June marks one year of my writing Rupee Rani for The News Minute. It’s been an immensely satisfying experience and I can’t stress enough on how eye-opening it has been for me as well. The experience has taught me a great deal about how different a woman’s perspective on money is, and the level of impact that society and societal perceptions have even on the most mundane and seemingly unconscious decisions that women take every single day. The most important lesson I’ve learned, however, is how empowering money can be for women, when it’s under their control. Here are a few other things I’ve learned about how women handle their money this past year.
Women Prioritize Family Goals Over Personal Goals
There’s no doubt that women are more adept at setting and framing clear goals than men. However, when they set their goals, their priorities lean more towards their family, the needs of their children and their parents over themselves. The emails I’ve received over the year from women about what they’re saving for usually involve saving for a child’s education or health emergencies. This isn’t to say that women don’t have personal goals – they do - but their own goals are not on the same priority level as those they have for their families.
Women Are More Averse To Risk
When it comes to investing, women are far more averse to riskier investments like Mutual Funds or investing in the Share Market. This isn’t because women cannot afford losses, but that they are more sensitive to the outcome of their investment than men, even if they can afford the losses in the short run.
The primary position that the majority of women occupy in society today are that of caregivers, and this forms the basis of most women’s investment decisions. This, coupled with poor financial awareness and the way women are conventionally raised in society (to be constantly vigilant of all that goes on around them, to trust less and to be careful and conscious of their actions) ensures that risk, and the outcomes of risk are a far greater cause of worry for women more than men.
Women are more anxious about how society perceives a less-than-favourable outcome, than how the outcome will actually affect them. So, even if the loss is minor, the psychological impact of the loss is greater for women than it is for men, thus putting them off risk.
Women Invest Safely Because They Simply Don’t Have The Time
Women always want to know what they’re getting into, and if they decide that they don’t understand something, they prefer to stay away from it. It’s also significant to note that although women today are far more educated than they ever were and take on jobs that place them in high positions on the corporate ladder, they simply don’t have the time for research because they are also in charge of taking care of their homes.
We talk about equal marriages, but for most families, especially in India, it’s just talk. The modern woman has a lot on her plate – she needs to be good at her job and take care of her family and household, leaving her behind with precious little time that she would rather spend on herself than on trying to research Mutual Funds.
What Needs To Change?
There is a lot of talk about innovation and creativity when it comes to getting women more involved in investing, but I think it’s a lot simpler than that – all women want when it comes to investing and money management are platforms and solutions that are jargon-free, clear about risk and reward, and aren’t time consuming to take on. It is also important that women need to tell themselves that money and investing isn’t a topic that is out of reach or impossible to understand – and I hope to continue reinforcing that through this column.