Not just independent, be financially confident too

Written by Lisa Pallavi Barbora

Lisa Pallavi Barbora is a Senior Consultant for Content at WFAN. Lisa is also a founder of In her earlier avatar, she was a National Writer and Consultant for HT Mint - a premier business journal in India.

October 9, 2020

If you look around, you may think that there are more women out there in the workforce, but the latest statistics from the Labour force participation rate shows that in India, over the last 15 years despite an increase in GDP and a growing economy, the participation of women in the workforce has slipped from 32.2% to 23.4%.

One may analyse this further to understand the nuances, there are studies which highlight the declining contribution of women in the agricultural and rural workforce, however, some of the blame might lie with us urban women too.

Our daughters are educated and capable of being financially independent but when it comes to managing their own earnings and money, things start to get foggy.

What I mean is that women even today are heavily reliant on their male family members for making or reaffirming money decisions.

In the bargain, a lot of the benefits of being an earning member of the family, the independence, the confidence and the sheer ability to see their money work hard for them get transferred out of their own hands to someone else. At some point in life, this transference is enough for women to hang up their proverbial working boots.

It’s a great idea for every individual to start earning for themselves, being financially independent along with taking care of their family.

Many women start out feeling this way but when ultimate money decisions aren’t their own then can we blame them for not continuing in the workforce?

Make your own money decisions

If you can choose your own academic preference, the job you want to do, the car you want to buy then why not decide what you want to do with your money too? Every woman whether she is working at home or in office will come to a point in life when her source of income is no longer getting replenished at a regular frequency. It’s called retirement. Even if you stay at home, your spouse’s income will stop being regular after a certain age and you will get affected by that too.

If not for any other reason, retirement planning by itself is reason enough for you to start making your own money decisions. You are the only person who knows for sure the kind of lifestyle you would like to have post-retirement. The earlier you plan for this inevitable period in your life, the better it is.

The first mistake most women make is to overestimate savings and underestimate the power of planned investments.

Putting aside or saving some of what you are earning, is not enough for your retirement. Saving part of your salary is step one. However, it is investing right which will get you to your retirement goal.

The second mistake is using only your salary for making household expenses. Ensure that both you and your spouse contribute to the home expenses equally; this includes the daily grocery bill, the electricity, children’s school fees and so on.

Splitting costs will help you save and invest a part of your money too. God forbid if something tragic or uncertain happens in future where your spouse’s income is no longer available then you don’t want to be in a situation where you have spent all your income on running the home with no savings in your name.

Lastly, don’t make the mistake of relying only on your male relatives for investment advice, seek out a professional.

There are several investment advisors and financial planners who can help you chart the right course with appropriate investments to enable achieving your financial goals. Use their help. Your relatives may be well-meaning, but they may not be qualified in helping you reach your retirement goal with your hard-earned money working even harder for you.

Be independent and wise

Being financially independent is as much about earning your salary as it is about making those crucial money decisions yourself.

Doing it yourself doesn’t mean you have to decide where to invest or how to build a retirement portfolio, rather it is about deciding how to go about doing it.

Choosing the right advisor for this is also an important decision which you should make for your money. Being financially independent doesn’t stop at finding a good job, it’s about taking charge of your money.

Women are great multitaskers with truckloads of emotional strength to manage life’s ups and downs.

However, when it comes to managing money, surveys show that women are a lot more conservative than men and that’s where perhaps, the problem lies.

To arrive at the most suitable outcome you have to take on calculated risks and you have to be willing to embrace all that is yours with the responsibility that comes along with it.

Earn for yourself and from the start, learn to make your own money decisions.

You will make mistakes but there is a chance you will be a lot more confident about your money journey, making it easier for you to continue in the workforce for a lot longer.

We don’t just need financial independence; we need large doses of financial confidence.

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