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Women and Financial Planning

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Ms. Vibha Padalkar , MD and CEO.

Her thoughts on why it is essential for women to be planning their finances on their own if they aren’t doing it already.

Often, men hold sway in making the bigger financial decisions. Women, on the other hand, are believed to be less confident when it comes to such matters. But it’s actually very easy to make the pendulum swing the other way.

Women have traditionally run their homes proficiently, often keeping a tight rein on their family’s day-to-day household spending. We all have grown up watching our mothers keep track of the monthly expenses and cut down on overspending.

Sometimes they would keep aside tiny amounts of cash from their salary or the sum they received from our fathers to manage the household. The money would then be hidden in kitchen jars, in the dark corners of cupboards, or under mattresses. Some of them would even contribute equal amounts of money to a kitty every month, and use a raffle-like system to select a member who’d get the entire lot that month. Whether it was cash stashed away at regular intervals that, over time, grew into a significant reserve, or a lump sum amount won through a kitty, such emergency funds are what often helped make possible that long-overdue family vacation, postponed medical procedure, or home repairs.

In today’s world, women continue to take charge of decisions on planning and controlling their household’s monthly expenses. But, despite being a key decision maker on money management in the household, when it comes to making bigger decisions such as those on financial planning, their participation is still low. Rather, they depend on their father or husband to make these major decisions for them.

It is important that women manage their own money and investments, and on the whole, get more engaged in making financial decisions. Smart planning by a woman of her own finances will help her meet her personal and professional aspirations, that too without depending on anyone. It will also enable her to financially support her family's goals such as buying a dream home.

As a woman, do you think that financial planning is not your cup of tea? You may be steadily climbing up the career ladder, but you need to understand that being financially independent not only involves earning money, but also utilising it smartly. Consider this: The banking and financial services sector in India has several women at the helm of affairs. These are women who have broken through the glass ceiling in what was traditionally a male bastion. They are far more trusting of their decisions and intuition, and therefore, are confident about their judgements as far as financial decisions are concerned.

In the 29 years of my financial career I have always had to do a lot of number crunching and have had to pay attention to detail. Being technically sound and not being averse to financial matters has always helped.

Still taking a step back when it comes to making big finance decisions on your own? The truth is, once you start spending some time learning about it, you’ll find it neither difficult nor confusing. Begin by taking small but steady steps forward: read about financial planning, have honest conversations with your family and consult financial experts. Initially, set aside and invest smaller amounts, and gradually take charge of your personal finance.

But sometimes, your savings can be inadequate to handle the big curveballs that life throws your way, such as illness or unemployment. Insurance plans can ensure your financial well-being—thereby offering greater certainty—in face of the contingencies of life. So start planning wisely.

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