Women are increasingly lending a helping hand to their spouses these days, in bearing the burden of household expenses. While earlier men had to singularly be accountable for paying the bills and children’s tuition, women these days are embracing gender equality in its truest sense and saying- this is a team effort. Also, women are not just sharing this financial burden with their partners, but also pushing them to follow their passion, taking charge of all the expenses on their own. Three such women share their inspiring journeys with us.
Soma Bolar, Manager, Head of Business Alliance and Partnerships in a corporate company took charge of the household expenses two years back. “I have been working in the corporate sector for the last fifteen years now. Two years back my husband, who was then in the corporate sector, decided that he wanted to focus on his music career instead, and thus he left his job.”
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Since her husband doesn’t plan to go back to his regular corporate life, this means that for the time being, Soma is solely in charge of the couple’s finances. Does this very thought intimidate her? “Not really,” she says, “because firstly I have known him for many many years and music was always a priority for him across jobs. Since he had been balancing his passion and career for a long time, I could see this coming for a few years now. The fact that I was in a stable well-paying job, helped him take that decision.”
Bolar reveals her financial strategy to deal with this change, “We were never big spenders, and most of our expenditures are on travel, as that is the luxury that we enjoy. So at least for now the situation is in control and we don’t have to think too much about the finances.
I really want my husband to continue pursuing his career in music and not go back to corporate life due to financial compulsions. To ensure that I have invested in mutual funds and other traditional investment instruments. One thing that also works in our favour is that we own our own house and that gives us a sense of security.”
Sometimes men have to also compromise of advancement in their career, because higher studies would mean giving up on a steady paycheck. Saryu Bansal, Owner, House of Whisk, a gourmet baking studio didn’t let the lure of a steady paycheck stop her husband from studying further. “My husband took a break from work as he wanted to a certain certification course, back in 2012. So while he was studying, I was working full time, but since we lived in a joint family I didn’t exactly feel the financial burden, so as to say,” she recalls.
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Since her husband’s certification lasted some two years, did she put any financial planning into place to ensure security? “Well I have always taken care of my own money. I am perhaps the biggest spendthrift on the planet, but I always have a savings plan at the back of my head. Whether it is investing it in Mutual Fund SIPs or traditional investment methods, I am always up to the task, and that has indeed come in handy. For instance, my husband’s exam fee itself was around 1 lakh 25 thousand rupees, and that was back in 2012, but all I had to do was dip into my savings and take it out.”
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Alfiya Ray, co-founder and designated partner at Priocare Health Services LLP, on the other hand, hasn’t just been contributing equally to the finances at home, she is an equal partner with her husband, when it comes to work too. “We run a healthcare start-up in Bangalore which was originally my brainchild and then my husband joined me. Now we have been running this venture for the past three and a half years. I have been taking care of the operations and marketing. Even when it comes to household expenses, we share them equally, although sometimes, it is more from my side.”
Speaking of investments measures she took to be in such a secure financial position, despite running a start-up, Ray says, “I didn’t know anything about financial planning earlier, so while I use to be earning, my husband used to manage my money. But after a couple of years I realised that just as I know the incoming of my finances, I should also know about the outgoing, especially exactly where my money has been invested. So I took to investing in
mutual funds on long term basis, and I also took a health plan which covers me and my husband. And today I even invest for my husband.”
Financial equality in relationships
These women have proved that equality works both ways, and that when it comes to finances, women must be ready to come to the aid of their partners, whenever the need arises, or simply if they are capable of doing so.
Soma opines, “The whole thought of being financially independent is such a great feeling. It fills you with a sense of pride and gives you a lot of freedom also. If one of the partners decides to leave their job and follow their passion, then in those situations, at least for a year or two, it is a big support if the other partner has his or her finances in place.”
Similarly, Bansal says that feminism is not about just liberalisation of women, it is about treating men at par too. “If you expect them to be equal parents, or contributing equally to household chores, when it comes to women contributing equally to finances, why should that take a back seat? If we expect equal contribution from them at every front, it is time that we made equal contribution on financial front as well.”
Alfiya adds weightage to the argument by saying that we need to get rid of old notions if we want to be equal partners in a marriage. “Earlier, women mostly used to be homemakers, but that is not the situation today. We go out and we earn our own money, and sometimes we even earn a bigger paycheck. But even today we live by the age old notion that it is a husband’s duty to provide, so whatever money women earn, they simply end up either
spending or saving it. The notion needs to go and saving needs to be about more than just stagnant old school investment techniques. So now that we work hand in hand with our husbands. Why not bear the financial burden with them?”
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