Mindfulness can help everyone – especially women become better investors and plan for financial security. And to be mindful, women need to understand what motivates them to both spend and save money. While being realistic about one's needs and wants, it is equally important to identify and prioritise financial goals. From not being adequately prepared to over-stressing about minute matters, finances can be a hassle to manage.
This is especially so when you have your children's future and well-being in mind. It's best to start early and develop a thorough plan for every aspect of your family's projected expenditure and needs. Worries about money can cause stress and take a toll on our health. Women should not forfeit their opportunity to manage finances so that they don't regret it in future.
It's never too late to get ahead of the game, especially when it comes to money-related errors which could cost you and your family. There are many ways to be smart with your money when you are able to think outside the box. By tricking yourself in subtle ways, you can work towards achieving your financial goals – it just requires a bit of budgeting, to switch from spending your salary to saving it. It need not be a drag either – if you reward yourself once you reach goals, it becomes an incentive and gets your creative juices flowing. Here's how to kick-start your savings:
First and the foremost you need to question every purchase (obviously this excludes essential commodities) and always ask yourself, "Do I really need it?". Then you need to follow the one-month rule where you write down what you have been eyeing and want to splurge on. By the time your one-month is up, you may find that you no longer need it. You also need to set up an automatic payment to put away your savings on pay day and do not reach for the credit card. Split your money into accounts for different purposes. Maintain a diary or use a spend-tracking app to jot down every time you splash the cash. At month's end, categorise all your spending. A takeaway coffee may feel good at the time, but when you see how much has been spent on coffee in a month, you might change your mind. If you buy something on impulse, make sure you transfer the same amount to your savings account.
Women love to shop and a minute adjustment can go a long way in enhancing your savings. Do a shopping run on pay day for just the basic essentials – no treats allowed.
The convenience of being able to swipe your credit card instead of constantly visiting an ATM or being bogged down by dozens of coins and crumpled notes is pretty obvious. However, paying with cash actually helps to keep the pain of paying at the back of your mind, preventing you from only thinking about the immediate benefits of your purchase.
On the other hand, when you use your card to pay for purchases, you're essentially spending money which you haven't even obtained yet.
This leads to overspending and accumulating unnecessary interest on top of your expenses. Withdraw the remaining money and split the cash into separate envelopes for non-essentials, such as new clothes or accessories. And this one is a no-brainer. You should always set aside an emergency fund which would be sufficient for at least six months of expenditure. In case of dire situations, you'll have enough to tide you over the rough patch you're going through and it will help you adjust to a major expenditure alteration. If you're unsure of how to go about starting up an emergency fund, it's best to portion out a lump sum monthly from your income and work towards a desired goal.
The most productive method of saving is setting up a compulsory saving programme to save a fixed amount of income every month. Such a programme reduces the maximum limit of one's spending power right from the start, so one's lifestyle is controlled early on.
If saving money is wrong, I don't want you to be right and It's always good to think about the long-run, no matter how far down the road it seems. You only have about 18 years to save for your children's tertiary education so it's best to start planning and saving ahead of time. Exactly how much you need to set aside for both your children's tertiary education as well as you and your spouse's retirement plans would depend on the type of education that you desire for your children, as well as the lifestyle you want to lead after retirement. Insurance coverage is also another important factor to consider. If something tragic were to happen to you and you don't have an insurance plan in place, your family would be left to settle all of your debts (if any) and other personal expenses, which could leave them struggling with a mountain of bills. Life insurance is the ultimate safety net for your family and dedicating enough funds to purchase a pure coverage/risk plan is all about proper budgeting and planning. Children should be looped in on money matters as early as possible and especially once they start having their own pocket money to spend. If the right habits are cultivated from a young age and parents provide a good example to follow, you won't have to worry about your child making any of these mistakes in the future.
It is paramount you keep your finances healthy. This will help you create a savings buffer so you can spend without being plagued with worry and guilt. You need to be able to exert full control over how your dependents are spending and as such differentiate between necessities and luxuries. This must be done while adjusting the spending accordingly and having the discipline to save, despite the pressure to spend to keep the dependents satisfied. It's always impossible until it's done and by doing so, you won't have to live from Pay-day to Pay-day.
( Ifthikar Bashir is a freelance Financial Advisor. He can be reached at "email@example.com")