Your right to ask questions

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.

January 20, 2021

Later this month we will celebrate India’s 72nd Republic Day which signifies the anniversary of the day on which our Constitution became effective. The Constitution among other things defines the rights and duties of citizens of a country. Right to education, right to personal freedom, right to religious freedom, freedom of press, these are just few of the essential rights that citizens of India have, which the Indian Constitution grants us.

Rights are important for individuals to feel free and also to feel like you belong. This is the reason that along with your constitutional rights, you must also understand and acknowledge your personal financial rights.

The financial decisions which affect your future should be open for inspection by a round of relevant questions on your part. This will help you understand the utility of the decisions and also have a fair expectation around the potential outcomes.

With this knowledge you can then plan your future and your family’s future to your advantage. If you are unsure where to begin with the questions and who to direct them at, here is a quick guide.

Personal finance questions that you must ask

Personal finance is not about how much you earn versus how much you spend; it goes a lot deeper and wider than that. We all have a finite number of years when we can participate in active work or maybe there is a desire to work only for a defined number of years.

As medical science and health awareness progresses, the life expectancy or average age to which you may live has only gone up over the years.

What this means is that your finite working and earning years need to compensate well for all the years you are not going to get a regular income. This phenomenon affects not just the person in the family who earns money, but also all those other people who are likely to be dependent on this person(s) for their own lifestyle too.

The stay-at-home spouse, the elderly parents, the adult, jobless offspring and so on.

Whether your role in the house is of breadwinner, sharer or care taker, you must understand the logic behind all the financial decisions that impact your family.

  1. You have the right to ask your spouse their monthly income and it is your duty to share yours’ with them.

  2. You have the right to know where the family savings are getting invested and, in whose name, and what are the loans which family members could be liable for.

  3. If you are not the primary earner in the family, you have a right to ask your spouse whether they have covered potential contingency through adequate life and health insurance.

  4. You have a right to know your share of the family assets and debts.

  5. You have the right to use the family money pool to spend on yourself without asking for permission.

  6. You have a right to know of expenses which are infringing on your family’s lifestyle.

  7. You have the right to question your spouse how they are planning to take care of expenses towards daily lifestyle, post the prime earning years into retirement.

  8. You have the right to ask your financial advisor or agent the risk involved in an investment.

  9. You have the right to ask your financial advisor or agent what they earn from the investment you will make through them.

  10. You have the right to ask your financial advisor or agent what kind of return you can expect and in what time frame. If returns are guaranteed, you must surely ask how that will happen.

If you are an earning member of the family, all these rights are also your duties towards the rest of your family.

It is your duty to share information and make the rest of your family members who depend on your income aware of their rights with respect to decisions that impact their personal lives too.

Rights and duties are the same form depending on where you are standing. Knowing these are crucial to your individual and collective financial well-being. Knowing your rights will also help you act in the most relevant manner towards the benefit of your family. You will be able to take the right decisions and actions. Around three years ago when there was an overnight cancellation of our Indian currency, there were many families who lost lakhs of rupees. One of the reasons for this was that both spouses were not equally informed about the amount of cash in the house. Hoarding cash for emergencies was thought to be wise, but it back fired. Not only did individuals put their financial future on the line, but also the family suffered in such an uncertain time.

Then there are countless stories of errant financial decisions made independently by one spouse only to put the entire family’s future on the line. There are also stories of being missold financial products by unscrupulous agents, of money being lost to financial fraud simply because the right questions weren’t asked in the beginning.

Save yourself and your family from the perils of being unaware and misinformed. Ask the right questions and share the relevant information as a duty to your family.

This is the personal financial constitution you must follow to maintain harmony in your personal financial life for years to come.

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