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Money Management Tips For Women Empowerment

Posted: March 3, 2011

Women empowerment in India needs to start with financial independence; here are some money management tips for women.

By Poornima Kavlekar

“I very recently met a frail lady in her late 40s who was really desperate for a job,” recalls Saundarya Rajesh, Founder-President, AVTAR Career Creators, a talent strategy consulting firm that also offers flexi-career opportunities for women seeking work-home balance. This lady, a graduate with five years of work experience before her marriage, approached AVTAR for a flexi-working option. And she was desperately in need of one as she had been abandoned by her husband alleging infidelity! “Forget the allegation, her husband made sure that she signed over all her property to him before he sent her off packing,” says Saundarya. With no place to go, she came close to complete destitution, but was fortunately saved by a job with an NGO.

Then there is the case of Saraswathi*, wife of a well-placed government officer. When her husband remarried and threw her out, a group of elders made him responsible for the marriage expenses of his three grown-up daughters. But no provisions were made for the wife who had nothing to her name after several years of marriage. She was advised by ‘well-wishers’ against legal action, as that would jeopardize her husband’s job and the marriage prospects of her daughters. She ended up as a house-help to fend for herself.

Why women need financial independence

Both these women, who had reasonable education but were unemployed, were no doubt undergoing a period of emotional trauma. But, what worsened their condition was that they were going through a financial crisis as well. When they were with their spouses, they had access to family income, but no savings that they could independently access.

Divorce or abandonment are not the only reasons why many women are financially disadvantaged in their old age. There are many instances where succesful women take career breaks, or end up compromising by taking up low-paying jobs…

Divorce or abandonment are not the only reasons why many women are financially disadvantaged in their old age. There are many instances where successful working women take career breaks, or end up compromising by taking up low-paying jobs as they juggle relentlessly between their home and work. As homemakers, they are constantly taking care of other people – their parents, siblings, husband, in-laws or children. And whether it is health, happiness or financial security, women place themselves last on the list! This sacrificing attitude (a natural consequence of years of societal conditioning, no doubt) has left many women poorer on all three scores, especially during their twilight years.

Sentiments are also a woman’s weakness. There are cases when her own children prey upon her, trying to get their hands on her provident fund money or late husband’s pension benefits, her share of the family home or other such property. Unfortunately, society’s general attitude towards women tends to heighten this problem also. As Mathew Cherian, Chief Executive of Helpage India, rightly says, “In general, India is a patriarchal society where women are treated as second-class citizens and widowed women are third-class citizens. Even in the Hindu Law, it was only in the late 1960s that women became eligible to inherit family property equally.”

Is this not reason enough to financially empower women across all socio-economic classes?

Money Management tips for women

Here’s how you could start:

Moving up the ladder, but… There is no doubt that women have, in the last few decades, expanded their horizon and progressed well professionally. However, they are yet to learn to prioritise their spending pattern and ensure that their hard earned money is managed well. “Typically, when women apportion their income, they do so as a secondary source and therefore assign it to a lot of impulse needs,” says Saundarya Rajesh. “Statistics prove that at least 70 per cent of a woman’s earnings are directed towards expenses other than her own, such as domestic help, tuition classes, home purchase EMIs and so on.” Remember – managing your money is more important than earning it. Try to ensure that all your monies are not spent on common needs.

Remember – managing your money is more important than earning it. Try to ensure that all your monies are not spent on common needs. 

Do it yourself or at least be involved. Women need to snap out of the general conditioning that managing money is a male thing. It’s your money and you are the best one to decide what to do with it. Here are a few key points that will help you start your own savings and investment journey independently. One, start saving from a very young age. Two, know your various investment options, and assess your risk taking capability before you invest in any product. Three, get a grip on your income tax needs, and finally, get yourself a good insurance policy. If you have assets, make a Will, but retain control over your assets till your end.

Whether you are a homemaker or a working woman, ensure that you are present when a Will is being made out, either by your parents or by your spouse. If you and your husband are buying a property, you should be a part of the registration process, and if possible be a co-owner of the property. “Ensure that you have a joint account with your spouse,” advises Mathew Cherian.

Financial literacy is a must. For all this to happen, there has to be a major change at the grassroot level where financial literacy among women is still quite low. A solution that Mathew Cherian suggests is to start training the younger generation of girls and get women into inclusive financial services.

Making financial literacy a part of the school curriculum may be a good way to do this.

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  1. This topic is so relevant in today’s World, an eye opener for many am sure. It is sad to see Women being duped of money even today. Definitely shows Financial Illetracy, like you have mentioned. Thanks, will pass it on.

  2. very well written !

  3. In some weird way thats not funny I know yet conclusions from Amercia a quote!!! There is no way a women can have a selfless behavior tendencies to relate come from the very nutrients minerals and such that are apart of her being!! Thanks!!

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