In continuing the tradition of educating women about their financial needs and the ways to go about fulfilling them, Moneylife Foundation conducted twin sessions titled “What All Women Need to Know about Money!” This workshop was presented in association with the “Womentoring” programme at the National Human Resources Development Network (NHRD Network).
Sucheta Dalal, Founder-Trustee of Moneylife Foundation and Managing Editor of Moneylife, began the workshop with her session on the aspect of safety, where monetary issues specific to women are concerned.
According to her, it all starts when women leave all financial decisions to their husband/ father, without realising that these decisions can play havoc with their lives. “They are often made co-applicants in loans and beneficiaries in investments and insurance, without their knowledge. They may then outlive their husbands, end up losing out on their own savings as well as the inheritance, only because of a lack of awareness,” she said.
Many women also tend to give up their savings for financial emergencies in the family, which leaves them vulnerable and dependent. In this regard, the condition of working women is no better than homemakers, especially those who opt out of careers due to family responsibilities. Ms Dalal advised how women should start preparing in a manner that sustains them over decades. She enlightened them about insurance, wills and nominations. The audience members jumped in with questions as the session went on, especially many questions on the specifics of Wills.
Ms Dalal suggested that women should use nationalised and large banks, and avoid dealing with co-operative banks. “Be careful while dealing with relationship mangers. You are targets for them, and they will push harmful products because they know that women are soft targets. No matter what committments they make, their targets are to sell you their products.” She also added that, if you knew financial products well, “you could use Relationship Managers to get your work done, but do not trust their investment advice.”
Moneylife magazine had earlier carried a story about how the actress Suchitra Krishnamoorthy was duped of her savings by HSBC. “Its important to read the fine print word by word while buying insurance, since buying insurance is easy, but getting the claim is a completely different story,” Ms Dalal said. She also said that there is a huge difference between investment and insurance and that the two should never be mixed
Picking up real life cases from the bluntly titled book, “Breaking Up”, on how women have been forced into situations where they have to shoulder the financial responsibilities of the family, irrespective of whether they have a commensurate income or not. There have been many cases when, after shifting some major liability onto them, they were literally thrown out on the road. They are unable to claim either their income or the assets that were purchased by using their income. Overall, the topics covered, ranged from investment traps such as chain-money schemes and guaranteed-return schemes, credit traps such as credit cards and loans, wills, nominations, credit scores etc.
During the second session, Debashis Basu, editor and publisher of Moneylife, spelt out various ways in which one can be smart with money—and presented to the audience the best ways in which they can manage their money. Mr Basu emphasised the importance of saving regularly to deal with big expenses such as education for children and more importantly for retirement. He shared examples that illustrated how one could use the power of compounding to their benefit. “The best way to invest smartly is to start as early as possible and save as much as possible”, said Mr Basu.
There are too many choices in financial products, many of them are half-baked products and brand names mean nothing, because cases of horrendous mis-selling are seen even among banks which charge a fat premium for their services.
One of the most important aspect of savings, is the excessive choice in products, where a majority of savers are left confused. Left with confusing choices, majority of the savers opt for bank fixed deposits, which is a safe and easy option. Mr Basu explained to the audience how much they should allocate to fixed income investments and equity mutual funds depending on their age and whether or not they have dependents.
Every saver needs to ask themselves a question—“What do I really need?” A saver actually needs less, not more. With fewer options to evaluate, an investor will be a much happier person; they will spend more time with your loved ones and have more money at their disposal which can be used to invest wisely. Thus, one needs to make an effort to choose a few items, that suit their profile and their needs. This will increase satisfaction over the long term and lead to lesser regrets. “All you need is just two to three equity schemes, a few fixed income products, a term life insurance, a health plan and tax-saving instruments. Tune out the rest and you will do much better,” explained Mr Basu. This takes care of 90% of your financial needs for a safe financial life, if you are not focussed on getting the highest return and chasing value.
Mr. Basu explained which products to avoid and which products to invest in, with an idea of what is the right asset allocation. He went on to debunk myths about risk and how all that glitters is not gold. He ended the session by saying that, “what works in life also works with investments, patience and the long term.”