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Parents often make the mistake of discussing money, savings, investments, property, stocks/ shares, business and economy only with sons, as the girls are expected to "get married and leave".
There can be no real independence or empowerment without financial independence… let that sink in. Knowledge, education, and awareness are huge enablers for optimizing your resources.
*All names changed for protecting their privacy.
*Apurva was denied her rightful share after her father’s demise as her brothers were strongly against it and having no prior knowledge of the family property or wealth she gave up without a fight, sad that she lost out on what was rightfully hers.
Teach your daughters the dynamics of money management- start them young – open a bank account with the birth of daughters, encourage the idea of savings with piggy bank when young. Take them on your banking errands to teach ‘how money grows’/ ‘interest’ and familiarize the concept of banking so that they aren’t intimidated later on.
Parents often make the mistake of discussing money, savings, investments, property, stocks/ shares, business and economy only with sons, as the girls are expected to “get married and leave”. So girls lose out on learning these skills which often works to their disadvantage in marital homes as they have little or no knowledge/ experience in financial matters.
When girls are purposefully kept away from the details of investments in property/ business/land ownership and only the sons are initiated into family finance in patriarchal societies, women are often subjected to humiliation and harassment by their families.
*When Anu’s husband brought an expensive car and not being savvy with money, they were both clueless about what they were getting into, they struggled to pay up EMIs and ended up taking another loan to pay up the earlier one which caused serious strife in the family.
It’s important to involve children in family purchases/planning and expenditure or even financial problems, because often kids are unaware of the concept of intelligent buying, costing, logistics of EMIs, fine print of terms/ conditions that they sign up and get to learn all of it only when they set up home or buy things.
Parents must share their experience and knowledge whether it’s about buying property, land, vehicle, tax planning/filing returns. It’s important to involve your daughters while making evaluation, registration, payments etc to understand procedural requirements necessary for legalities. Sometimes, children aren’t interested in these matters or fail to appreciate a parent’s efforts, however it’s necessary to impart this crucial life skill.
Banks offer free service of personalized banking for guidance and information, so make it a point to visit your banker and avail of the facilities, discuss schemes and policies in the market that suit your requirements. It improves your understanding and helps gain confidence in facing people and challenging situations without depending on others.
*Sania had a pretty decent paying job. Unfortunately her lifestyle didn’t leave her much by way of savings, and she often turned to her family for support. This caused a rift amongst siblings, so it’s essential to be savvy in such matters.
When girls begin their careers they must learn to keep a sum apart for savings/ investments. Many are unable to save enough for their future due to lack of information, overspending/ overuse of loans/ credit/ debit cards and are often left to learn through mistakes or depend on peers/ friends/ husbands which is not a wise or sensible thing always.
*I remember my colleague Sailee who had a difficult time as she was required to hand over her entire salary to her husband, however she wisely managed to raise her contributions to various funds that served her in good stead later.
Earlier generations of working girls handed salaries to their fathers and later their husbands/ inlaws, till the time/ opportunity came her way to run the family finances.
When I started work I was lucky to be guided by my seniors/colleagues in matters of savings in GPF/PF/ insurances for a secure retirement.
*Priya lost her husband in an accident and overnight her life collapsed, she never looked into their finances- the nominations in insurance papers, provident fund and gratuity weren’t in her name, so it was hard to secure the money especially when her in-laws weren’t disposed to let her have it.
In many Indian homes a woman’s opinion or choices aren’t respected as they do not learn about finances earlier and hence often they lack necessary knowledge or confidence to express themselves. In most traditional families too, most financial decisions are imposed upon her against her own will. Often women are victims of cheating, swindling, defrauding by husbands/ in-laws/ family in the event of problems by taking advantage of their gullibility or naiveté, often cheated even of their streedhan.
The system itself is also discriminatory against women as far as finances are concerned. Most advertisements have men do the smart money talk of mutual funds, insurance, investments, land deals, cars, bikes etc. So men are essentially looked upon as ‘smart, savvy and responsible’ while the women are left to endorse fashion, food and detergents.
So, men earn and invest their money while women run homes – are the gender stereotypes conveyed- a conditioning that influenced our mindsets, invariably. Women are conditioned to stick to topics of entertainment, glamour or cooking. We hardly ever talk of money matters with the same drive as we would perhaps talk about the latest cut/ trends in fashion or oils for cooking. It’s partly lack of interest or information that makes us find money talk boring and dull. This must go; until we change our approach and attitude we can never see real change happen. And the responsibility lies solely with girls’ parents.
Women cannot protect themselves if they lack knowledge and confidence to deal with financial problems. Plan regularly and evaluate your financial position, updates on savings, investments, policies, EMIs on loans etc. Make your discussions open and participatory, so children have the benefit of your knowledge and experience.
I appreciate my domestic help who has her own bank account, operates her ATM, credit/ debit cards and understands QR scan and aware of sarkari yojanas than me, she’s got better credit score than I had expected – knowledge is a great leveller and liberating factor for women that cuts across all barriers bringing about equality in truest sense.
Image source: a still from the film Gunjan Saxena
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