Don't make ex­cuses; Learn to plan your money

The Pak Banker - - OPINION - Lisa Pallavi Barbora

FI­NAN­CIAL plan­ning ought not to be gen­der spe­cific. Yet, we hear and read a lot about women tak­ing a back seat when it comes to this topic. Plan­ners say it's be­cause of a com­bi­na­tion of lack of in­ter­est, fi­nan­cial in­er­tia and tra­di­tional role shar­ing (for mar­ried cou­ples). One of the ba­sic is­sues is a bit of un­der-con­fi­dence among women when it comes to talk­ing about fi­nan­cial mat­ters. In a study con­ducted by mar­ket­ing re­search firm Kel­ton on be­half of Fi­delity In­vest­ments in 2014, it was found that out of about 1,500 women who were sur­veyed, eight in 10 would re­frain from dis­cussing fi­nances even with those they are close to. The sur­vey also found that less than half the women said that they were con­fi­dent about dis­cussing money and in­vest­ing with a fi­nan­cial pro­fes­sional on their own.

This sur­vey was con­ducted on­line and based on re­sponses from women work­ing (or re­tired) in the US. In­dian plan­ners whom Mint spoke to have sup­ported th­ese find­ings. Typ­i­cally, the aware­ness about fi­nan­cial plan­ning and its need comes about when you have a fam­ily (both for men and women) or when your in­come is high enough so that sav­ings are more than what you can spend. It's never too early to know how to grow your money. But why the al­leged ap­a­thy from women to­wards in­vest­ing? There could be a num­ber of rea­sons, and if you (as­sum­ing you are a woman who in­vests or at least wants to) iden­tify with any of the rea­sons given below, read on to know why it's time to stop mak­ing ex­cuses and start in­vest­ing. And in the next few pages, find out why you need a plan, the best fi­nan­cial prod­ucts to buy and even the smartest ways to spend. To help you along the jour­ney are words of wis­dom from those who have been there and done that.

Go­ing through per­cent­ages, re­turns, sum as­sured and so on isn't some­thing many want to do. How­ever, the out­come of it-a fi­nan­cial pla­nis in­valu­able. Once you start a fam­ily, there are re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that come to the fore-chil­dren, house, re­tire­ment, and so on. Your hus­band might un­der­stand all of this bet­ter, but if you are aware of the fam­ily's fi­nances, then to­gether you can im­pact the out­come pos­i­tively. "Women are at the cen­tre of the fam­ily and with­out them the en­tire fam­ily is at a loss. Some­times, women aren't en­cour­aged to look into fi­nan­cial mat­ters and in­vest­ments and many times they them­selves don't want to take on the ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity," said Alpa Shah, di­rec­tor, Next Level Education Pvt. Ltd, and founder, Free­dom Foun­da­tion, a non-gov- ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion. Be­ing in­volved in money mat­ters shouldn't be seen as an ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity-it is a ba­sic ne­ces­sity. If you don't un­der­stand num­bers, start slowly, and read up on ba­sic ter­mi­nol­ogy. Prod­uct spe­cific in­for­ma­tion can be ac­cessed on­line through com­pany web­sites in the FAQ sec­tions, and re­views and com­par­isons, too, can be ac­cessed eas­ily.

While this might be the case, it isn't rea­son enough to shy away from get­ting in­cluded in in­vest­ment dis­cus­sions. Kavitha Menon, a Mum­bai-based fi­nan­cial plan­ner, said that work­ing women are able to lend them­selves to per­sonal fi­nan­cial man­age­ment as they might be con­scious about the money they earn. At the same time, she said, "I also meet women who, if they earn much lesser than their part­ners, feel that their earn­ings are more like pocket money and it is the hus­band's in­come which should be utilised to­wards things like sav­ings and in­vest­ments." Many plan­ners we spoke to said that they in­sist on meet­ing both spouses in the ini­tial stages of fi­nan­cial plan­ning. "De­tail­ing of a plan is much more rel­e­vant if both part­ners are present. In gen­eral, women tend to live longer than men, so be­ing aware of fi­nan­cial prod­ucts is im­por­tant," said Ab­hishake Mathur, head­in­vest­ment ad­vi­sory, ICICI Se­cu­ri­ties Ltd.

How­ever, some plan­ners find that it's eas­ier said than done to get women in­volved. "There is a cer­tain wari­ness about fi­nances, and women of­ten don't want to ap­ply them­selves in un­der­stand­ing what a fi­nan­cial plan is," said Nis­reen Ma­maji, a cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner, and founder, Money­works Fi­nan­cial Ad­vi­sors. It feels good to have the in­de­pen­dence to spend your money the way you want. But why should your fam­ily's fi­nan­cial fu­ture be only your hus­band's re­spon­si­bil­ity? You can do both. Fi­nan­cial plan­ners have spo­ken about in­stances where the hus­band, who is pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble for in­vest­ment de­ci­sions, has in­sisted that the wife not be in­volved, as ' she wouldn't un­der­stand'.

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