As a kid, I was fascinated by the investment activities of my mother and aunts. They always seemed to have a little nest-egg stashed away even though they did not have high-paying jobs. I remember walking with my mother to the bank nearby and watching while she operated her locker and renewed her fixed deposits. It seemed so sophisticated, even though it was just my Mom. My aunt was even more financially savvy. No boring old fixed deposits for her. She invested in dividend-rich, blue-chip stocks that appreciated a lot during the course of her married life. At a very early age I understood the importance of being financially independent.
It wasn’t very surprising then that when I married, I craved financial independence. I always considered my 25-year-old house as my first born because it has more breakdowns than both my children put together.
It is really important to be financially independent
I was determined to make my own money but the thought of kids, a full-time job and an independent house that needed a lot of maintenance was very overwhelming.
I always considered my 25-year-old house as my first born because it has more breakdowns than both my children put together.
Even my husband concurred that both of us working wasn’t the best option for us, because he was running his own software company and his hours were erratic. So I began by taking on some freelance jobs, but these were depressingly low-paying 15 years ago. But I always believed couples should keep their financial independence.
Around this time I began to watch a show on CNBC called The Suze Orman Show on personal finance. She advised people on how to get out of debt. I figured the same principles that could be used by people to get out of debt can be used to generate an income too. The basic requirement for both was discipline.
Related reading: Achieving financial harmony as a couple
Discipline is what you need to skip leisurely lunches with friends and visits to the beauty parlour. It is what allows you to resist a gorgeous pair of sandals when you’re dying to buy them. Savings like this can add up to a cool 5000 in a month, which converts to 60000 in a year. Even a lowly fixed deposit with an 7% interest rate will get you a tidy sum at the end of one year. I accumulated a few fixed deposits by saving a little money here and there and it all added up.
Ready for anything
In 2008, when the stock markets crashed, I was ready to take the next step. I invested my savings into equities on a lark. The prices of all the stocks were so low that I didn’t think I could go wrong and my husband strongly encouraged me to get into stocks. The markets skyrocketed after the summer of 2009 and I made a nice profit, which, by the way, was completely tax free. I was hooked. It was the first time in my life that I felt truly financially independent and knew what it meant to be responsible about money. I guess here’s how women can become financially independent after marraige, they just need to plan whatever they are doing.
I began to read company reports, watch business channels and read financial reports with manic devotion and my husband was pleasantly surprised by my new interest.
Many women unfortunately think that financial independence is just about having a job, but in reality, investing and accumulating wealth is completely different from just having a job. It’s only when I realised this difference that I understood that the spouse who gets upset because you went on a frivolous shopping spree is not angry because he is cheap, but because you put your financial future as a family at risk.
It was the first time in my life that I felt truly financially independent and knew what it meant to be responsible about money.
Related reading: Salary matters
Money is sexy
Over the years, as my proficiency with finances increased, I realised that what I experienced in 2009 was just beginner’s luck. It is very hard to time the markets and there is no need to do so with so many mutual funds and investment schemes around. I have become more cautious now in my investing approach, while my husband continues to be more adventurous. We have complementary investing styles and we respect each other’s opinion and some of our most interesting conversations center around discussing our finances. I never knew that talking about money could be such a turn on. Having a honest conversation about financial matters is a very adult thing to do and being an adult is always sexy. And this way it is a great guide to financial independence of women.
Independence brings trust
Learning about money has also made me acutely aware that sticking to gender stereotypes is all right, but to truly understand your partner and be equal partners, you do need to step out of your comfort zone and step into your partner’s shoes, at least some of the time.
Being disciplined and having good judgement about money has had a very positive effect on my marriage. There is more trust in the marriage. As my very first investment guru, Suze Orman says, “Opposites may attract, but I wouldn’t put my money on a relationship of financial opposites.”
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