If you put two women in a room together there is bound to be chatter. It is a given that women love to talk if they hit it off and they probably can discuss any topic under the sun threadbare and some.
But as I have realised time and again, one topic where there is total incompatibility , is women & money! Oh,they are happy to gossip about keeping up with the Joneses and who bought what,but thats where it begins and ends.
I have been talking about financial planning and therefore financial independence with smart, young ,enagaging women where I live and at the workplace and the response I get is a blank stare and some whispers about how “its not my cup of tea, all these budget and savings and investments are men’s domain, goes above my head….and I even got a startling response that financially savvy women are unfeminine..”
I was reprimanded by a woman fifteen years junior to me with a moralistic advice, that money isn’t important, happiness is!
Normally the discussion ends there..
Well, I believe that in today’s world there is very little happiness without money. And I have yet to find ways to say it without sounding horribly mercenary.
How I wish I could take the discussion forward and obliterate the taboo around financial planning and independence. Actually “financial independence” is a heavily loaded word.If you strip it off, what it means to me is the ability to fashion a life which gives you the most happiness.
Financial planning and creation of wealth is the ability to fill your life with the most soul satisfying and joyful experiences one can imagine.
This seems simple enough.
But it doesnt seem to be accomplished simply.
The value of a thing or an experience is very very unique and personal which cannot be explained or justified to any other human being.
When we go shopping , buying my twenty fifth pair of shoe gives me immense joy. It leaves my best friend Tina, bewildered as she goes looking for the new super gourmet restaurant serving some exotic mix of world fusion of moroccon….Srilankan….cuisine.
I would be more than happy to have a quick Subway sandwich and takeoff.
The psychological value of stuff is different for different people. Not many people can get actually get everything they want in life,so they have to prioritise.
My spouse is happy to pay a lot of money to go halfway around the world to watch a football match which will last all of two hours but will balk at the prospect of buying a new car.
Another friend Samaira bought a swanky house in an upmarket residential complex..but hasnt taken a holiday in five years.
My neighbour Sharma unflinchingly paid over a lakh of Rupees to get his dog operated but does not own a smartphone.
My colleague Reena,skimps on lunch as her heart is set on a solitaire.
The whole gamut of financial planning and creating of wealth is to create a quality of life which will be worth living. If you ask yourself do you need to plan for retirement or medical insurance, in your heart of hearts you know that howsoever tedious a task, you do probably need it.
Ignore that and some day probably you may not be able to afford the Alsaskan cruise you were so looking forward to.These tasks which may be perceived as dull & boring but they keep you from being miserable at some future date.
So coming back to women & planning, housewives obviously are at a somewhat disadvantage as they do not actually “earn” anything.
But these days modern husbands are non chauvinistic and do not meddle into how their wives manage their home budgets.
Most women do save from their budgets but rarely do they delve into investing and growing their wealth. At most they will end up buying gifts for relatives or gold & precious stones.
How I wish I could get this message across that investing and managing investments requires school level math and common sense. Financial planning would free them from the annoyance of justifying their spends to their spouses.
How can one explain the delight of owning an extravagant Louis Vuitton bag to a sedate, staid but nonetheless a loving husband? He would be horrified at the utter waste!
A friend, I will call her Priya, who has chosen to be a housewife as they were comfortably off, was happy about it , but confided once to me that she wished she could financially help out her parents and brothers.
Women who have chosen to be in the workforce take home good pay checks and contribute to the running of their homes or pay for kids education. But I wish more women would take interest in understanding markets and take pride in making their savings grow.
Having surplus cash is about having the freedom to get things and experiences which you really really love and need.
And not about complex algorithms for trading in derivatives. Leave that to the experts who love doing that.
So ladies, growing your networth is not just about growing your bank balance.
Growing your networth is having the means to design the life you love.
Go get a life!