Women and equality is a hotly debated topic. I am not sure how much equality is actually put into practice. Based on my interactions, very little. There is progress though.
One aspect of a woman’s life that has glaring inequality is in the management of money and investments.
I know you are not hearing it for the first time or even for the last time. Women continue to avoid matters of money and investments like the plague.
Let me share some stories and suggestions. The stories first.
The man will do it
From times immemorial – anything related to money and investments is the responsibility of the man in the house.
The basis of this mentality lies in the old systems that we have all seen.
It is only now that women have started breaking out from that mould. Women are gainfully employed – jobs, freelancers, business, startups – they are making a mark everywhere.
Yet, when it comes to managing the money – “it’s the man’s job”.
The early in their career go back to their daddy, the married ones to their husband.
I call this thinking rooted in – Money is from Mars, Women are from Venus.
You know where this one comes from.
Now, some of the mankind sincerely want the woman to participate.
One of my clients makes sure that the lady of the house accompany him for all discussions. However, the lady is least interested. She is a CA herself, still no. She has the capability, still no.
She is in love with her man. She believes it is his job to provide and take care of money as she takes care of the growing kids and the house.
It’s so complex
I remember a friend saying –
Ye paisa saving account me pada hua hai, kahi investment karte hai. (The money is lying in the savings account, let’s make some investments)
“Kaha” (where), asks he.
Property, FD, insurance! (typical options with extended dialogues and how some of the friends or family members are doing the same)
Equity mei kare, (shall we invest in equity) he suggests.
Wo tum dekho (you see it), she promptly replies. Jyada risky to nahi (hope it is not very risky), she casts a doubt.
I have another client, actually a couple. Both are go getters and doing very well in media sales. Both have had rich progress in their careers but when it comes to money, she is conservative.
She considers real estate as the best investment. One never loses money. Markets are risky. She has heard so many stories about people losing money.
Other women clients have had different stories. They started with the same prayers on the investment altar.
We offer prayers when we start doing something. Doing PPF, FD investment and buying insurance (Endowment, Money back) is akin to making investment prayers.
They now have taken a more professional approach to their money and investments. They don’t let the fears hold them back. They have opted for a healthier financial future guided by the light of knowledge.
There is a hard lesson: You may divorce the man, but you cannot divorce the money.
Now some suggestions.
#1 When disaster strikes
- The man who you depend upon may be no more.
- You may face an ugly marriage from which you want to exit.
- You may want to start something of your own, on your own.
Keeping your financial life in order and in control will lend you the required strength to deal with any of these possible scenarios. They are real.
#2 Yes, you trust your man completely. Trust is the bedrock of a relationship. But don’t go blind.
Discuss and participate in money matters and investment decisions. Together, you can make more effective decisions.
In my experience, women bring unique insights into the investment process. They ask questions, however simple, that can change the direction of financial matters.
Warning: If your spouse doesn’t like your participation or hesitates to discuss, consider it as a red flag.
#3 Don’t get your lack of knowledge become a hindrance.
Keeping money in gullaks, hidden lockers or buying gold can bring you safety but remember it will also erode purchasing power. It will not make you better off to handle a demanding financial future.
“But I don’t know much about finances or investments.” Pure excuse.
It is sheer laziness that prevents you from working to understand what various investment options are and how do they work.
Lazy because you have the capability but not the willingness.
I believe if you can give birth to a life, enduring those 9 months and beyond, you can do anything.
#4 Take the most important first steps
- Get yourself insurance – health and accident. If you are single with dependents, get life insurance and disability cover too.
- Go beyond your investment prayers. Focus on safety but work towards growth too. Diversify your investments.
- Get an adviser or financial coach to work with you who can help you navigate the investment journey.
It is the Women’s Day. For your sake, today, take a pledge and start learning.
Begin with the basics. That’s your best defence today and the attack tomorrow.
To throw a cliche at you “a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.”
You and you alone can take that first step.
Between you and me: If you have an experience to share that can help others too, please do share it here on the comments of this blog. Be the light for others.