“For far too long, I have depended on my husband for allowing myself small luxuries and indulgences from time to time. Like countless other women in our society, I have believed for the major part of my life that financial management in households should be compartmentalized according to gender. However, ten years ago when my daughters started working and became financially independent, they brought about a complete change in my perceptions towards money,” Poonam Saluja, a 63-year-old homemaker based in Delhi gushes as she talks about her journey to financial freedom.
Women in our country have been kept eons away from financial inclusion. Patriarchal societal norms and entrenched ideas about gender roles have ensured women stay financially dependent on male members of their families all through their lives – fathers and brothers before marriage and husbands after marriage. This is not just true in the cases of women who do not have individual sources of income – women who have been employed or have separate income streams all too often succumb to the idea that the gamut of saving and investing should necessarily be handled by men.
Change is underway with more and more women especially those belonging to the younger coterie realizing the importance of being in control of their finances without having to lean on the men in their lives for managing money. While it has been easier for them to get inducted into the folds of financial inclusion, older women, particularly those who fall in the category of senior citizens still have a long way to go.
Saluja says, “My attainment of a significant degree of financial independence has only been possible because of my daughters. But when I see my friends and women in my family who belong to the same age group as me , I realize with age it becomes harder for many women to learn the ropes of financial planning. Negative perceptions about women managing money become too deeply rooted and without adequate guidance, it is hard to bring about a change in one’s belief systems. Also, our financial system is woefully lacking in products designed for women. The plight of 60+ women whose movement beyond the confines of the domestic realm has been severely restricted by their families is worse – even going to the bank can feel like an impossible task without a man accompanying them.”
Saluja, with a little help from her daughters, has now become adept at managing her own money. She proudly tells us that she has SIPs in mutual fund investments and over the years she has been able to glean sufficient knowledge about different investment products. “I am travelling to Sikkim for a ten day tour with my friends and I can proudly say that this is the first time I am ticking off an item from my bucket list without having to turn to my husband. I had been investing for this trip for a year now. I keep telling my friends now that they should also learn investing and that there is so much we can easily learn from the internet and with a little help from our children. A little dedication can go a long way,” she quips.
Preeti Zende, founder of Apna Dhan Financial Services says women who are more than 60 years of age should not get too caught up in stashing cash. “Homemakers generally tend to keep aside a portion of the allowance that they get from their fathers and in-laws for spending on themselves and this is generally held in the form of cash. However, that habit is detrimental as the money has no scope of growing. Mutual fund investments have become extremely convenient these days and women can make the most of it – you just need a smartphone and ₹500 to start an SIP by yourself in a mutual fund scheme and that too this can be done from the comfort of your home.”
Zende explaining how women can go about investing for their goals for their bucket list says, “Post 60 is that period of life when we can live our life fully, fulfill our dreams and follow our passion and hobbies. This can be achieved if they invest their money in proper financial products which guarantee them regular income, capital protection, and a good rate of return. For ticking items from your bucket list, you should choose suitable products keeping the time horizon in mind. For short-term goals, you can park your money in a Liquid fund and as well an arbitrage fund. You can liquidate the amount which you need to fulfill your wish from a bucket list and the remaining amount will be helpful for you to generate some return. You can also use the bank or postal FDs for this purpose as for senior citizens now the interest rate is more lucrative than debt funds. Long term wish list can be fulfilled by investing in index funds and Flexicap funds. ”
– If you are new to the journey of money management and are finding it difficult to stay on track, get help from your children or relatives or friends who have solid financial knowhow. A veneer of familiarity can fast track the learning process and help you gain the confidence needed to manage your own money.
– In case you do not have health insurance coverage – either through a family plan or through an individual plan, you should get one. Few things can derail your financial goals as much as medical emergencies.
– For ticking items from your bucket list, you should choose suitable products keeping the time horizon in mind. For short-term goals, you can park your money in a Liquid fund and as well an arbitrage fund.
– Mutual fund investments have become extremely convenient these days and women can make the most of it – you just need a smartphone and ₹500 to start an SIP by yourself in a mutual fund scheme and that too this can be done from the comfort of your home
This article is part of the HT Friday Finance series published in association with Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund.