“To be a financially savvy woman, you don’t have to like tracking your numbers. You just have to do it.” ~ Patti Fagan.
We are almost at the end of this financial year (31st March in India) as I sit to pen this blog post. Last few weeks I had to ensure all taxes are paid, income tax returns are filed, tax-saving deductions are done under Section 80C….Its time to review my investments. How are my mutual funds looking? The stock markets are high and volatile so have to plan well. I am in the midst of preparing my personal budget for the new financial year. Have to factor inflation rate plus increase in school fees….
Few years ago, all this would have been completely Greek and Latin for me. I barely had any idea about the financial jargon. When you have never handled your money on your own and are left-brain challenged, personal finances can seem daunting. Most of us Indian girls coming from a sound economic background are usually raised in way where the money matters are completely looked after by the father (and brother if there is) and after marriage by the husband (and the father-in-law if applicable). Traditionally, men have always taken care of the financial aspect in a relationship. No questions asked, all in good trust and faith.
Flash back to the time when I was faced with my divorce. And with it came all the challenges of handling not only my own finances but also that of my minor daughters. The girl who had mainly worked with paintbrushes and pens was now compelled to look at numbers and excel sheets, big time. A single woman and a single mom put together in a situation where there was no choice but to take control.
Learning the ropes of everything around money did not come easy. It continues to be a process of constant education till date. But I am so glad to have been thrown into the situation, else I probably wouldn’t have learnt as much. A lot of women I know have no clue about their own finances simply ‘cos there has not been any need to learn. One of my aunts had no idea about the medical policy details when my uncle was hospitalised in an emergency. A close friend does not know how net banking works. An older mom I know was clueless about her income tax statement and regrets not learning.
I believe it’s very important for every woman to be financially savvy. Here’s why:
- Self-respect: When a woman equips herself with financial knowledge, she is able to control her money well. That fills her with self-confidence and puts her in charge. It is critical for her own survival skills when crisis befalls. When she can hold her own in a financial situation, her self-respect takes a huge leap.
- Key decision-making: It is generally the woman in the family who knows the family spends. Home management, paying for the children’s education and activities, shopping requirements, bills, etc. are usually in her domain of responsibilities. If she is financially smart, money management will be easier and it will augur well for better decision-making.
- Sense of ownership: You know your money well, you own it, you have a sense of responsibility. The onus is on you – to save, to lose, to spend. Even if you make mistakes, they will serve as lessons. But the sense of complete ownership is wonderful. No one can take you for a ride or cheat you when you know how things work.
- Exercising your choice: There are several modes of investments to allot your money. It helps you to make an informed choice when you are aware of your funds and financial needs at different stages. Organising and systematic planning comes very easily to women, especially mothers. She can use these skills effectively for taking important financial decisions.
- Sense of freedom: In most cases, money is the tool that allows us to enjoy the varied pleasures of life. If a woman is financially smart about her money choices, she need not wait for anyone’s permission or approval. She can indulge in whatever her heart desires. Now that feeling can be truly very liberating!