Financial discipline comes from learning how to manage one’s money. This is how women can have power in the household, society, economy.
“I don’t have money. Well, I never have. And I dread end-of-the-months because somehow I am broke by then,” says Nithya, an IT consultant and a friend. She is 35 years old and has been earning for around 15 years. Nithya is financially independent and to some extent quite affluent too.
This is not a one off situation. A lot of my friends are financially independent and work at high-paying jobs. But by the end of the month, they are either broke or end up borrowing money from others to sail through. That is because they mostly focus on being financially independent instead of financially disciplined.
Financial discipline comes from learning how to manage one’s money. This is the only way women can have power in the household, society, economy.
It may sound a little old school and maybe it is. But there is a thing or two to learn from our older generation. Especially from the women. Our mothers were either homemakers, or were paid minimum wages as opposed to the men.
That is why, they were always very strict with money. They knew that they had a limited amount of either their husbands’ money or their own to splurge. Which was what they did less of – splurging.
Growing up, like many girls, I dreamt of becoming financially independent. Of earning so much I could do whatever I was held back from doing. My mother, an educated homemaker, had brought us up like any financially-strict parent would.
She would never give us extra. We could afford it, but she wouldn’t spoil us. It’s not like we didn’t deserve it either, we really had to prove our worth to win anything extra as a reward. No doubt we hated it.
Looking at other kids in school with five different types of pencils, when we only had one, wasn’t very encouraging. It was only natural to dream of earning one day and splurging. Because, that meant freedom.
It was only when I started earning that I realised what she did to us was not unnecessary. She taught us discipline.
Mom involved us in monthly financial budget discussions. Asked us to take turns in buying groceries or vegetables in order to share our father’s burden. And taught us to bargain.
Mom would ask us repeatedly if we were absolutely certain about buying something we said we wanted. She encouraged us to open bank accounts at the age of 16 and pestered us to buy policies and make investments at 26.
These small steps taught us life lessons. In the process, we became adults. And responsible. We realised we had to prioritise. Or it would never be enough.
This discipline has helped me survive job losses, recession, inflation, and other economic hardships.
It is all very tempting to earn money to splurge. Because, becoming financially dependent comes with a prejudiced notion that it is my money. But, we have to constantly ask ourselves if it really is freedom or is there more?
We have to constantly prioritise need from want. And we have to differentiate between spending on something worthwhile and splurging on something frivolous.
We must always remember that we women, are also the earning members of the family. While our fathers, brothers, or husbands earn and take care of most of the expenses, we can save our money for the rainy days. We should be mindful about being equally responsible as financial contributors to the country’s economy.
Imagine if we never had the freedom to be financially independent like our mothers or our grandmothers? What would we do? We need to understand that financial independence does not mean real independence. Financial discipline does. That brings sustainability.
This is for us. Absolutely for us. The discipline is in our hands as much as earning money is.
Picture credits: Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels
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