A lot has been said and written on the fact that women must take control of their finances and we, at Wealth Cafe, strongly believe that. Being Financially independent gives you the real power to make your own choices and take control of your life.
But then, why are women not managing their money on their own?
We know that women are great savers, but when it comes to making a decision to invest the money they find themselves short on confidence. This is because finance has never been the first choice of role for women. They have never been part of money discussions at home or socially resulting in their lack of interest and hence the underconfidence.
Growing up, I personally remember being told to make the perfect chapatis but discussions about decreasing interest rates in the 1990s were reserved for my male cousins. Well, today, I can’t comment on my chapati-making skills but I can definitely explain everything about interest rates. Qualification aside, I am financially aware because of my upbringing where my father discussed money with me in our daily conversations.
An educated man is one person. An educated woman is an educated family. And this applies to money education as well.
So how can men change these years of social conditioning and empower the women in their lives to handle money better?.
Let me answer this by looking at the various relationships around me:
I remember I was 14 when my father was driving me back from school and telling me that I am old enough now and I should know all about the investments he had made. For a teenager who had just entered her 10th grade and was worrying about getting her maths right, this conversation seemed pretty out of context. He showed me this red book in which he kept all the records (it was 2005) and also explained to me what insurances he had and whom to reach out to. This was the beginning of my financial journey which set the foundation of what I am writing here today. Here are three ways you can start talking to your daughters about money:
- Once a week, over dinner, discuss your work and your investments with her.
- At any age, as early as 5 years, open a bank account in her name and teach her how to use an ATM or debit card.
- Talk and support other women in your life, she will learn what she sees.
Like any habit, she will learn by watching you. Expose her to good money habits so that she gets a strong foundation early in life.
The relationship between a son and mother is very beautiful and unconditional with mothers giving it all taking care of their sons. As a son, you can reciprocate that by equipping her with the basic survival financial skills. Here are some starting ideas:
- Sit with your mother and explain to her how banking transactions work. Show her how to use the mobile app and make her do it on her own. Watch. Be patient. Repeat.
- Educate her about the basic frauds and how she should be careful about the PINs, OTPs, and cards. She needs to learn to be careful rather than avoid using technology completely.
- Transfer some funds to her account each month, and let her use the money as she pleases, no questions asked. She will begin to feel financially free. No one deserves it more.
- Make some investments in her name and show her the statements for the investments. Let her feel proud of what she owns and give her a regular update on the value of her investments.
By equipping her with the basic skills, you are doing a favour to yourself as you have another person whom you can speak about money, before making decisions. Every now and then, I get INR 500 on Gpay as ‘nek’ / ’ tyohaar ka shagun’ from my mother and a cute WhatsApp message saying - “maine bhej diye paise” (I have sent the money). It's a small thing, but a huge step in blurring the distances between us.
With marriage, your lives get entwined together, more so financially. Whether working or not, your wife can play a critical role in easing your financial life. So some of the things you can do to support your wife are:
- Sit together and set your future goals and how you both can save and invest to achieve these goals. Having common goals results in a smoother life.
- Discuss your bank accounts, investments, and insurances you have. Ensure she is a part of your meetings with your Chartered Accountant, your Financial advisors, and your Insurance agents.
- Especially when your wife is a homemaker, encourage her to do more than just manage the expenses. For example, let her manage the credit cards payments or track the insurance premiums due and actually make the payments.
Be patient if all of this is new to her. In case you ever face an emergency, she will be the person nearest to you and in the best position to make a decision. A financially aware decision can make a lot of difference.
Siblings have a cute love and hate relationship. I do not have a brother so I was spared of all the crickets and bashing as a child. Apart from the fun, as a brother, you can be her stepping stone to develop the interest and knowledge in matters relating to money. Three things that you can start with:
- On celebrations, gift her financial instruments like stocks, mutual funds, SGBs instead of cash.
- If you are part of a family business, you can encourage her to be more involved, take her side, share her insights with your family.
- Be more proactive and push her to take care of her own finances.
Wealth Cafe Advice
You can be a ‘real man’ by taking these small steps in making the women in your life financially aware and self-dependent. Talk to the women in your life as an equal, as your friend, keeping aside the attitude of ‘know it all. Remember that as men, money is taught to you at every step but as women, we have to take the extra steps to learn about it.
Be a part of our support system.