Whenever I hear the phrase financial literacy of women, an image that comes to my mind is of our mum. She is now in her seventies and I doubt she had even heard this phrase. But she was our first lesson in personal finance management. She became a trained nurse in her early twenties. She was financially independent and was making an equal contribution to the economy of the family.
We never saw our parents discussing money, but we saw them shouldering the responsibility of the family stoically and silently. When I started earning and was trying to become self-sufficient, I could feel the financial burden. In those times, I used to wonder, why I never saw my parents worried? Didn’t they face a money crisis ever in their life? I know that’s practically impossible, so what did I miss. Thinking back I tried implementing the small practices I saw mum following. To my surprise, her age-old practices are still relevant and the same albeit named differently. Till today, she hardly discusses money with us. However, I find her still very much financially aware. She keeps herself up to date with all financial news that’ll affect dad and her. And she loves phoning me up to discuss money topics on which she needs more understanding.
I appreciate her, even more, when I see women who are completely oblivious about money management. They panic when they find themselves in charge of family finances. They lack an understanding of ways to manage finances acquired through an inheritance or because of the sudden demise of their spouse. This is usually more common amongst stay-at-home mothers. But I feel amazed when sometimes even working women are equally unaware of their spouse’s financial dealings. They seem to be ignorant of the liabilities incurred or the properties charged as securities to banks.
Here I am remodeling some of the practices that I find relevant even today. More so, when women are now playing an active and major role in managing family’s finances.
1. A little bit of financial discipline.
With the world so glittery today, anything and everything catches our fancy. But I learned that instant gratifications of each and every want will only lead to financial imbalance which can be avoided by proper planning. If something is desired by the kids or you want it for yourself, manoeuvre through your budget and see whether it can be afforded as of now. If no, then all have to wait till extra expense may be accommodated.
2. Always saving a part of the monthly income, however small may be the amount.
The pre-digital era was difficult; everyone had to go to the bank for every small saving. My Mom did too. However small the amount was, I have seen her opening a recurring deposit and meticulously depositing every month. She had dates fixed for the very day she received her salary. The current digital world has not only brought the banks to our palms and laps, but we can also open our accounts RDs, fixed deposits, and whatnot. All banks have developed their own mobile phone apps which have made banking far easier. The ease of doing transactions has reached a height never imagined before.
3. Saving and investing wisely
We invest to make our money grow. Savings should not be treated as investments. You should monitor both savings and investments diligently and reinvest or direct elsewhere so that money keeps on growing. Make it a habit of opening the apps at least twice a day, even if nothing’s happening. Just for the sake of checking.
4. Diversifying your portfolio
Today’s financial world, though more complex, but also offers the whole gamut of diversified products ranging from debt, equity, bonds, etc. I recently read somewhere that it’s good to put all your eggs in one basket provided you know the basket really well. However, I will still stick to the traditional phrase of not putting all the eggs in one basket. Diversifying the investment portfolio will provide adequate cushions in case of the market sinking.
5. Taking care of health insurance/ medical emergencies
Our Mom was a trained and qualified nurse, so she knew all about medical emergencies and the cost involved therein. So we had two mantras, try to remain healthy and save for medical emergencies. I follow this rule diligently every day.
Being vigilant about our cash inflow and outflow is an important lesson which we all need to incorporate into our life.