When independence truly matters
It is important to get one’s finances in order first
My 32-year old niece has just one request: she does not want to be pestered to get married. As a good looking, stylish, well-earning girl from a good family, her mother sees her as more than eligible. As an independent woman, my niece sees no point in marriage.
In the good old days, a woman needed a man for many reasons, she says. For some it was status, or financial security; or protection from other prying eyes. My niece argues that none of those reasons hold good now and that is too high a price for a few years of legitimate sex. There are enough children already to care for, why bring more into the world?
It is liberating to see that girls are standing up for their beliefs and defying social norms. But what about settling down, the father asks. Let’s put the finances in order, she replies and asks for a list.
First, my niece should move into her own space. She should experience first hand what it is like to be on her own and take responsibility for independent living. Second, she should allocate her money into clear buckets of mandatory expenses, discretionary expenses and savings. She should be able to fit her mandatory expenses in less than half her income. Third, what is the pattern of her discretionary spending? How much does she spend on shopping, etc? Do the fun expenses fit into her income? Fourth, is she sav- ing at least 20% of her income? Already in her thirties, what if she faces the risk of a job change? Saving habit and the security of financial assets would be rescue. Fifth, does she have a money philosophy? Without well thought out frame, she will find her money life drifting aimlessly. Sixth, how well is she covered for emergencies? Does she have adequate medical cover? What if her parents took ill? Seventh, how independent is she with her financial decisions? Does she know how to invest, do the paperwork, transact with service providers, etc?
My niece is unfazed by all this. She is confident that she will stay in this job or find another one if need be. She likes the idea of living by herself and sees no need to own a house or a car. She is willing to make a budget, track her expenses and continue saving. While the world of finance and investing is new to her as her father has always managed it for her, she thinks that with little effort she will be able to figure it out. She wants to weave an annual vacation with her parents in her plans. She tells them there would no nagging husband or in laws to restrict her involvement with them. What about the middle age, her mother asks. There will always be friends, the people who have been with us long enough.
There is no point arguing with her, we surmise. She promises to take charge of her finances and is confident of doing well. What about the romantic notions of returning to find love at home? She says she has traded it off for the joys of the big and beautiful world.