The 21st Century is beginning to see an upsurge of women entering the global workforce and making their presence felt across economies of scale.
It is a different scenario today when compared to a past where the women were homemakers. Today, there is a greater degree of freedom and assertion of women’s rights in society. It has been an uphill task for women to assert their conjugal rights and expression in society.
Inequality is a reality, and it exists in various forms; however, it has always been women who have been losing out- either in terms of equal pay, the family inheritance, job roles, etc.
Every woman juggles multiple roles as a homemaker, mother, daughter, employee, business entrepreneur, etc. Over the years, the role of women in society has developed into much more than just a homemaker- so, what is the connection between women and money? Essentially, it is the woman who runs the household, and she has a greater understanding of money as she is at the forefront of a routine struggle.
Women and Financial Empowerment:
It should be a priority for women to be more aware of financial matters. Women, by taking control over their finances, can become strong, confident, better partners and members of their communities. To a woman, financial independence is a matter of necessity rather than being just a matter of strength.
Women need to be more confident in matters related to investments. She would need to take decisions only if she proactively consults with those who are well-versed in finance and investments. This makes them money’s best friend.
Generally, women take career breaks – whether it is for their children or to look after ageing family members. Hence, women need to be at ease with finances. This way, they do not feel helpless even after having had a long, successful stint in their careers.
Women understand and invest differently and at a different time in their lives. For example, a 20-year-old single woman with her whole life ahead of her can take more risks than a 40-year-old woman with a family to take care of.
Likewise, a single parent must not invest in the same manner as a single woman. There are lessons to be learnt, and women must undertake financial education very early on in life, to walk the path of financial success that their male counterparts tread so easily.
Investment tips for women at different stages of their life with different responsibilities:
1. Young and single:
It is sensible that one chooses to start with a mix of short and long term goals. You can also apply for a credit card and keep it handy, just in case immediate funds are needed. Also, if you are unsure of the specifics that go into accessing, availing and using a credit card, you can use a credit card eligibility checker for women.
If a loan or credit card has been availed by women, they must monitor and track the credit score at regular intervals. Monitoring credit reports at periodical intervals should always be a priority and responsibility for women at an individual level.
Checking a credit report on a timely basis helps to eliminate factual inaccuracies, and it also helps to improve your credit score over time. Firstly, at an individual level, it helps to monitor spending and decide on plans to avail credit when required. Secondly, monitoring credit score and creditworthiness does impact many aspects of routine living, e.g., the ability to rent an apartment, the decision to buy a house or car becomes easier, the event that one needs an urgent loan can be less stressful, or maybe even managing money before you get hired for a job, etc.
Investing in equity stocks may be a good choice, but it would be better to invest in mutual funds to achieve long term goals as a retirement plan. One should choose to invest in a health insurance plan at an early stage itself as premiums will be lower.
For short term goals, it would be best to invest in fixed deposits, debt funds, and fixed maturity plans. Over a period, owning a home will be a priority; hence your investment strategy must shift towards increasing retirement savings or hiking contributions to a pension plan.
2. Married and working:
Apart from juggling various roles, time is at a premium for a woman in her mid-forties, therefore making informed financial decisions is the need of the hour. It is a double income home, where the husband could be the primary investor. The plans and priorities must be ready and put in place e,g., children’s education, their marriage, retirement, or maybe buying a home.
At the same time, it is also important that a woman has her own set of investments which will give her the freedom to make decisions for herself and may also come in to help the family in times of financial instability. For this, it is important that working women with a family keep track of their credit score and continue to learn how to improve my credit score.
At this phase of life, it is also advisable to purchase a term insurance plan and continue with investments in mutual funds. Investing is a life-long process. Make sure to track the investments and review the performance of the portfolio at regular intervals.
3. Single parent:
Whether a widow or a divorcee with children or just a woman with a family where she is the sole breadwinner as well as the only parent, the responsibility is enormous. Apart from education and wedding expenses, there should be a separate retirement plan.
On the sad demise of a spouse, use the proceeds of encashed term insurance to pay off the mortgage loan (if there was one). As a single woman raising her children, it can feel extremely overwhelming to manage finances as well as take care of the children’s daily mental and emotional needs. The financial aspect of your life can be handled by keeping yourself well-informed about the market, investment options as well as planning out a future for your kids and arranging the funds accordingly.
The best way to go about these investments is by distributing them into short and long term financial goals/ milestones. Make sure that you diversify your investments which will lower your risk.
As the adage goes ‘save for the rainy day,’ women must begin financial literacy very early in life. They will gain a good headstart, and as the years roll on, the confidence and mastery over financial planning will set in.
Saving money is great, but investments and responsible ones at that are equally important. Understand how the stock market works, learn where to invest funds and create a passion for financial literacy.
Managing, handling and investing money is a struggle, and although women are aware of the challenges ahead, they must network with other women to ensure each other’s progress and well being. After all, no one knows a woman’s struggle like another woman herself!