By Anupama Bhargava CFP,
Every year Women’s Day brings with it – A promise. A promise to honor, support and make women’s lives better. Come the D day, and one can’t but feel overwhelmed with all the fuss around this day. The media and the social media, both do their bit of giving glowing tributes to the amazing women all around us and then on a more basic level, there are special offers ranging from a free meal, special discounts on spa services, clothes or even a discounted holiday. However, for most of us it is just another day busy at our workplaces or homes till the next year when again everyone becomes all gung-ho on yet another ‘Women’s Day’!
Makes one wonder whether this is actually what we, as women want? Are we happy with a day spent on frivolous celebration or would we rather choose a lifetime of dignified existence! Given a choice, each one of us would happily choose the second one.
To my mind, financial independence is the key to happiness and dignity for the modern woman. A woman plays multiple roles that range from being a caring mother, a fantastic cook and a working professional. She balances all these and more beautifully day after day and year after year. Whether married or unmarried, whether a home maker or a professional, financial security gives her stability and assurance.
Worldwide, women are better at handling money and savings. Our mothers and before them our grandmothers would manage to save some money every month from the household expenses and keep it aside for a rainy day. We understand the importance of financial security for the family but security for ourselves remains low priority. Today, many of us are single moms and are the bread winners for the family. Many of us earn as much as our male counterparts and yet when it comes to taking financial decisions for the family or even for ourselves, it is not uncommon to see women still looking up to the men in their family to manage the finances.
It is common for families to consider their secured financial future but rarely do women plan their own retirement and sadly after working in their prime, end up being financially dependent in their sunset years. Given that statistically women have a higher life expectancy, the importance of Retirement planning for women assumes even greater significance.
Homemakers who are financially dependent should take active interest in the financial planning for the family and their husbands should plan and cater for a contingency. The first step in this direction is to face the reality of a mishap, like the loss of life of her husband or a divorce. If she is not financially aware, it can land her in a lot of insecurity. Working women often take breaks from their careers to take care of their family. This means that women have that much shorter time to save for their future.
So, what can a woman do to ensure her future is financially secure and stable?
For starters if you are a married woman, take active part in the family financial management exercise and allocate some funds towards your own retirement. Second ensure that all investments of your husband have nominations and joint holdings wherever possible. Be aware of the financial investments of your husband.
A single woman should start investing from day one of her employment as at this stage, her requirements are low, and liquidity is high. This is a good time to invest in higher return yielding instruments. Investing in a mixed bag of equity and debt would ensure good compounding and better returns that can create a healthy retirement corpus. Create an emergency corpus to cater for contingencies.
It’s time that we as women take responsibility for our own retirement and take this first step towards a secured and dignified retirement. It’s time that we stop taking our own future lightly. To all the great men out there who are an integral part of our lives in the roles of brothers, fathers and husbands; all we seek is a promise that you would help us on this path to financial self-dependence.
Let’s be different this women’s day and rise over frivolous things to do something that would really bring about a change! Let’s promise ourselves to be the change!
Happy Women’s Day!
(The author is a Financial strategist. Views expressed are personal.)