A majority of Indian women still depend on men, when it comes to managing their wealth. We often hand them the reigns of our finances and relieve ourselves of the burden of financial planning. There is nothing wrong with seeking advice from your spouse/partner or boyfriend, when it comes to making investments, but to let someone else manage what you earn is like letting someone else bake a cake batter which you mixed. You will have no clue about the outcome, despite knowing exactly what you put in.
Also, financial mis-planning is a common cause of discord among couples, where the onus of blame falls on men, though wrongfully. Why must they be solely responsible for investing and saving, when it is the two of you who earn? I know that financial planning may not be one of the strong suits for many women. Even I belong to the vast majority whose brain shuts down every time someone starts talking about stocks, and insurance and SIPs. However, I have learned recently that it is not enough to earn a big paycheck, or amass a lot of wealth, unless you know how to tend to it on your own.
Why depend on someone, when you can do it on your own?
Due to gendered division of household duties in our society, managing finances remains primarily a male agenda. As it is the men of the house who are still primary earners in most Indian households.
Boys from a young age are encouraged to develop an interest in money. The idea that it is their responsibility to earn well, spend wisely and invest their money right, is planted in their heads very early on. Girls, on the other hand, seldom get that kind of pep talk from either parents or immediate relatives. Even when they begin to earn, it is expected from them that they will hand over whatever they earn to the man of the house, who will “take care” of it. The conversation of finances and financial management almost never happens in the vicinity of girls.
- A majority of Indian women still depend on men, when it comes to managing their wealth.
- Due to the gendered division of household duties in our society, managing finances remains primarily a male agenda.
- Girls are still mostly sidelined from the conversation surrounding money and its management in the majority of Indian households.
- But with proper knowledge and support women can take the reigns of their finances in their own hands and end this critical dependency on men.
Which means they do not even develop an interest in the area, let alone learn to manage wealth. Despite earning decent paychecks, they remain dependent on men for managing every penny they own. The lack of knowledge is often used by men with an oppressive mindset to control women. They deliberately withhold money from them, so that women have to practically beg for money in times of need, even if it belongs to them. On the other hand, it is also unfair to burden men with this extra amount of stress unnecessarily.
Patriarchy has been unfair to men on many accounts as well. Taxing them with the responsibility of managing wealth solely, is one of them.
For any well-meaning man, it becomes a matter of self-respect to manage his spouse’s money even better than he manages his own. Besides, women suffer from catastrophic consequences when due to unfortunate consequences, their partners no longer remain by their side. It becomes a struggle of a different kind to understand investments and policies in middle or advanced ages and without having any context to work on. Often in the case of sudden death of the partner, women become clueless in matters of property and earnings.
Which is why, instead of waiting for a prince charming to come and rescue you of all your financial headaches, be your own saviour. If you lack confidence in your capabilities at managing your money, then why not look at the very culture which has sidelined you from this conversation for generations? When it comes to managing money within a home, the responsibility has always fallen on the women.
It is the mothers and wives who manage and even save whatever cash is put in their hands on a monthly basis. Making sure that all bills are paid and there are vegetables and supplies in the pantry.
That there is shampoo and soap in the bathroom, even on the last day of a month. We have all seen moms and grandmas buy gold and utensils with savings they hid in chawal ka dibba. They would put the money hidden in some devious corner of their almirah to good use when daddy would refuse us a treat, because it was month end or a difficult time for him, money-wise. Isn’t that exceptional money managing? Making sure your earnings fulfil all your needs and then manage to save some, and then some more…?
We have it in ourselves, the knack to manage our money. It is just proper knowledge and confidence that we lack. As far as making mistakes is concerned, bad investments and returns only make you more experienced, leaving you wiser than ever. Men face this too. So don’t let anybody rub your gender in your face when you make a poor financial decision. Neither let the big terms and fancy names of schemes get to you. Proceed by keeping in mind that managing your money is only going to make you less dependent on your partner. It will increase your confidence and make you more worldly-wise. But the only way for that to happen is to take that first step. Take the reigns of your money in your hand once and for all and commit to managing it yourself.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.