For decades, the assumed image of an Indian woman has been that of a saree-clad, bindi-laden, timid individual who is supposed to shy away from any responsibilities other than those of the household and the family. As times change, this image is anything but laughable to associate with the modern Indian woman.
Today, women in India struggle equally to have a good work-life balance, as their male counterparts. Be it the boardroom, a fighter jet, or even as the lead of a space mission, they have very much been there and done that. But then the question arises, why do most women let men take charge of their finances? Why do a lot of them allow men to be the decision-makers of money matters? Let’s probe into these questions and try to address the growing need for women to control their financial matters.
Is it a man’s world?
Here’s a look at some history and culture behind women letting men take charge of financial matters:
Do they know more than women?
Many of us may have known our mothers and grandmothers as the bread-earners of our families. However, with the finances, they’ve always been readily allowing their husbands and fathers to take charge on their behalf. This is mainly because they assumed men to know it all, the best investment options, profits, and the likes. Not much seems to have changed, as many women still fall back on the male members of the family for financial advice. The need of the hour is a mindset change, as people must understand that managing finances is as gender neutral an activity as any other stream of work.
What about women entrepreneurs?
Historically, few have taken the number of women entrepreneurs in the country seriously. If they could be entrepreneurs, they must very well know their finances. Today, with the availability of statistics, we know that nearly 56.67 percent of women entrepreneurs in India take independent financial decisions and 38.71 percent take joint decisions by involving their spouse, father, or another important person.
How women can take charge of finances
A growing number of women are getting educated and achieving success that is parallel to men. It is high time that every woman stops being on the sidelines with her financial matters. Women must learn and understand all the facets of better financial management. Here’s how they can go about it:
- Take independent financial decisions– Being financially independent makes one self-sufficient, irrespective of gender. Financially independent women don’t have to rely on anyone for making crucial financial decisions. Women must consider this as a measure of success, just like any other field of work. With independent financial decision-making, a woman can easily face many odds of life such as separation, retirement, children’s education.
- Set financial goals – Just the way they aim for a high-paying competitive job, women must have a definite goal for their finances. With a defined goal, it becomes far easier to reach the desired destination. It could be retirement goals, family-planning, planning for emergencies, or for marriage. Women must also take charge of family financial goals to get a broader perspective. While you do this, look at some of the financial mistakes you should avoid.
- Start saving – If modern women believe themselves to be truly independent, they first need to save right from the moment that they earn. Young women who are not yet committed to a family can afford higher amounts of savings through various investments. The aim should be to put aside at least 20-30% of their monthly income. These can come in handy during unforeseen situations, and they can independently cope up with a financial emergency.
- Have knowledge of investments – Understanding where to park one’s money is no rocket science. It is all about gaining knowledge of investment options and choosing the right one as per individual goals. Women must equip themselves with knowledge of investments and periodically try out various avenues to learn about their risk-return profiles. This will gradually reduce any dependency on their male family members in personal financial management.
- Invest in insurance – As is assumed in the case of men, a woman too is the pillar of her family. Therefore, financially securing her life is of equal importance. This is when life insurance comes into the picture. Adequate health insurance coverage (over and above the one allowed by your employer) is essential- be it a single woman or one with a family. Some of the other coverages that are equally important are motor insurance, home insurance, and travel insurance. Do not think that insurance is an avoidable expense, it’s an essential tool that can help women deal effectively with emergencies.
A woman’s success must not be defined based on the amount of balance she can achieve between her workplace, family, and home. They have equal rights to have a career and look after their families. As times change, women must think beyond being the perfect daughter, mother, wife, and sister. They must focus equally on their monetary growth by taking charge of their finances and not shy away from financial matters.