Financial Empowerment is among the few essential things focusing on the idea of self-liberation. The topic of Financial Empowerment has been at the focal point of the Women’s Rights Movement.
History has shown a significant change in the roles and responsibilities performed by women. Depending upon the time frame you choose, you could quickly notice these variations. From being a keeper of the households during ancient and medieval times, being emergency gateways during the wars of the 20th century, or be it looking out for corporates and governments during the modern times. Women have accumulated the most diversified portfolio of all those exist. The part played by women so far is subjected to social dogmas, stereotypes, etc.
However, times are changing, breaking every inch of the shackles held until the date. One of the most important reasons for women still being in bonds is the omission from decisive criteria. Yet, women are considered as a financial gatekeepers for operating.
Women And Money
The 21st Century provides room for women to regulate their decisive capabilities along with men. There isn’t much contrast in men’s and women’s lives today, yet certain aspects still differ. Most of these differences are not mainly in desires and needs but rather in small approaches towards these needs and desires. Men want to own a car, a house, laying off some steam with peers, a vacation off from a busy schedule, provide for their families and peers, a good retirement, and to own a respectful life, etc. Now, let us start with what do women want?
Isn’t it the same things as what the men need and desire? Their approaches may change, like when to have, where to have, what to have, how to have, with whom to have, etc. However, the base of demand for goods and services they need or desire is indifferent.
- Margaret Thatcher said, “Any woman who understands the problem of running a home will be nearer to understand the problems of running a country.”
Most men can fulfill their demands. At the same time, many women do not enjoy such liberty. It happens mainly because most of the time, women and money do not go along. In an average life, a woman’s earning is far less than what a man makes.
- Initially, they are “entrusted” with particular roles and responsibilities, and soon the same became a part of their everyday job, which leaves no room for them to choose for their demands.
A woman at first is a daughter/ sister then she becomes a wife and then she mothers, and finally she takes on the role of “housekeeper” for almost her entire life. Men too, play the same part, though the liberty to make their own decisions sets them at a higher bar relative to women. The commencement of the feminist dialectic warrants the above set of statements.
Typically, women are seen as financial gatekeepers at the end of the day. However, it could also be easily noticed that the financial and economic issues with men and women vary significantly; correspondingly, their way of wielding such issues also differs largely. Most of it happens because men are prepared psychologically from a very young age to make prudent decisions, be it in any aspect. Whereas very few of such efforts are been taken for young girls. One of the best outcomings of these modern times is that anyone can educate themselves easily, moreover helping themselves in fitting decision making.
Let’s look at certain steps which will help you to be a financially empowered woman in 2021.
1. Educating Oneself
In 2012, GSIR surveyed girls and finances. The study states that 12% of girls considered themselves “very confident” in making financial decisions. In comparison, most lack the confidence to make financial decisions.
The study made by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Centre (GFLEC) asked 150K random adults – across 140 countries – basic financial questions. It states only 30% of women to be financially literate. Most women chose “Do not know” to economic questions, as to the men who risked a wrong answer but still attempted to answer.
The Internet can provide loads of such data, proving women are weaker at finances. Still whether to believe in such a statement or not is a personal choice and can be argued on the point of perception. But the reality is that most women are dependent on someone for their primary financial concerns. Which in turn strips them of their independent decision-making abilities.
In general, women do shy away from taking financial decisions. The discomfort is just too much overwhelming for them, at most times. Even educated women stay putt, looking at their partners. We all know of this. We all have observed it so many times in our families and peers. And maybe if we have time for self-reflection, it could be observed among ourselves too.
Thus, women must start to take finances seriously. And how to do that? Let’s see;
- Try some time investing in good financial books.
- Get in touch with someone you know is good at finances and talk to them.
- Get in touch with financial institutions or local help groups.
- Try to attend financial conferences and get into groups with higher financial literacy.
- Enroll yourself in some financial management courses.
- If required, get some professional help, if needed.
- Finally, try to make some financial decisions, even if you fail. Learn from your mistake; you could relate to this if you can cook.
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2. Start making a Budget
It’s simple; if you don’t have money, you cannot purchase it. If you can’t purchase it because you don’t have a budget.
Everyone has a budget. Why?
- Because it guides them, helps them in assessing their needs and desires. And most importantly, it helps them acknowledge what they could have, what they couldn’t have, what they should have, and what they mustn’t.
It’s very easy to make a budget;
- Start with your income, calculate it and write it down. The absolute calculation is always better than approximate values.
- Calculate your expenses, note them down. Initially, start with principal monthly payments. Then move to costs that aren’t major but do repeatedly occur every week; note them down. And finally come to daily expenses, the small ones that take place daily. Everyday expenses can go very minute, so it’s better to call them wisely.
Prioritize your demands as their nature, are the needs or desires? Write them down on a piece of paper. Now, split your expenses as your needs and desires. Relate these expenses to your budget and see where do they stand with your income.
Finally, stick to your budget. Ensuring you save at least some part of your income for future use.
You can also use MoneyPatrol, a advanced financial management and budgeting tool that will aid you specifically in developing a budget and organizing your finances optimally.
- MoneyPatrol shows you exactly how your financial activities are going on and in what aspects they are moving on. It also helps you see various financial transactions running parallel in real-time, which in terms assists you in getting a better grasp for optimal utilization of all the resources.
3. Set up Short-term and Long-term Goals
It is essential to have goals as they guide our vision. We cannot even move around in a day without having a goal to do so, waking up at a specific hour, going to work, eating, talking to a friend or a random stranger. We plan every activity that we perform in a day. Sometimes we take days to do so. And at times instantaneously. But we always have a plan; we always make a plan.
Financial Planning, both short and long-term, assists in gathering the “desired” income levels and consisting all the ups and downs that an average individual faces. The absence of such goals leads to an aimless vision where resources are available but wasted instead of optimal utilization.
Short-term planning is essential in setting up a trend of Income and Outlays. It also serves in acknowledging the expected income levels, whether they could be achieved or not? Their time frame of achievement, and many more things.
Such goals may consist;
- Buying a car,
- Planning a vacation off,
- Investing in short term equities and shares,
- Buying a house,
- Renovation projects,
- Schooling/ Educational Fees, etc.
It is also essential to keep in mind that such goals and their achievement rate assert our current and future standard of living, which directly affects us psychologically and physically. This effect also proves substantial for our families and peers.
Long Term Planning also has the same weight as short term. It shows our destination. It aids right in recognizing our resources and how should be their optimal utilization to attain these plans and goals.
Such Long-term goals may consist;
- Planning a Retirement,
- Significant Investments and Insurances,
- Buying a Permanent Property,
- Preparing a Financial Will, etc.
Long-term goals are indispensable and must be considered by women. In many aspects of Family Planning, women share more direct and absolute roles and responsibilities. So, it is undeniable not just to stand with your partner in the end. But also, standing out instead for their partners in case of some unfortunate events.
As per the Fidelity Investments, Couples and Money study 2021 shows 27% of women are worried about their financial condition in case of the untimely death of their spouse. The anxieties in such events are justified, but obliged action should also be taken to elucidate such anxieties.
The Survey further states, 22% of women reported having little or no say in retirement or long-term planning. And 19% of women reported being the primary decision-makers for long-term planning and investments.
Thus, women’s active engagement in short-term and long-term planning and investment becomes significant as they are the primary caretaker/custodian of the entire family.
MoneyPatrols interactive user interface helps you notice various budgetary and investment trends with the help of pie diagrams, graphs, and various other tools, making it easy for you to understand the ongoing trend.
The ledger book system used by MoneyPatrol assists you in knowing the exact dates of putting on or taking off an investment record.
4. Creating an Emergency Fund
Emergency Fund works as a gateway to escape during the abrupt lapse of certainty in one’s life. If a person is accustomed to active engagement in financial decision-making, they are always familiar with it. Most people have these funds. A type of “hush” money is kept aside and forgotten until its time arrives.
Preparing and managing emergency funds is not an easy task but could be done bit by bit if a person has an active role in finances. It could also be an extremely exhausting job to prepare and manage it.
The thing with the emergency funds is that their use is always undesired. The Couples and Finance study, 2021, states that 33% of partners admitted pandemic had increased stress. Hence to be in such circumstances is not preferred by any individual. But the only certainty in life is “uncertainty” thus we should be equipped for unexpected locks.
You may have a strong partner who could look after finances for you, but there may be times when you would have to take their place or assist them. The study further shows that 22% of women are concerned about their partner not being financially set if they pass away first. At the same time, 27% of women are worried about not being financially prepared if their partner passes away first.
In both of the above situations, an untimely call has to be made. A solid emergency fund at such calls proves to be of much ease. Thus, it becomes crucial to keep this fund liquid and near.
There could be several types of emergency funds;
- Mutual Funds,
- Hedge Funds,
- Index Funds,
- Arbitrage Funds,
- Debt Funds,
- SIP Mutual Funds,
- ELSS Mutual Funds, etc.
A night won’t build emergency funds; it is a gradual process. Fix a specific period till you will have to save. Do not make any withdrawal from it until what the name suggests arrives, an emergency! Save some part of your income.
- It’s just like as John Bytheway said, “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life’s hard.”
5. Managing Debt-to-Income Ratio
In Economics, debts are usually considered as injections to consumption baskets of an individual or an institution. They provide extra purchasing power to consumers’ demand preferences. In real life, debts play the same roles during the initial phase, as they help us stretch our budgets. Thus, increasing our purchasing for a particular period.
However, with time if the debts are not repaid, soon they turn into liabilities. And these injections, which stretched our financial muscle, soon start to hurt as they get deepened. It proves vital to manage the debt-to-income ratio.
As per the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women hold roughly two-thirds of all the student debt in the USA. The 2021 AAUW report further states, women have $31,726 US on average after graduation with a loan repayment of $307 US after a year of graduation. Nearly 41% of female undergraduates borrow loans as to the 35% of male undergraduates.
Consumer debt and other forms of debt are also essential and must be considered in due thought. Many American women are dependent on their peers for consumer goods and services, which leaves them financially dependent on others. This could also be seen as the reason many women continue to stay in toxic and sometimes violent relations just for the sake of paying consumer goods. It is bad debt, a deadweight that should be treated initially, based on requirement and later on with desires.
Income generation and debt compensation from income are also crucial parts of finances, particularly for women relative to men. As AAUW 2021 report says, in full-time employed women earn 26% less as compared to men. This drastically affects their debt repayment, which results in making them prone to financial discrepancies.
Hence, it is very crucial for women to not just manage their expenses as per their income. But also their debt borrowing and repayments. In comparison, keeping in mind that they might be paid less than what they deserve.
Upon Further Analysis
Women take 2+ years for debt repayment than males as per the AAUW 2021 study.
Whereas, on average White women borrowed $31,346, African – American women borrowed $37,558, Hispanic women borrowed $27,029, and Asian women borrowed $25,507. Even though these are not much more than what men have of the respective races, they make a lot of difference because the income generation by women is still significantly less than men.
The AAUW study also states a sample budget of average American women.
- Average Per Annum Salary = $35,338
- Post Tax Salary = $29,203
- Average Salary Per Month = $2,434
- Housing Expenses = $920
- Vehicle Loan/lease =$396
- Student loan Repayment = $307
- Food Expenses = $387
- Utilities = $113
- Medical Expenses = $163
Thus remaining an approximately $148
Child Care cost for Single Mother +$520
Child Care results in a deficit of -$302
Not just for women but for anyone, it could be hard to shoulder all such burdens on oneself. Thus most women depend on someone to be financially empowered.
- Making them financially empowered but dependent, providing temporary access to fulfill their demands.
MoneyPatrol, assists and guides individuals in managing and regulating their finances with apt budgetary services for the optimal utilization of resources. Which will lead you to be an Independently Financially Empowered Woman in the new age.