Mrin Agarwal, a financial advisor is striving towards creating a world where women are involved in their own finances. She isn’t just talking about financial independence but financial well-being and is here to tell the women of the world to: Be Involved!!
Speaking with SheThePeople, Agarwal shared some insights on financial wellness and why it’s crucial. Going beyond earning, Agarwal lives by the mantra of being involved and owning your money. This is what she emphasises and wants everyone to religiously follow.
Owning Your Money: A Financial Advisor's Insights for Women
Financial wellness isn't just about having money; it's about knowing how to manage it for the life you want. This is especially crucial for women, who often face unique challenges in achieving financial independence. In this interview with a seasoned financial advisor, we explore these challenges and gain valuable insights for women navigating their financial journeys.
Beyond Earning: What is Financial Wellness?
Defining financial wellness and financial independence, Agarwal says it’s not just earning a salary, but having enough to "take care of all your needs and live life on your terms." This requires understanding the impact of financial decisions and actively working towards achieving the goal of financial independence. Women often confuse "earning" with true independence, neglecting investments and planning for the future.
Breaking Gender Barriers: Addressing Biases
Talking about the gender bias in money management, she highlights how despite progress, the field of finance is still male-dominated. Societal biases discourage women from engaging, fearing judgment post losses.
Talking about facing gender bias in her career, Agarwal points out that, “In my journey of 27 years, I have had only male clients and not faced gender bias. It might be because of the societal context I come from. But also, the fact that I have been confident about my knowledge and talk substance whenever I advise. They know I know whatever I am talking about.”
Urban vs. Rural Realities
Financial wellness differs between urban and rural women. Urban women prioritise retirement and investments, while rural women focus on immediate family needs. Advising what needs to be done, she says there is a need for tailored strategies to address these diverse financial realities.
For rural women, she advises formalising savings through banks instead of keeping money at home or relying solely on chit funds. They should also avoid getting carried away by myths surrounding insurance policies. Actively engaging in learning about financial options is crucial.
For women considering career breaks, she emphasises financial preparedness. Without enough resources, dependence on others and potential judgment become roadblocks. Building a nest egg before taking a break ensures control and flexibility.
Balancing Act: Juggling Responsibilities
Many women juggle caregiving, careers, and personal finances. In her advice to them, she highlights the importance of prioritising financial involvement despite competing responsibilities. She echoes her mantra, “Be involved ladies, and especially be aggressive with your investments and savings.” Handing over finances to others limits opportunities to build wealth and navigate challenges effectively, she opines.
Financial literacy is key to wise investments. Agarwal warns against misinformation on social media via these YouTube influencers and recommends reliable sources like subscribing to Financial Daily. She believes this will help women catch up with the vocabulary of investments and help them make informed choices.
Talking Money with Family: Transparency is Key
Open communication about finances within families and partners is vital, opines Agarwal. She emphasises transparency in sharing financial information with partners to ensure it’s not one-sided. Financial knowledge empowers women to participate in decision-making, especially in emergencies. Sharing information and jointly managing finances build trust and security.
She encourages having open conversations about money with children to dispel taboos and build awareness. She recommends practical exercises like shopping with price tags to help children understand budgeting and value.
Acknowledging the vital role of family support in a woman's financial journey, Agarwal recalls her journey and how her mother has been a role model for her. “Ups and downs are inevitable, and a supportive family environment fosters confidence and perseverance”, she said. By setting positive examples for children, we can break generational patterns and empower future generations.
Financial Management: The Key to Financial Independence
Knowing how to manage money is vital for financial independence. Budgeting is crucial, but women often lack involvement in investment decisions. Taking control of finances fosters confidence and opens doors to wealth creation.
Budget 2024: Promising for Women Entrepreneurs
“The current budget on women's entrepreneurship is promising. However, there is a stereotype among women entrepreneurs to let someone else handle their finances. I advise them to actively manage their finances and accounting. Delegating financial responsibility hinders true independence and understanding of financial health.”
There's no one-size-fits-all answer to achieving financial independence. She emphasises starting whenever you're ready to become economically independent so that you don’t have to be dependent.
Advice for Young Women: Time and Confidence Are Your Assets
In her advice to 20-year-olds, she says “Be confident in your financial abilities. Time is one of your greatest assets, allowing you to set long-term goals and reach them. Prioritize saving a significant portion of your income and explore investments like equities to beat inflation. Remember, risk-taking is essential for growth.”
Her concluding message is simple yet powerful: “Be involved in your finances. Regardless of your background or circumstances, take control of your financial journey. By actively participating, making informed decisions, and seeking support, women can achieve true financial wellness and live on their terms.”