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“The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘cheque enclosed’,” Dorothy Parker, American Poet The stereotyped notion that women don’t take charge of their finances, or that they are not very good at handling money, is not always true. In recent times, there has been a massive increase in the number of working women in various professions, who juggle both work and family with aplomb. Many of them have now also taken the lead role in handling family finances, as the examples of these three women demonstrate. According to Anuj Chhajer, senior fund manager at Reliance Mutual Fund, “Women have not been given the opportunity to handle money and that has led to such misconceptions. They should take charge and plan their finances aggressively.” Many have already begun to do so. They believe they fit the role perfectly and are happy undertaking it. Swathilekha Ghosh from Kolkata currently works as a human resource professional in Mumbai’s textile industry. Ghosh has been managing money since she was a kid. Once she started working eight years back, she became more proactive about saving and investment. Her initial foray into investing was via safe debt instruments. Besides the automatic deduction for Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), she started putting an additional Rs 2,500 in Voluntary Provident Fund (VPF). Next, she invested some money in fixed deposits. Today, she has a more diversified portfolio comprising Public Provident Fund (PPF) and mutual fund schemes. By now she has mustered adequate confidence and plans to foray into direct equities as well. Ghosh says she gets her investment ideas from reading up the personal finance sections of newspapers and blogs on the subject. The 32-year old saves 35 per cent of her husband and her own salary. Almost 60 per cent is invested in mutual funds. The rest goes into PPF and VPF. Ghosh also maintains a contingency fund, equivalent to three months of their combined salary. Ghosh is well insured. Currently, she has Rs 5 million worth of term (with critical insurance) cover while her husband has a term cover worth Rs 10.5 million. They have a combined medical insurance cover of Rs 1 million — a number she plans to augment considerably once they have their first child. Her other financial goals include saving for retirement, child’s education, going on a foreign trip in the next three years, and buying a house in the next five. She is adhering to a strict financial plan to achieve all these goals. Pankaaj Maalde, chief financial planner, says: Ghosh started consulting a financial advisor to plan her finances only recently. She should have done so earlier. She has good control over her expenses and prioritises her goals. Even after the arrival of a child, she should maintain the same level of discipline in managing her money. This will help her fulfil all her goals in the long run. Meghana Mamtura, 39, has been working as a product marketing professional in the telecommunication sector for the past 15 years. However, she quit her job recently to start her own travel and tourism business targeting women. She started handling her finances after she got married.
She stays in Thane with her husband and a 10-year-old daughter. She has been consulting a financial advisor for the past six years and believes that has put her on course to achieve all her crucial financial goals.Her husband and she both invest around 30 per cent of their salaries in mutual funds, fixed deposits, PPF and direct equities. She maintains an equity-debt ratio of 60:40 per cent. Around 10 per cent of her portfolio is invested in direct equities. She understands the need for insurance products and has bought all the necessary covers, including life, car and home insurance. Mamtura has a family floater health insurance cover for Rs 2 million and combined term insurance for Rs 20.5 million. Mamtura and her husband review their finances quarterly. She keeps track of where her investments are parked, how they are performing, and is familiar with their risk profile, taxation and redemption procedures. She did financial planning for two years to be able to save enough to start her own business. Leaving a settled job to start a business while managing the household at the same time can be a drain, both mentally and on finances. But Meghana thinks that proper planning of the family’s finances has helped take away a lot of tension. Some of her other financial goals include saving for retirement, saving more money to invest in her business, and creating an adequate corpus for her daughter’s education and marriage. Kalpesh Ashar, chief financial planner, Fullcirclefpa.com, says: Mamtura is in transition as she has quit her job and is working towards becoming an entrepreneur. The good thing is that she is aware of her financial profile and is in control of it. In pursuing her own business, unlike being salaried, there will be financial hitches. But she shouldn’t neglect maintaining her investments. She should rationalise and cut down on expenses, if needed. Nasreen Hashambhoy, a coach and trainer in soft skills, lives in Mumbai with her mother. A late entrant into managing finances, she started doing so only in her thirties. Currently, she maintains a strict regime, and fulfils her investment commitments before making other expenses. She has also consulted financial advisors to reach her goals. The 51-year-old invests in mutual funds through systematic investment plans, fixed deposits and PPF. Hashambhoy saves almost 45 per cent of her salary and invests 90 per cent of it in mutual funds. She maintains a debt-equity ratio of 60:40 per cent as she is risk averse and puts a higher portion of her investments in debt-oriented funds. She has Rs 500,000 worth of health insurance cover and Rs 2 million worth of life insurance to support herself, and her mother, if needed. She keeps a close eye on whether her investments are on course to help her achieve her goals. These include an annual holiday with her mother and retirement. She reviews her portfolios every month by herself, and once every year with her financial planner. Suresh Sadagopan, chief financial planner, Ladder7.com, says: As she stays with only her mother, she has limited expenses and doesn’t touch her investments even in case of emergencies. In this way she saves up a lot for her goals. She should stay the course.