Being single is usually seen as the doorway to freedom and independent decision-making. However, when it comes to money management, being single can have its own pitfalls, more so if you’re a woman. As per a study conducted by women-centric financial services platform Hermoneytalks.com, 54% of women surveyed were not motivated about managing their finances actively.
This trend is all the more pronounced if the woman is unmarried, divorced, or widowed, albeit for varying reasons. It turns out that single women have unique financial needs or challenges when it comes to money management.
Here are some distinctive financial needs or challenges of single Indian women, and hacks that can be handy.
Financial needs or challenges of any individual depend mainly on two things: their ability to deal with numbers, and the stage of life they are in. Thus, unmarried women may have completely different needs as compared to divorced women or widows, though all of them are single technically.
# Being financially motivated: Unmarried women tend to outsource their money management to a male member of their family. This is more due to force of habit or stereotype pressures than lack of financial skills. Women in such cases need to step out of their comfort zone and start taking informed decisions.
Take financial awareness courses. Read up on analyses available online. Take baby steps in financial decision-making to build confidence. If a woman can become the Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), you certainly can manage your personal finances.
Recent divorcees and widows, on the other hand, need to overcome their personal trauma before they can think of managing their money. The slightest delay in doing so can have catastrophic consequences on your personal finances.
So, talk to a counselor. Get into a peer support group. Keep a personal diary. Do whatever it takes to overcome the post-traumatic stress at the earliest and start actively managing your money.
# Streamlining document management: As admitted by women themselves, in general they are not great at managing financial documents. This can be easily overcome in today’s age of gizmos, gadgets, apps, and automation.
First, digitize all your financial statements, deposit certificates, insurance policies, sale deeds, and the like. Digital copies are easier to store, retrieve, process, and re-use. Next, consider e-locker options, e-Insurance Account, and demat accounts to store your digital documents and assets, but do understand what you’re getting into. Finally, before disposing off any hard copies, shred all documents to erase all traces of your personal information.
# Hassle-free day-to-day money management: The one resource that single women invariably don’t have at their disposal is time. In between single-handedly managing their personal commitments, work life, and taking care of dependents, they usually tend to find little to no time for managing their own money or wealth.
A few smart hacks will do the trick here. For day-to-day tasks, make the one-time effort of identifying reliable vendors who can be your go-to people every time. This reduces cost of unnecessary repair or replacements and saves your time in searching for a vendor every time something breaks down. Automate all your payments. Start using safe and reliable personal finance apps for monitoring where your money is at any given point.
# Irrational fear of equity and debt: Many retail investors, including single women, fear investing in equity. For single women in particular, the problem may also be that of mindset—equity is seen as an “investment” and not “asset”. When you buy gold or jewelry, you don’t think of it as “investment”; it becomes an asset that you own. Think of equity similarly. This will help avoid missing out on good long-term wealth building opportunities through the equity route.
Similarly, loans can be seen as an opportunity to do something, instead of being seen as a liability. So go for that education loan to pursue that dream course, or take that business loan to start that day care center or design boutique you always wanted to. Have a firm repayment plan in place and never borrow more than what you can repay.
(By Hemanth Gorur, Co-founder, Hermoneytalks.com, and Managing Partner, Hubwords Media)