Our OG Desi girl, Priyanka Chopra once said, “My father told me when I was very young, my mom since I was nine-year-old, you will have financial independence before anything you do. Doesn't matter whose daughter you are or who you are married to. It doesn't matter. You'll stand on your own feet. And there’s such a power to that. I put that in my head. I was ambitious since I was 12 years old. I decided every year what I wanted to be, and it changed every year.” We wholeheartedly concur. Most of us have grown up in a society overpowered by patriarchal structures and lop-sided notions about gender roles. As a result, women have scarcely been aware or involved in the financial decisions of the family, accounts and transactions that take place beyond the household.
While the tide has changed over the years, with women becoming increasingly aware of stereotypical notions and battling their way out of them—there is still a long way to go when it comes to the financial independence of women. Whether you’re single and working or a bride-to-be with a successful career ahead of her, there are something every woman must know about her personal finances before she ties the knot. Marriage often comes with a gamut of expectations, silent obligations and more. So, it might be best to keep these expert-approved tips in mind.
Why is it important for women to be financially independent?
Finance creator Shreya Kapoor sums it up perfectly, “Financial independence is important for individuals, regardless of their gender. However, it has specific significance for women due to various societal factors. Financial independence provides a safety net in case of unforeseen circumstances such as divorce, the death of a partner, or job loss. It ensures that women can support themselves and their families independently if necessary. It also gives women more influence in personal and family financial decisions, such as investments, savings, and budgeting. “Financial independence ensures that women contribute equally to joint expenses and decisions. It fosters a sense of equality in relationships,” says finance creator, Chandralekha. “It also liberates her and lets her be in charge of her own life,” adds Anushka Rathod.
Six things every woman must know if marriage is on the cards for her
Shared Financial Goals: According to Chandralekha, “Discuss and align on short-term and long-term financial goals as a couple. These might include buying a house, saving for education, retirement planning, and travel. Having common goals helps in setting a financial direction and making informed choices. Kapoor also says that discussing and understanding each other’s thoughts on family planning is also important. “Raising kids is not only an expensive affair but also a huge responsibility. Starting a family should not be a question discussed post marriage.”
Budgeting and Financial Management: In addition to discussing your financial goals, also have in place a system in place to keep a track of your expenses, savings and investments. “Develop a budgeting plan that outlines how you'll manage income, expenses, and savings together. Decide on how expenses will be divided and how financial decisions will be made,” says Chandralekha.
Familial expectations: Rathod also sheds light on a permanent and must-have discussion about familial expectations about supporting them financially. “It is important to understand if your partner is supporting their aging parents, siblings or other family members financially. Absolutely nothing wrong with this but it is good to have an understanding around these numbers before marriage,” says Kapoor.
Debt and Credit: According to Chandralekha, “Understand each other's debt obligations, such as student loans, credit card debts, and personal loans. Also, be aware of each other's credit scores as they can impact joint financial decisions, like applying for loans or mortgages.” Further, “After marriage, your partner's liabilities are yours too—hence hence it is imperative that you have a complete understanding of their debts,” adds Kapoor.
Legal and Property Matters: “Learn about joint ownership, inheritance laws, and legal arrangements for property. Depending on where you live, the laws regarding marital property can differ, and it's important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities,” says Chandralekha.
Relationship with money: Kapoor says, “Money is more so a psychological subject than just numbers. Variables like your childhood can play such an important role in how you feel about money as an adult. It is a good idea to understand what their relationship is with money—are they spenders or savers, do they plan for the future or live in the moment, what are their guilty pleasures when it comes to spending money—dig as deep as you can.
How does one become more financially aware and involved?
Communicate regularly: According to Rathod, “It can get rather stressful and embarrassing to discuss money. Although don’t delay and have this conversation at the last moment. Have it early on when you are comfortable with your partner and are considering getting married. Also discuss your roles when it comes to managing money. Who will keep a track of it? Who will make the investment decisions? How will you contribute towards common financial goals like buying a house? Are their spending habits and mind-set around money similar to yours? Do you want to combine your finances, or keep separate accounts after marriage?
Counselling Services: Kapoor also recommends professional pre-marital counselling or therapy, which can be extremely beneficial. Licensed therapists or counsellors can help couples explore their expectations, communication styles, conflict resolution strategies, and more.
Financial Advisors: “If you are concerned about financial matters, consider consulting a financial advisor. They can help you set financial goals and create a plan for managing finances as a couple,” says Kapoor.
Online Resources: According to Kapoor, “The internet is a vast source of information on marriage and relationships. You can find articles, videos, and forums where couples share their experiences and advice. Websites like The Gottman Institute, Psychology Today, and Marriage.com offer valuable resources.”
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