Financial planning advisor Amar Pandit, CFA, explains how women can plan better to create wealth and protect themselves from financial uncertainties
For the longest time, 'It's a man's world' was the motto by which society functioned. But once things began to change, this motto lost its value and as things stand today, more and more women are enjoying economic prosperity.
A prime example of this has been an increase in the ratio of women entering the workforce over the past two decades.
Anjali Shah is a corporate executive in her early 30s. While she handles the day to day expenses of her family with relative ease, she has never even given a thought to managing her own money in a better way.
Thus, despite being well educated, she has barely any idea about insurance, investment and taxation details for her family's money.
Prior to her marriage, it was her father who looked after these details and post it, it was up to her chartered accountant husband to do the needful.
The result of this was her being clueless about any of her investments, personal or joint. More importantly, she was highly uninformed about her family's liabilities.
Anjali's isn't an uncommon story. Not just women, but numerous men too suffer from this malaise of money mismanagement.
They rely heavily on other family member's or professionals to help them sort through their financial issues.
Managing one's daily money isn't an easy task for sure. But in addition to that, it is important that Anjali takes control of, or at least instils in herself, a strong understanding of her overall financial situation.
Typically, women tend to give priority to their family's immediate and short-term needs. These might include day-to-day expenses, lifestyle expenses and at the most, money spent on vacations.
Long term goals such as retirement, financial security or financial independence lose out in the race to current needs.
As cliched as it might sound, it is imperative that women achieve these three objectives. Regardless of their marital status, whether they're working or not, every woman should not just focus on the short term, but also on the long term plan.
There are some key questions that women must ask themselves, which might help them plan better for their future.
- What if something were to happen to my spouse today? Would we, as a family be able to maintain the same standard of living.
- What are my savings and what are my investments? Do my investments have any effect on my financial situation? Are my liquidity, income and growth needs taken care of?
- In case of an emergency, will the family be able to survive? Are there enough contingency funds to tide us over the hard times?
- What would I do in the event that an unfortunate event like separation or divorce took place? Would I be able to maintain the same lifestyle that I currently do?
- Am I up to date with the skills required in the current job market? It often happens that after marriage or after having children, when women re-enter the job sector, they are completely out of touch with the changed demands and skills needed to succeed.
As it happens, in the case of an emergency, many women discover that a majority of their investments are tax-saving instruments, earning returns of just 4 per cent per year. If there is a variety in investments, it doesn't follow any logical process, and yields minimal returns.
If there is a loan in this scenario, the situation is even worse.
Thus, it is very important that women maintain their own balance sheets. This is a great way to become aware of what funds one has in her name.
There must be awareness about joint investments and the necessary documents needed to access them.
To deal with the liabilities, there must be a proper corpus or insurance plan put in place. And most importantly, there must be appropriate medical insurance to take care of an individual's as well as the family's health needs.
When one is used to only looking after household expenses or has never dabbled in financial planning, considering these matters might seem too much. But it must be done because all these steps are imperative in keeping a tab on financial security to ensure a safer future.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Istiaque Emon/unsplash.com/@iahmedbd
Amar Pandit, CFA, is an engineer-turned-financial planner, and founder of HappynessFactory.in, a unique fintech company