When it comes to money it helps to start early! My financial journey started when I opened my first savings bank account at the age of 18. I was studying to be a Chartered Accountant and the firm I was working for used to deposit my monthly stipend in this bank account. Till this time in my life, money was just something I asked my parents for. Suddenly it took another meaning; it gave me a sense of independence and responsibility. I could choose what to do with this money. Luckily I chose to invest and this was all due to having friends from a business background. Talking about money, share market was in their blood stream.
As a result of these influences I graduated quickly from fixed deposits to mutual funds and direct equity investment. This does not mean that I did not make mistakes. I made a lot of them. I invested in equity shares just because someone recommended and lost the small capital that I had in the market. But the good thing was that I made these mistakes early in my life, paving the way for taking better financial decisions in the future.
So by the time I started with my first real job in my late 20s; I had become and am still a firm believer of goal based investing. These early learnings resulted in instilling the practice of appropriate asset allocation in alignment with my goals. I learnt the value of having an emergency fund, adequate life and medical cover and relying on debt only if it helped create an asset. I also learnt the value of seeking help from professional financial advisors who partner on your financial journey ensuring that you grow and protect your wealth.
My personal experience has convinced me that we need to start handling money earlier in life. Ideally financial education, which introduces basic financial concepts like budgeting, debt, equity, power of compounding, risk versus return should be part of the high school curriculum. Parents can also inculcate and help develop money management skills in their teenagers. They can be taught that pocket money can either be splurged for instant gratification or can be saved for that X-Box that they have been asking for. This will not only help them understand the value of money but will sow the first seeds of financial management.
I also believe that girls need to be encouraged to manage money even more than the boys. Boys are expected to manage money when they grow up but not girls. As a result, many girls when they grow up still rely on their fathers or husbands for taking financial decisions for them. This is also due to the fact that they have seen their mothers delegating these decisions to their fathers. This can change only if little girls are taught at an early age that money is a means to fulfill needs and desires. They are taught that everyone, whether a man or a woman needs to know how to make money work towards the fulfillment of those goals.
Many little girls now learn how to earn money but they should also now learn how to invest those earnings. They should learn that their say in these matters is important and actually helps take balanced decisions. This will ensure that when these little girls grow up, they will have the confidence to voice their opinions and participate in managing the household finances.
So this Women’s day I hope that – “we help our boys learn to respect a woman’s opinion on financial matters and girls the ability to voice those opinions”.
Ashwini Kaundinya Benegal is a Chartered Accountant by profession and works with an MNC. She is a mother, a prudent investor and progressive thinker. We are glad to be associated with her.