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Rediff.com  » Getahead » Financial Freedom: One Woman's Inspiring Comeback

Financial Freedom: One Woman's Inspiring Comeback

By VATSAL RAMAIYA
March 06, 2024 09:42 IST
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Inspired from a real life incident, this is the story of how Aarti buckled herself up after her divorce and rebuilt her financial life. Vatsal Ramaiya chronicles her story.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
 

Aarti's world came crashing down the day she found the crumpled note from her husband. It wasn't a drawn-out argument or a dramatic confrontation, just the cold confirmation of what her heart had already begun to fear. Years as a dedicated homemaker, prioritising his career over her own aspirations, had left her with minimal savings and a sense of lost purpose.

But amidst the tears and the panic, a spark of defiance ignited within her. Aarti refused to become another statistic, a woman left behind to struggle in a society that rarely looked kindly upon divorce. She needed a plan, a way to build financial freedom from the ruins of her shattered life.

Step 1: Facing Brute Reality

With reddened eyes and shaking hands, Aarti listed her limited assets, her outstanding debts, and carefully estimated her bare minimum living expenses. The numbers stared back grimly, highlighting the stark gap between what she had and what she needed.

Step 2: Survival Mode Activated

Aarti couldn't afford the luxury of wallowing in self-pity. She combed through job listings, reached out to old friends from her college days, desperate for any leads. Finally, she landed a part-time position at a local bookstore. It wasn't glamorous, but it covered the rent.

Modest meals replaced elaborate ones, subscriptions were cancelled, and she found creative ways to sell unused sarees and jewellery online.

Step 3: Seeking Knowledge as Power

Every evening, while the cramped apartment echoed with loneliness, Aarti fought back. She discovered personal finance blogs and podcasts tailored to Indian women. Terms like 'mutual funds', 'recurring deposits' and 'SIPs' began to make sense, offering a glimmer of hope.

Step 4: Baby Steps into Investing

Aarti couldn't save much, but with every paycheck, she diligently moved a small amount into a recurring deposit account with her bank. The interest rates weren't exciting, but it was hers, growing slowly but steadily.

Step 5: The Skills Investment

Aarti recognised that she needed a better job, higher income. She found government-supported digital literacy courses, squeezing in classes after work. It was frustrating, but she persevered until she landed a junior-level administrative role with a promising startup. Her income finally showed substantial growth.

Step 6: Taking Calculated Risks

Now, with a bit more breathing room, Aarti carefully looked into investing in stocks. She focused on well-established companies she understood, those with products she used or admired. Initial gains brought a thrill, while occasional dips taught her to hold steady through market fluctuations.

Step 7: Building Her Safety Net

Aarti had always lived hand-to-mouth, but now, an emergency fund became non-negotiable. Slowly, steadily, she built a reserve equivalent to six months of living expenses. It gave her a sense of security she'd never known -- no longer solely dependent on anyone else.

Years later...

Aarti's flat wasn't just a home, it was her heaven. She'd bought it after careful consideration, financing a significant portion from her savings. Her investment portfolio wasn't huge, but it was healthy and diversified, promising a comfortable future.

Gone was the scared woman abandoned by her husband. Aarti travelled for pleasure, donated to causes close to her heart, and mentored other women facing similar financial challenges.

Her success wasn't about a fancy lifestyle or social media bragging. It was about the power to choose her own life, to know that she'd built her own security with each hard-earned rupee. Aarti was more than financially independent; she was a woman who embodied resilience.

Long Live Nari Shakti!

Vatsal Ramaiya is a personal finance expert with 16 years of experience with India's top mutual fund houses. He blogs at mfnow.in.

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