Where Do Indian Women Draw Line On Reckless Spending? Hear It From Them

In a recent interaction, a financially independent woman was asked why she doesn't spend her money on luxury premium brands. Her response broke many stereotypes.

Rudrani Gupta
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Women, Money, Financial Independence

I was overjoyed when I received my first salary. There were two reasons behind it. First, of course, it was the money that I had earned on my own; second, I earned it by following my passion. I didn't know what exactly should I do with the money. My first thought was buying gifts for my parents. But the minuscule amount earned from a job that my parents were against erased that thought. After keeping the money safe in my account for a long time as a souvenir, I decided to take it out and spend. Do you know what I bought? A small packaged coffee that has always been my medium of stress buster.


A Woman Was Asked Why She Doesn't Spend On Luxury Premium Brands. Her Response Breaks Many Stereotypes

The idea is that even after being on this journey of financial independence, I did not want to forget the minimalistic lifestyle and choices that made me happy. It has been years now and my bank balance has improved. However, my strategy of spending my money has changed. As it is often said that money can buy happiness, I too try to use my money to buy a few moments of peace, if not happiness. I spend money on stress-eating, pampering myself through salon treatments or, "the most scandalous," buying cigarettes. But these expenditures are episodic. It happens when I am going through a depressive phase. Otherwise, the money is still a souvenir. 

However, recently, I came across a reel which made me rethink my beliefs about expenditure. In the reel, a financially independent woman was asked why she doesn't spend her money on luxury premium brands. Her response broke many stereotypes. She said, "How much is Louis Vuitton or Gucci gonna pay you every month? I like to buy things that pay you every month. Like real estate, stocks that pay me dividends. The stuff that you buy is only to show off the things that you don't have." She concludes by saying, "So no, I don't buy stuff to buy liabilities. I buy things that will pay me money." 

The internet is in awe of the woman's smart spending strategy. One user wrote, "I couldn't agree more with her. An expensive luxury bag won't put money in your pocket. But investing in real estate will if done right." Another user talked about how he and his wife invested money in renting properties from landlords. Then they furnish them and list them on Airbnb. This gets them enough income to not only compensate but also make a profit from the expenditure.

The stereotypes that working women face when it comes to finances

Coming back to Indian women, financial independence is still a luxury to them. Many women don't earn. And those who do are not always in charge of their expenditure strategy. Society has created a myth that women cannot handle money. The myth is so pervasive that many women underestimate themselves and stay away from money matters. They give their male counterparts complete control of their finances. The male counterparts, on the other hand, are either really helpful or toxic as they bar women from spending money.  


But this is a generalisation. We cannot come to a point by generalising situations. Just like every movie ends no matter how painful it is, social trends too change, if not end. Why am I saying this? Because I interacted with Indian women who are financially independent and each one of them proved the social construct wrong. Women can not only earn money but also spend it strategically on their own. Let's hear it from women themselves.

Being a part of the Indian society, every woman faces stereotypes. When it comes to expenditure, women are always made fun of and underestimated. So I asked Bhawana Bisht, a writer and editor, about the stereotypes she came across. "The biggest stereotype is that women love spending money ONLY on shopping," she said. Tanya Savkoor, a journalist by profession, also made a similar point but added another stereotype to it. She said, "I have typically heard that women either only spend money on unnecessary clothes/accessories for themselves or selflessly on their family. No in-between. Apparently, women cannot find a balance between self-centeredness and selflessness."

Charvi Kathuria, LinkedIn Growth Specialist, says women are seen as reckless spenders. She said, "Various stereotypes circulate, with one prevalent notion suggesting that women tend to be spendthrifts, seemingly disconnected from the effort it takes to earn money which is not true at all."

Mansi Singhal, a senior auditor, said that impulsive buying is one of the stereotypes that women come across. Kirti Mittal, a corporate lawyer, said, "Women are not considered as breadwinners. It is assumed that they don't save money and spend it on anything "stupid". In short, women are not wise spenders." She also talked about the misconception that women do not understand the stock market and hence cannot invest in it. 

Busting the myths! Women talk about their strategy for expenditure

Not only Kirti, but all the women I interacted with busted these myths. 


Sreelekha Menon, an HR professional, made a statement that overturned all the myths around women and money and called them fake. She said, "Traditionally we have seen that women were the most judicious spenders who used to manage tight monthly home budgets. But I have seen a recent shift in trend when men and women alike spend to match others, in the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)."

Talking about her spending strategy, Bhawana said, "I am of the opinion that balance is important. We can spend our own-earned money however we like but we need to know what gives us value too. I can spend money on luxury because I enjoy it but I cannot keep spending money only on items which have depreciating value." Mansi too holds on to maintaining a balance between spending and saving. "If I really need to buy something, I do. Otherwise, I save my money."

Tanya also is very mindful when it comes to spending her money. "I buy materialistic things as long as I know I will keep it for a long time or that it's going to be of great use to me," she said. Tanya not only cares about saving money but also the environment when she buys anything. 

Charvi has a very calculative strategy for spending money. She said, "My financial strategy involves allocating 30 per cent of my income to spending, 50 per cent to investments, and 20 per cent to savings. I track all expenditures and savings using a spreadsheet. I prioritize spending on enriching experiences rather than accumulating material possessions." 

Kirti who lives on her own said, "I spend my money firstly on my basic requirements including rent, food et all. Even though I am on a low pay scale, I make sure that I save 20-30 per cent of my money. Then, if required, I spend my money on buying things for myself." 

Sreelekha also calls herself a mindful spender. " I come from a very middle-class family where I was brought up knowing the value of money," she said. 


So it is crystal clear that women have a very healthy relationship with money. They don't recklessly waste their their money. They think about the future and save money so that they are not dependent on anyone. As per a study by financial education company Finsafe India, 37 per cent of women in India are not sure if they have enough money for the emergency. So it is indeed important for women to save their money. 

Women are investing and saving money for a better future

The same study also said that even though 45 per cent of women make independent financial decisions, most of them are unaware of financial knowledge and proper planning. The best way of planning your finances is not only saving the money but also making investments that give returns. As Kirti pointed out earlier, women in our society are considered novices or simply unaware when it comes to stocks. She also said, "When I seek advice on stocks, people assume that I am unaware and I need a man to help me. They wonder why am I even trying to understand?"  However, she defied the stereotype by being an active investor in the stock market. So did many other women I interacted with. 

Mansi invests in stocks and gains a sufficient return. She keeps looking for better options to invest in and hopes to increase her returns. Charvi said, "I have been actively involved in investments since my 27th birthday." Highlighting the importance of investments and returns, Bhawana said, "It’s important for me to consider options that give me better returns and security. Yes, I have now started investing in mutual funds."   

Sreelekha also has a lot of experience in investments. "I used to have diversified investments earlier in my career, currently my strategy would be to spend less and thereby save hard-earned money," she said. 

Women very well know the value of their independence. They have gained it not just through hard work in institutions and companies but also by fighting patriarchy at every step. In a male-dominated society where women are pressured or made to feel guilty for prioritising financial independence over family, the empowerment women earn is at times unstable. And women realise this and so are preparing themselves to face any situation in life. Next time when you talk about stocks and investments, don't be shocked if a woman chips in with an intelligent perspective. 

Is spending money on materialistic things wrong?

Now, let's go back to the reel. The woman rightly says that one should spend their money on things that pay you back. But is this the only right way to spend money? Is it wrong if women spend on materialistic things? I asked this question to women.

Bhawana reiterated that she spends her money on luxury because she enjoys it and added that one is totally free to spend their money in whichever way they want. However, she firmly believes that there should be a balance between spending money and attaining financial security.  

Charvi also doesn't consider spending money on materials as waste. "While I don't consider spending on materialistic items wasteful since they can indeed bring happiness to some people—I personally lean towards investing in experiences rather than material possessions."

Kirti also denied the idea and said that for some people buying something with their own money gives happiness and a sense of independence. "It acts as a therapy for many." She also gave an example about herself and said that she usually doesn't spend on materials but when she does it is only to make herself feel happy and not to show off. 

Mansi believes that if a person wants to live in the present, they would spend on materialistic things. To them, Mansi says, investing in stocks might not seem exciting. But if you want to save then you invest in stocks and gain returns. 

Tanya said that for her it is situational. She said, "If I buy something that makes me happy today because I can afford it, it might seem like a total waste of money if I am broke tomorrow. I try not to make impulse purchases because of this reason."

So it is totally fine to spend on materialistic things if that makes you happy until you are mindful of your financial security. And if investing and saving your money gives you more satisfaction, you can do that too but without any feeling of FOMO or regret for not being able to have things you want. At the end of the day, all that matters is happiness.

Can Money Buy You Happiness? 

Happiness, let's dig into this further. Until now, the entire conversation has been about gaining independence and preserving it. All the women are judiciously spending money and planning their finances. But are they happy? Can money buy happiness? Can fixating on earning as much as possible will guarantee happiness? 

Bhawana said, "I believe money can help us have/seek/buy moments that can give us moments of joy and happiness both. To say that only money can give us happiness would be incorrect, but I have not met a single person who says they are unhappy with getting or earning more money. So, yes, money is definitely one of the sources that can help us be content." 

Charvi confidently agreed that money can buy happiness. However, there is a but. "Without a doubt, money can contribute to happiness by eliminating many life challenges and enhancing overall well-being. However, its ability to make you happy ultimately depends on how it's utilized and the values one holds."

Shreelekha also believes that money can buy happiness. "I feel sometimes - YES. I do indulge in occasional spending sprees and that gives me happiness which I couldn't afford when I was not earning. When you have money you can buy things for your loved ones and seeing them happy makes me immensely happy too. Though more money doesn't mean more happiness less (or no) money would mean mental agony."

Kirti said that money cannot buy happiness but if you don't have money, you will surely be unhappy. "We live in a world where it is difficult to survive without money. If you don't have money, how will you pay the rent? But then, money cannot guarantee happiness. It might reduce the burden." 

Mansi put a full stop to the conversation when she said, "Money cannot buy happiness. It is an instrument for survival." 

Independence is incomplete without financial freedom. You have to pay bills in order to survive in this world. So, it is logical to have better financial planning and focus on increasing income. However, we are humans with needs, desires and emotions. So, dear women, earn as much as you want and spend and invest wisely. But don't forget to be happy for yourself. Defy patriarchy, and live for yourself. 

Views expressed are the author's own.  

women and money women's financial independence