Moneylife Foundation’s 4th annual Women’s Day event (supported by DSP BlackRock’s Winvestor Initiative) began with a lecture by Ms Sujata Kabraji on the ‘10 Financial Mistakes that Women Make and How to Avoid Them!’. Using her years of experience as a stock broker and financial planner, Ms Kabraji made matters clear to all those in the audience, no matter how financially inept. With her fun slides and honest advice, she managed to make a dull subject very interesting. Here’s what she said.
I’m young and I wanna have fun!
Ms Kabraji started her lecture by advising young women to think about what better use they could use their money instead of splurging on shopping and entertainment. She said, “In my early 30s, I used to go out with my friends about three times a week. It would cost me around Rs2800. I’m not here to tell you what you shouldn’t do, but if someone had told me what I would have earned if I had put aside that money at least some of the weeks, it would have an impact on my life.” Ms Kabraji said that it may be good to note what you’re spending on each week and then cross out the things you really need.
I’m smart, I have life insurance!
A lot of people believe that life insurance is for investment, not protection. However, insurance agents promote investment-oriented insurance policies, as these give them more commissions. Ms Kabraji says, “You only need to remember one type of insurance policy – term insurance. I would also advise you to only buy insurance if you have dependents. I think it’s good to ponder over whether you actually need insurance. A lot of us buy term insurance simply because it gives us tax benefits.”
Health can eat into your wealth
Health insurance is important. Unlike life insurance, all of us need health insurance. This goes for those covered by corporate plans, too. Ms Kabraji says, “A friend of mine, Sheetal, was insured by her company for Rs5 lakh. Her parents were also insured for Rs3 lakh. Then her company went through a rough patch and she was offered voluntary retirement. She took it and start a small business from home. When she then went to take her own medical cover, she was asked to do her medical. She was diagnosed with diabetes. Now, her policy doesn’t cover diabetes-related diseases and is costing her an arm and a leg.” Ms Kabraji, therefore, advised participants to buy health insurance early on.
Honey, tell me where to sign
Too many women sign wherever their husbands ask them to, no matter what the documents. This includes wills, property, cheques, and other important documents. Ms Kabraji said, “A dear friend of mine was left penniless and husbandless after her spouse left for a younger woman, after not bothering to look at what she was signing.”
Dip your toe into the water, girl!
Women are often frightened of investing in anything but gold. Ms Kabraji advised participants to look at inflation-adjusted returns. She said, “Gold gives poor returns after inflation. Comparatively, equity delivers much better returns and is a way to beat inflation.” Ms Kabraji said that volatility is unavoidable if you want to grow your money.
Tax slab? I prefer chocolate slabs!
Ms Kabraji said that just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you’re not making a mistake. She says, “A client of mine, when she was under 30, had saved over a crore. She had a high-paying job. She would also save her money. But she would only put in fixed deposits. Last year, she was earning 10% a year. But this would’ve made the tax department very happy. On Rs1 crore, she would have been paying Rs3 lakh to the tax department. When she came to me for help, I just moved her money to a product with a lower tax liability.”
Make sure you have the money to party on!
A lot of women think first about their husband and children, but forget that statistically they’re more likely to live longer than their husbands. She says, “You need to remember that you may live until well after everyone else is gone. A friend of mine spent all her money on her kids, without thinking about herself. When she quit her job, she had just Rs35 lakh, which she got as lump-sum on retirement. Surely, this won’t be enough for the next 30 years. Had she been smart about her money early on, she may not have been in the situation she is currently in.”
Both men and women have the tendency to avoid what requires even a little bit of paperwork. When paperwork is avoided, a lot of problems can crop up. Ms Kabraji says, “If we don’t do the paperwork, we’re bound to find ourselves in bad situations. There are bad and good stories related to avoiding paperwork. Let me tell you a happy one. A friend of mine had three cupboards full of papers that belonged to her parents. She didn’t go through them. When she did, though, she found that there were Tata shares worth crores just lying in the cupboard.”
Will? What’s that?
It’s easy to disregard what is yet to come. So we constantly postpone making a will. But this is far from the right decision. Ms Kabraji says, “My parents did a wise thing by telling their two daughters and a son how the family wealth would be split while they were alive. We were told to raise our objections while they were alive, not after. Making a will may not be prevent problems later on, but it does at least put your foot in the door.” Sujata Kabraji then went on to explain which relatives the Indian Succession laws let come after your money.
Numbers make me cross-eyed
It’s easy to be confused by numbers, but there’s no point running away from these calculations. Ms Kabraji said, “I am a statistics major, but I can’t do any mental math. I need a calculator. The solution is not avoiding the complications of a financial product. All you need to do is ask the right questions.”