Safety net yourself for the She-conomy?
I wrote this weeks column for The National, with the mindset to not just educate ourselves about money but to also put the steps into action and actually do it.
Herewith are the first steps for forward thinking women of the she-conomy.
Janelle: In the driving seat, but do keep an eye on the road ahead
The National, Janelle Malone, Jun 29, 2013
Right now, it’s a wonderful time to be a woman, especially earning a tax-free income in the UAE. With the right financial knowledge, we can look great, feel fabulous, and have money in our bank accounts too.
This attitude will allow us to retire comfortably and in style. However, all of this comes with one condition. Start shaping your financial goals as early as possible and you can rest assured that you are taking the right steps to define and reach those goals with ease.
We are now living in the decade known as the She-conomy. What this means is that as women, we are fast becoming the earners, spenders and the drivers of the economy. In the next financial decade, it’s projected that over one billion women will enter the workforce. For most of us, this equates to working full-time while remaining the primary caregivers at home! Family responsibilities will inevitably shape our attitudes towards money.
But with this new financial prowess also comes responsibility. Why? Well, everyone will be targeting us for a piece of our money pie. Brands and marketers are already dedicating entire advertising campaigns toward the female demographic – especially women between the ages of 18 and 35. But while the charm and compliments may be flattering, it can be hazardous to our bottom line. The onus is on us to be street-smart and level-headed, and handle our purse strings with caution.
Are we ready?
The question we must ask ourselves truthfully is: are we ready? At every turn, we have brands telling us that we need this and we need that. What we really need is to get in touch with ourselves, our own personal goals, and then live our lives accordingly. These terms do not include keeping up with the Jones’, but rather living according to our own inner life plan. Without this mindset, it’s very easy to get caught up in the ‘I want what she’s got’ cycle. Before you know it, you could easily lose focus of what’s important to you and find yourself spiraling into debt.
Habits create more habits
What are your spending habits? What do you love to do? What is important to you now, and in the future? And what can you go without? Take the time to answer these questions for yourself – many brands will try their hardest to dictate to YOU what they think you want and need. It’s extremely important to know the difference, to better control your spending and nip any bad habits in the bud, before they become a lifelong trend.
The best way for women to become smart consumers is to learn and educate ourselves. This begins by understanding your income and expenses, as well as the importance of saving. Then, identify what YOU value and spend accordingly and within your budget.
Every woman should be aware of how much she needs to save for her retirement. Women today are living up to six to nine years longer than their male counterparts – gone are the days of simply relying on your partner’s financial plan. In fact, should your spouse pass away without the necessary documents in order, you could find yourself faced with a chunky inheritance-tax bill. Unfortunately many women in this situation don’t have the funds to pay this bill and, until this amount is paid, won’t receive a cent of their own money or inheritance.
So the question on every woman’s lips right now is: how much should I be saving? In short, you should be saving 20%-30% of your wage each month. Aim to invest this money at a growth rate of around 10%. I believe women should look for funds that offer a diversified investment portfolio. Essentially this means not putting all of your eggs in one basket. But this really is just the beginning – women should do their own research, and always play an active role in their own financial plan.
There is a myriad of investment options out there. Don’t simply take the first option offered to you by your bank. It’s more than possible to get a portfolio designed specifically tailored to your needs. Also, know your terms and conditions. There will always be a ‘standard terms’ element to any investment plan that you take on. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure that you fully understand what you are agreeing to.
What else do I need as a safety net?
Situations arise in all of our lives when we’re either out of work or need cash quickly. For these unexpected events, you should aim to create a three-month salary safety net. In addition, the basis of a sound financial plan should always include insurance such as health, critical illness and life insurance.
By adopting these principals, women can empower themselves in their financial security and rest assured; they’ll definitely be able to sleep at night and know that they are protected.