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Indian women often choose to go slow on their careers due to marriage and motherhood. Money management tips for women who don’t work fulltime.
By Manika Premsingh
While there is still a raging debate out there on whether women can really have it all, it is important to acknowledge that women often do have to make career and finance related sacrifices in the post-marital world. Sometimes Indian women re-locate after marriage. Getting a great job in a new place might not always be easy, which naturally slows down their career path.
Often it can happen that post starting a family, women’s earnings and careers remain in the slow lane till the kids are grown up and they are able to get back to work in full swing. Women either take leave from work at such times, move to job profiles that are less demanding on time and energy or take up part-time work.
Not only does this phenomenon have an impact on the family’s finances, it can also make women psychologically vulnerable. Women who have so far been financially independent, now have to deal with a feeling of some dependence, which can be a challenge even with the most supportive husband and family. Added to this is the fact that in the current times, marriages are not as stable as has historically been the case in the Indian context. In the event of a divorce or even an unfortunate event like the spouse’s mortality, the woman can have a huge responsibility to cope with.
How can Indian women plan and secure their finances best to ensure some security, freedom from financial stress and even better self-worth? The three points outlined below could help you navigate financial hurdles:
As a young, single working woman, plan ahead for a different life scenario. It could be that you relocate after marriage, start a family, adopt a child as a single mother, decide to take off from your work for some time or in these times, even lose your job! All these possibilities entail that you make prudent financial decisions from the word go. These can help you stay financially protected and even thriving during periods of lean job income.
While not every situation that will arise in the future can be foreseen, preparing in general for financial security is a good idea.
While not every situation that will arise in the future can be foreseen, preparing in general for financial security is a good idea. If the situation ahead is predictable, for instance, if you are getting married one year later and that calls for relocation, planning a family or even looking at a career break, take a few economic factors into account. For instance, take into account the fact that the loss on income will potentially be higher, since salaries increase overtime. Also, take into account the fact that prices will rise overtime, so unless you are moving countries, expect an inflation of the overall budget, even with no increased expenses. Planning now will ensure that you are able to set aside a proportion of your income as return generating investments, which can at least partially provide for expenses at a later date.
To ensure financial security, particularly as a married couple, make sure to have investments in your name as a woman. While investments in the couple’s name and in the husband’s name are security enough in regular scenarios, in the event of a situation like a divorce, it can create an extremely stressful situation. The situation can be difficult when there is a child in the mix too, since that can affect child custody and your ability to provide for him or her.
Commit to investing regularly from your monthly incomes. During the initial years of work, you are usually capable of taking on riskier investments in financial instruments like equities. However, given the prolonged challenged economic scenario, equities have been quite unpredictable in the recent years. You would like assured principal as well as returns to investments, particularly so if you have responsibility for a child. So, do explore financial products, like debt, combination of debt and equity or principal protected funds to ensure that your savings are secure and growing. Some amount of investment in liquid assets will also help, since they can double up as an emergency fund.
Make sure to have life and health insurance coverage for both you and your spouse. While a number of companies provide insurance coverage for their employees, there are others that do not. Also, it is possible that even if you are covered, the coverage is inadequate for your financial goals. Adequate medical insurance is particularly worth mentioning here, since the last thing you would want is a drain on hard earned money in the event of an expensive medical requirement.
Often, Indian women tend to leave investment related financial decisions in the hands of their better halves, while concentrating more on the expenses. This is largely a historical tendency, since Indian women were traditionally homemakers, while men used to go out to earn. Even as Indian women have moved out of their homes into formal workplaces, the responsibility for investments is still considered to be that of the man. In the present times, there are easy and accessible tools for everyone to become financially aware and educated. Books, multi-media trainings and free resources on the internet can come to your aid.
The more aware Indian women become of financial matters beyond earning and expenses, the more likely it is for them to take charge of their financial destinies.
The more aware Indian women become of financial matters beyond earning and expenses, the more likely it is for them to take charge of their financial destinies. While it is desirable that women become financially aware as soon as they start earning, if not earlier, some time off when they start a family can be a good time to come up the curve on finances.
These are just a few options that you have as a woman looking to create a secure life when planning for the future. While each individual and family will have different needs based on their starting finances, education levels and career trajectory, a bit of financial planning can still go a long way to ensure that you and your family are financially secure!
*Photo credit: Philip Taylor (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
Manika is an entrepreneur and the founder of Orbis Economics, a research and content organisation
Manika, thanks for the informative post. I have a close friend. She and her husband have all the investments in the couple’s name but her husband doesn’t let her invest anything in her name only saying what is the point of being husband n wife if you want to keep things separate. Both are equally qualified and were working till recently when she had to quit to take care of her five year old son. They have had a number of very rough patches in the past seven years of their marriage which worries us. How can she convince her husband for investments in her name or is it ok if everything is in couple’s name if any unpleasant situation arises in future?
Hi Bhawna, thanks for writing in! I am glad you found the post informative. My thoughts on your friend’s situation: Does she truly want to save and invest on her own? As this article also points out, often women let men decide, and if nothing else, for reasons of convenience he might want them in his name.
The argument that there is no point in being married if you want to keep things separate is not enough. By that logic, all investments can be in her name too. Ideally, wherever possible, all investments should going by this argument be joint. Alternately, half the investments can be purely in her name and the other half in his.
Ideally, she should try to see where he is coming from when he says this – does he feel she will not manage the investments well on her own or it will be an additional formality if they have joint investments? In any case, the fact remains that it will be additional security for her in the event of something untoward taking place, and a reasonable partner should understand that. The first step is to talk it through and try and understand each other. Stay positive, all should work out for the best!
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