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Learning about managing money is vital for true financial independence, without depending on your father/husband/son/any other man. So, how do you go about it?
The only relationship that most women are taught to have with money is how to spend it.
Young women are often kept in the dark about the family’s finances, assets and dealings (especially true for business families). As they grow older, the financial reins transfer from father to husband/father-in-law. Even independent women, full of verve, are hesitant to explore the financial freedom that the salary they earn provides.
My advice to all women out there is to have absolute clarity on your personal financial goals with that of the family. Money is power and you should definitely be maneuvering your own purse – strings.
There is nothing more powerful than compounding! Keep your money invested to watch it grow. Often, we are tempted to dip into our savings – to buy out our tiny wants. Keep your money invested for a longer horizon.
There is no gain without pain; no risk without return: You MUST read up and understand and keep yourself abreast of personal financial investment instruments. Two hours of research and reading a month is sufficient to get you started on the right track and keep you there. This will help you understand and monitor your proclivity to risk.
These are not exhaustive – even doing a Google search with investment oriented catchwords will suffice if you wish to stay updated.
The next step after becoming cognizant of where and how to invest is to become aware of the little things:
‘Penny wise, Pound foolish’ is the cliche to beat when it comes to monitoring your spends. All of us have different impulses – some of us overspend on low value items, other scrimp pennies even for what it is worthwhile. Monitor where you are spending money; cut down on frivolous expenses. Make sure you count for entertainment and enjoyment expenses; rather than restricting them, put a cap on it. Track. Monitor.
Set all your savings and investments on auto-debit. Saving money from a salary or a windfall is the best way of ensuring that you are not lured into impulsively spending it. Save first, Spend latter. Avoid falling into mental traps (Equity is only for the rich, trying to save 500 rupees online for an electronic item without warranty etc.)
A lot of people are in the habit of disregarding coupons, loyalty points etc. Do not! It is your money too. Redeem points frequently before they expire. Figure out what is your Bank’s loyalty program and redeem the same into Airline miles or discount vouchers.
Opinion is divided on Credit Cards – a lot of people them consider necessary evil while others are hopelessly addicted to them.
Irrespective of which group you belong to – understand the pros and cons of using them impartially.
Pros – Digital, secure line of payment unlike Debit Cards which might lead to compromise of your entire account in case of a fraud. Some nice perks like lounge access and loyalty points.
Cons – Extremely high rate of interest, you will need to regularly clear your bills to maintain a healthy credit score.
Get Term and Health Insurance. IGNORE everything else. ULIPs, endowments, Cash-back policies are just fodder for Insurers and Actuaries to add to the company’s bottom-line. Insurance is not investment, avoid it as a medium to save tax. Treat insurance as insurance and be wary of financial mis-selling.
Have a very well organized folder with your Returns, PAN, statements, policy documents and all financial details in place. You do not want to leave a mess in case of an exigency.
Keep a digitized storehouse on Drive/Dropbox and hard copies where a trusted partner/parent can go to. Take this as your personal Asset and Liability folder (very handy whether it is to monitor when an FD is due or when you have to pay a premium).
List all important people (CA, Broker) and have a nominee. Divide this into personal, protection, family related folders for further convenience.
Most people are more concerned about paying the government tax than getting wealthy themselves. My advice would be to invest for the purpose of wealth generation and not tax saving. Trust me, if you are investing correctly according to your age, profile and future requirements, tax saving is a positive externality, not the objective.
Investing your money is the first step in ensuring your own safety, stability and security while continuing to pursue your dreams without depending on a son, husband, father, or lover.
Image source: savings by Shutterstock.