Taking Charge is the first step of Financial Independence for Women
Women of today – They make headlines, they are trend-setters, they manage home and workplace like a pro, they work, they party, they slay. They multi-task like there’s no tomorrow, they micromanage to make others life convenient. They are independent thinker and believer. They conquer mountains and sail through the beaches. Bottom line women are self-sufficient and independent. Yet when it comes to money matters, it is the man of the house who is entrusted with the responsibility. Women aren’t given or probably they don’t prefer taking the financial matters into their hands. There could be plenty of reasons behind it – since it’s always the men who have handled money matters, women don’t feel the confidence to take independent financial decisions (even if they are the breadwinner of the family, imagine!), women lack awareness about how savings and investments work.
Whatever her reason may be, a woman who brings income to the house, should participate in the financial matters. The realities of life are harsh. Suddenly, you may be faced with situations where you are required to handle all financial issues on your own. It’s advisable to take charge of personal finance (not just being financially independent) and be prepared to face any unforeseen financial eventualities.
Build your financial confidence. Take charge.
Women are always the victim of stereotyping – be it driving a car or handling the finance. Now either it’s the social pressure, the stereotyping or the fact that most find it time-consuming and difficult (yes even the men for that matter), women usually shy away from financial planning. But what women really need to understand is that being truly financially independent is not just about earning money, but to handle the finance and utilise it smartly. One can begin with reading about financial planning, have honest conversations with your spouse/partner/friends or colleagues, and consult financial experts. The key is to take charge. Knowing where to invest, what to save, how much to spend – the nitty-gritty of personal finance. Taking smaller steps is the best way to overcome the challenges of finance.
Make yourself the priority. Always.
Every time a woman enters a new phase, it demands a newer version of the person. For instance, it’s common for women to take breaks in their careers and compromise on their professional aspirations. After marriage, they prioritise their partners’ career and after child birth, they prefer parking themselves at home. But it’s important to prioritise yourself first. Don’t give up professional lives easily (always remember the effort you have put in), and try to work out a solution, where you can continue to be financially independent (very very important at any stage). A stable income is must for implementing any financial plan. Any.
Protect yourself. No Alternative.
You can be married, or an independent woman taking care of the family. In either situation, it’s always advisable to protect yourself against the uncertainties of life. Any unforeseen event can adversely affect the overall financial well-being of the family. Hence, make sure to get an adequate insurance cover for yourself by opting for a pure term policy. How does that help? Well Term policies provide high risk covers at very low costs. Opt for cover equalling at least 15 times your annual income. Besides regular insurance, it’s advisable to not overlook health insurance. The rising cost of healthcare and the increase in critical illnesses in India make health insurance imperative for women. You can look for policies designed for women or choose a regular health policy with additional benefits for maternal and child care.
Prepare your mind. For anything and everything
The uncertainties of life may also include falling out of love with your partner, a divorce, and other unfortunate situation like these. Make sure to know where you stand when you enter the state of married bliss or co-living. Organize titles to property, such as your house and car. Recognize that excluding your name on a title means you will no longer have ownership in the event of a divorce. Consult your financial and/or legal adviser to ensure you’re safeguarded upon a split. Now you may not consider doing all this for obvious reasons – we never wish for such events. But like we mentioned, these are part of the uncertainties of life, so it’s best to be well prepared for the worst!
No matter how comfortable you feel now, whether you’re single, married, or living with a partner, always plan your own financial future as if you were already on your own!
Your Credit Score, don’t ignore it.
Even if you’re married, keep your own credit score healthy. Creditors do not consolidate your scores—they look at them individually. In the worst-case scenario, you do not want to be in a situation where you have a low credit score, which will hinder you from taking out low-interest loans if you need it. Check your credit report and evaluate it for any errors. Pay off debts if any. Like pay off the highest-interest debt first. This is usually credit cards. Then if you have enough savings, dip into your savings to pay off high interest debt so you aren’t losing money from interest payments. You can also transfer debt from high-interest rate loans to those with lower interest rates.
Financial independence gives you a sense of self-worth, sure, but you can achieve it only with the power of financial decision making which is all about accumulating confidence and safeguarding yourself from contingencies.
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