Financial Planning for Women

Sylvia Walker

Life is one amazing experience. Clichéd as it may sound, we are all taken on a journey that is beyond our wildest imaginations, peppered with twists and turns and many highs and lows.
As a woman, this road can be particularly challenging at times, depending on the decisions we make along the way. Some decisions have major impacts on where we are headed, such as those around marriage, our careers, or starting a family. Making decisions around our finances may not seem as life altering or important at the time, but the impacts are often felt years later. Creating a solid financial foundation gives you freedom and choice, no matter where life takes you.
Previous generations of women fought hard for equality and one could argue that we are equal in all aspects, including our financial planning. True, but yet there are some realties which impact on women particularly, and can directly impact on our pockets. Forewarned is forearmed.

What are some of these realities?

1. Many women are caught up in abusive situations due to a lack of financial independence. They cannot imagine sacrificing their ‘lifestyle’. From day one of your marriage, you should have your own saving and financial plan. Take care of yourself first – it’s that simple.
2. Divorce is rife in South Africa, and apart from the emotional trauma, many women find themselves financially vulnerable. Also, in many households, women spend their money on household expenses such as children’s education and groceries, whereas their husband spend their money on policies, the home loan, cars, investments, etc. When that marriage ends, and the assets are divided, the woman has very little to show for all the money she poured in over the years. If she has custody of the minor children, she will have to face financial issues such as ensuring that her child support will continue, no matter what happens to her ex husband. Make sure that you consult your financial adviser as well as an attorney if you are going through a divorce.
3. Debt can be crippling, and women are often criticised for being shop-a-holics and having numerous store cards. Reality is that most women do the clothes and other shopping for the family, and end up with credit and debt in her name. Be responsible in the debt you incur, as all you are actually doing is robbing yourself of money that you could have spent tomorrow.
4. Many women may find themselves sole breadwinners when their partners are retrenched or go on early retirement. Money ma be tight, and it’s easiest to surrender policies. This is not always wise. Look for alternative ways to cope in these tight financial situations.
5. Women outlive men by 5 years on average, and for many women, a lack of money in old age is their greatest fear. So as a woman, you should be saving more for retirement than your partner / husband, as you will outlive him.
6. Lifestyle related illnesses such as cancer, strokes and heart attacks are now being experienced by women, almost as frequently as by men. Either way, the financial impacts can be devastating and both men and women need to have severe illness or trauma cover. Thanks to medical advances you have a great chance of surviving, but financially, you might not be so lucky.
It’s quite a simple thing if you think about it. It’s about making the right choices for yourself. Don’t be a sitting duck, and expect someone to rescue you – get professional advice, and make decisions that will keep you secure, no matter what happens on this magical journey called life.

Source: Moonstone: 2015/07/09 Moonstone Monitor - Sylvia Walker