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Are Women From Venus And Men From Mars When It Comes To Investing Money?

Posted: July 24, 2016
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Men have had an upper hand in managing money for centuries. How can sensible investments by women help in creating a more equal world?

Social conditioning does not just influence our perception of beauty, sex and the opposite gender but also how we look at money. Most women are fairly clueless about the handling of finances till they are suddenly burdened with the responsibility of running a household. Even then, depending on family and social background, women are kept away from dealing with investments and are requested to just manage the expenses.

Right from a young age, boys are asked to help with minor work like getting demand drafts and submitting documents at the bank – while girls are conditioned to go shopping with mom and watch her bargain.

As young children grow up and become professionals, women come to the realization that they are often paid less than their male peers for the same amount and quality of work. Also, this is the stage that women often realize that they have higher personal expenses (owing to the larger number of clothes and personal grooming products needed by women conventionally).

Even when young women get married, they remain financially illiterate – about taxes, lending and basic banking.

So, do men and women look at money differently? Yes! But, this is owing due to gender based conditioning and not due to any biological differences.

In fact, a number of banks have very sexist product offerings for women – Savings Accounts that come without cheque books (because why would a home-maker know how to use one, even if she deposits a cheque for her daughter’s school fees every month?) and with extended transaction limit for shopping at Point of Sale (because men don’t shop, right?)

There is a paradox in spending and investments by women – though women are more likely to be impulse buyers, there are also better at managing smaller expenses (ergo, the famous perception of the ‘bargaining’ woman).

Historically, because men held the purse strings,…

…women have commendably managed to maneuver Savings by keeping these principles in mind:

  • The Power of Togetherness – Kitty Parties and Community Based pooling of Pin Money is a tactic women have used for years to get some control over their finances.
  • The Power of Being Penny Wise – Since women run the household, they become experts at getting the best bang for their buck when it comes to daily expenses.
  • Harnessing Risk – Women are conservative investors. Even financially aware women, tend to invest in low-risk products such as Hybrid or Pure Debt funds. Conservatism when It comes to your own money is never a bad thing.

Be conscious of your finances

What are steps that women should take from an early age to become more conscious of their finances and investments?

  • Don’t relinquish control for comfort – A lot of young women are happy to delegate their financial decisions to their father/brother/husband presuming that financial management is a complex business. My advice is ‘Don’t’. Be in complete control of your own money, always. Right from choosing investment decisions to filing Income Tax Returns.
  • Don’t be worried by scale – Don’t presume that Savings and Investments are only for rich people. If you have 1000 rupees left at the end of the month – you should be putting it in a SIP or a recurring deposit. On the other hand, if you are wealthy, try finding a reliable Certified Financial Planner to take care of your investments.
  • Avoid Cheap Credit – Though men are as likely as women to get swayed by the power of the Credit Card, avoid cheap credit card; more often than not, you’ll end up dipping in your saving stash to fend off your bills and maintaining your credit score.
  • Savings is where it all starts, but Investments is not where it ends – It is important to learn not about just the returns your savings and investments fetch you, but also other technicalities associated with them. Investments come with multiple things that one needs to keep in mind – interest rates, changing investment trends, changing market conditions, taxation impact and lock – in period.

Setting of goals

Though many women are not inclined to investing and saving due to the perception of finance being tough, number-centric, or a male oriented task, managing your finances is fairly straightforward once you establish personal and financial priorities and work towards achieving them.

For example – if your personal goal is purchasing a house – it is a good idea to invest in equity linked SIPs that will enable you to make a down payment on your house while you go about improving your credit score that will enable you to get a home loan more conveniently.

Women’s financial needs are different

Irrespective of whether you are a stay-at-home mom (with the objective of reducing family expenses) or a middle aged working professional pooling in resources for her retirement, it is imperative to understand that women’s financial demographic varies substantially more than men, who are often just focused upon getting rich quickly.

Women should also be judicious about their own assets as due to financial illiteracy, fewer women tend to leave wills for their next of kin.

A key part of this is education and awareness. Women magazines are so appearance-centric and personality-focused that they completely miss out on any financial education geared towards women. Hence, it is important that women dip into their husband’s financial papers or pick up reading on a blog during meetings or after work.

It cannot be stressed enough that men hold power also because they hold the purse strings in a household. All women should have complete understanding and control over their finances, not because they are wannabe stockbrokers but because they should never relinquish control over what is rightfully theirs, whether it is inherited property, their father’s bequest to them at the time of their wedding, investing their salary or even earnings from a Ladies’ Lunch while playing Taboo.

Image source: graphicstock

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