Financial planning, money management, and investing have traditionally been male-dominated and male-oriented.

Even with women excelling in all areas of life and becoming increasingly independent, their financial planning still takes a back seat and is handled primarily by the males in the family.

We recently did a study on women and their financial power, which found that overall, 51% of women in the country don’t invest at all or are unaware of their investments.

Yes, the number sounds like an echo. One that we strive to change in the years to come.

Women have differentiated financial needs: differentiated earning potential, career peaks, career breaks, longer life expectancies, and a different approach and mindset when it comes to financial planning.

It is therefore imperative that women take charge of their money through smart planning and investments tailored to their needs. It can seem like a daunting step to take, to quote Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Here are some of the key points that women can follow to take charge of their personal finances:

1. Be aware of your income and expenses:

The first step on the journey to becoming financially capable and independent is to understand your financial habits. This means that it is not only essential to be aware of your income, but also to be aware of your important expenses.

Use an online journal or spreadsheet to write it down and understand your financial behavior. Be sure to write down all the details as they will help you make decisions accordingly.

2. Have SMART financial goals for your future:

Set financial goals early on. Without the presence of an end goal in mind, any activity seems pointless. Whatever your needs and aspirations are, write them down, then work on creating a path to achieve them.

It is very important that these goals are SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Set aside at least 20% of your monthly income to meet these goals. Once you have identified goals with timelines, plan your short-term and long-term investments.

3. Build an emergency fund:

An emergency fund can help you stay afloat in a financial crisis such as the current crisis. This fund should represent at least six months of your expenses and be quickly and easily available when needed.

The money should be cash as you will need it in an emergency. This fund can be created with a savings account or with liquid and arbitrage funds that aim for better returns.

4. Prioritize life and health insurance:

Always make sure that you and your family are protected by adequate insurance. Uncertainties do not knock on the door, they are sudden and rather disruptive, emotionally and financially!

Our study indicates that 58% of women do not have health or life insurance in their name. So cover yourself and your loved ones with health and life insurance to ensure your family’s financial stability!

5. Plan your retirement fund:

Retirement at some point is almost inevitable! Your expenses will continue, but your income will stop, so you will need a good financial cushion to support you during the retirement of your dreams!

We found that only 2% of women invest for their retirement. It’s important that you start early, start small, and start investing in assets that leverage the power of compounding, like equity mutual funds.

6. Never ignore your taxes:

Plan your taxes at the beginning of the year so that you don’t make fruitless decisions at the last minute.

Other than that, you can take advantage of the various tax deductions available and save your taxes. This will help you better plan your financial goals.

7. Stay informed and updated:

Success cannot be achieved overnight, and the same goes for financial freedom. Keeping up with trends and terms can help expand your knowledge and possibilities.

Despite the resources that allow us women to bridge the gap between women and finance, we have observed that 93% of women do not access any website related to financial investment.

Therefore, constantly improving your knowledge will help you feel more confident and adapt to the financial world and where you invest your money.

Conclusion:

Take small steps, make a financial plan with all your financial goals and when you want to achieve them.

Read, learn and interview other women on their financial planning journeys. Start small but start with a SIP (Systematic Investment Plan)! Remember that financial independence is an essential life skill that every woman should be well equipped with to be truly independent.

(The writer is the founder of LXME – India’s first financial platform for women)


(Disclaimer: The recommendations, suggestions, views and opinions given by the experts belong to them. These do not represent the views of Economic Times)