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Rediff.com  » Getahead » What Married Women Must Know About Money

What Married Women Must Know About Money

By SHEETAL JHAVERI
Last updated on: March 11, 2024 12:20 IST
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Make financial planning a part of your education and definitely a part of your marriage, says financial planner Sheetal Jhaveri.

  • Have money-related questions? Ask rediffGURUS HERE.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

It could be a love marriage or an arranged marriage but women don't somehow feel the need or think they have the freedom to talk about finance management before entering into the relationship.

The usual thought process is that the ‘man’ of the family will take care of it. This is how society has been functioning and, unfortunately, continues to function in most families even to this day. 

However, this scenario is beginning to change and women have come a long way as far as their right to equality and independence is concerned.

Today, women succeed in every field and profession and, in many cases, take care of their families.

However, one thing that is still very common, especially in Indian households, is that the male partner more often than not has greater control over money. You may have personally experienced it firsthand or heard from someone you know that finances are predominantly handled by men post-marriage and women often don't involve themselves.

But, with changing times, this needs to change as well.

It's very important for every individual, especially women, to have control over and plan their finances. It helps them live a more satisfactory life and protect themselves from unnecessary financial instability. 

 

Here are a few tips that will help women safeguard their finances:

  • Have money-related questions? Ask rediffGURUS HERE.

1. Double Up On Bank Accounts

How many bank accounts do you exactly need? 

According to Niyati Shah, 38, an Ahmedabad-based dog behaviourist, "It's best to have two bank accounts: one for your personal use and another jointly managed for shared expenses. This way, you maintain autonomy while also managing the household's finances together."

Having separate bank accounts allows each partner to maintain financial independence and freedom. It's essential for personal expenses, hobbies, surprise gifts or anything else that you might have on your to-do list. A joint account for expenses like rent, groceries and utility bills also ensures transparency and shared responsibility.

For example, if one partner enjoys collecting vintage vinyl records while the other prefers to splurge on designer handbags, having individual accounts allows them to pursue their interests without financial friction. 

2. Invest And Learn Together

This one is fairly uncommon but equally important.

"When we think of investment, we often already have the types of investments that we want to make and also, at times, tend deviate from them unnecessarily. But when one is married, investments are also about learning and growing together.

"Take the opportunity to educate yourselves about investment options and financial strategies. Share your knowledge with your partner and you'll notice that you can make more informed and joint decisions," avers Anuradha Makhija, 35, a Mumbai-based fashion designer and stock market investor.

Exploring investment opportunities together can also strengthen your relationship and financial future. Whether learning about stocks, bonds, real estate or retirement accounts, investing offers the potential for long-term growth and economic security.

Another advantage is that, God forbid, if something happens to your partner, the other half is not entirely clueless (which is often the case among many married Indian couples). 

3. Know Your Legal Rights

Protecting yourself and your finances legally is imperative. Sanvi Rao, an Indore-based solicitor, says, "Familiarise yourselves with your legal rights regarding property ownership, inheritance and financial assets. Understanding your rights ensures you can protect your interests and make decisions that align with your goals."

In most jurisdictions, there are laws that govern the distribution of property and assets in case of unfortunate events like divorce or death. Knowing your legal rights enables you to make informed decisions about joint and individual assets such as real estate, investments and retirement accounts. For example, assets acquired during marriage are considered joint property and can be divided equally in divorce proceedings.

Understanding these laws can help couples make strategic decisions about asset ownership and financial planning.

4. Keep The Communication Flowing

You might have heard this many times but this point deserves to be underlined -- you must remember the importance and impact of good communication.

Aanya Jhaveri, a 40-year-old homemaker, says, "Discuss your financial choices openly and regularly. This helps avoid misunderstandings and aids you in working towards common financial goals by keeping each other informed. It's also a great way for partners to understand each other's financial priorities, concerns and aspirations."

Discussing income, expenses and financial goals allows couples to make joint decisions aligning with their values and long-term objectives.

5. Prepare Your Will

While it may seem like it's not necessary, preparing a will is extremely crucial for securing your family's future.

A will provides clarity and direction regarding the distribution of assets, guardianship of children and other important matters after your death. It allows you to express your wishes and protect your family members from potential disputes or legal challenges.

"Although one might not be the financial provider of the house or have many assets in his/her name, it is vital -- especially once you have kids -- that you have a will in place. Whatever your asset is, you would like to pass it on to your children or your loved ones," asserts Radhika Jain, 54, a Pune-based chef.

6. Be Ready For Emergencies

This one goes without saying: Life is unpredictable and emergencies can arise when least expected; it is crucial that you keep yourself financially prepared, especially if you are a homemaker. An emergency can strike anytime and if you have your emergency plan in place, that's one less thing to worry about. 

For example, setting aside a minimum of six months’ worth of your essential expenses in a separate savings account can provide financial security and resilience in times of crisis. This fund can cover necessary expenses such as housing, utilities, groceries and medical bills without the need to look for help from anyone else.

Sheetal Jhaveri, MBA (finance) and a certified financial planner, is the founder of Dhanplanner, an investment advisory firm.

  • Have money-related questions? Ask rediffGURUS HERE.

 

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