Three family money decisions women must be involved in

Written by Lisa Pallavi Barbora

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

June 16, 2020

Women are often at the forefront when it comes to multitasking or taking on additional responsibility at home. However, it’s baffling to see how quickly women shy away when it comes to being part of the money decisions that affect their family. This happens quite often and almost in every family. While the lady of the house is adept at managing expenses and budgeting for the month, when it comes to planning and making decisions around long term money objectives, curiously they prefer to leave it to either their husband or their father.

Its time, women realise how important their contribution is in making some of the most critical choices about their family’s wellbeing.

Why is it important? Because as the one who manages affairs of all members in the house, the lady of the house is in the best position to understand each person’s future requirements and present status. Moreover, most women are conservative by nature and this can help balance the risk in money decisions.

To get involved in this process of financial decision making for the future, you don’t actually have to know all the financial products and their workings. Rather you have to be a contributor with your perspective on the future financial needs of your family.

To begin with, here are three key areas where your viewpoint will be critical.

1. Family’s health Plan

Health insurance has gained even more importance as we live through possibly the worst pandemic the world has seen. Firstly, let’s understand what health insurance does. Health insurance covers the cost of hospitalisation and in some cases pre hospitalisation and post hospitalisation expenses for individuals in the event of a medical emergency. We all know the escalation that medical and health costs have seen over the last few decades. Spending even a couple of days in the hospital can easily burn a hole in your wallet. Plus, there is post-operative care, medicines and other expenses that can add up. More often than not, a medical emergency creeps up on us unannounced. Instead of being in a position where you have to eat into your savings or borrow to pay your hospital bills, be prepared and have an adequate health insurance policy.

As a primary caregiver for all your family members, you are in a position to understand how much cover and what kind of health plan will be relevant for your family.

There are many different kinds of policies including family floater plans which cover up to four members of a family in one plan itself. You can ask the relevant questions about hospitals, claims and health conditions included and excluded from health insurance policies, before choosing one.

2. Child’s higher education fund

Secondly, involve yourself in planning for your child’s higher education costs. Gone are the days when choices were limited to science or commerce, doctor, engineer or MBA. Today’s young adults know their mind well and have a vision for where they see themselves or the line of work they would like to pursue. At times this is creative, at times it’s highly technical and at times it is about special unexplored skills or simply travelling to find their feet.

As a mother, you might also end up spending a lot more time with your child than any other adult and are in a better position to understand their desires and wants from what lies in the future.

For example, four years before your child is going to complete schooling, your husband may think that a commerce college in the city and then an MBA program is a good enough higher education plan for your child. However, you may know that your child wants to take a year off after schooling and spend time exploring wildlife photography in South Africa or marine conservation in the Maldives. These sound like exotic hobbies, but the point is that, when the time comes, your children may want to push their creative boundaries and as parents, you should be able to help them out.

It doesn’t mean you pay for everything, but a cushion, to begin with, will be a great help for your child. This means being prepared to help them out financially in this journey, to the extent you can. What is this preparation about?

It requires understanding that your child’s higher education costs are no longer going to be straight forward and the more you are able to save towards this goal, the earlier you start in life the better will be the outcome.

3. Retirement Plan

While you might think that this is solely your spouse’s responsibility, it’s really about making a joint effort. Retirement means that there will be no regular, monthly income coming into the family’s pool. If you want to continue living life with minimum changes to your lifestyle, you have to quantify the amount you will need post-retirement.

This requires an in-depth understanding of the family budget and expenses. Who better to contribute to this discussion than the person who manages the household budget?

Estimating what retirement expenses will look like is not an easy task. It’s about having those difficult conversations with your spouse about where you will live and how you will stretch your savings to last you well through the years of retirement. It’s always better that both partners make these choices and decisions together. Two minds are better than one.

While living expenses can well reduce in these years, you have to account for the fact that inflation means certain costs will go up and medical costs most definitely will be more.

Your inputs in such discussions about post-retirement costs of setting up and running a household will be invaluable.

Involving yourself in some of these money discussions at home isn’t always about knowing the technical aspects of finance and investing. Rather it is about applying what you know about the needs and desires of your family to a constructive conversation which will help you put an achievable financial value to your family’s goals and dreams.

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Next time, someone talks about retirement planning or health insurance, perk up your ears and don’t shy away from asking a few or many questions!

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