We are well into the end of 2017 now, and what better time than a new year for us to collectively pick up our financial socks, take stock of our money situation and make financial resolutions that will help us get better with money and plan a better future.
Resolution 1: I will take control of my money
Ladies, it’s going to be 2018 and that means that it's time to stop delegating the management of your money to the male members in your family. This 2018, resolve to be aware of where every penny of your paycheck is going, whether it’s taxes, expenses or investments.
If you’re married, you need to know where your partner’s paycheck is going as well. Take some time off once a month to sit down with your partner and talk about money. Remember that it doesn’t matter if you’re a homemaker, you still need to have this conversation.
When you know what’s happening in your bank account, you’re equipped to make better money related decisions. And when you know how much money is coming in and out of your bank account, you can get started on resolution number 2.
Resolution 2: I will draw up a rough budget at the start of every month
Although drawing up a budget sounds daunting, it’s a simple exercise. At the start of every month, write down how much money will come in and then reduce essential expenses to arrive at how much extra money you will have at hand. Almost every ‘essential’ expense, such as rent, electricity, groceries and provisions etc are predictable.
Once you’ve arrived at this figure you will know how much money you have on hand to spend on variable and non-essential items. Once you know this, it’s time to take resolution number 3.
Resolution 3: I will save before I spend
Instead of saving after you’re done spending, spend what you have on hand, after you’ve saved! It’s so simple and ensures that you inculcate a habit of saving.
Set aside money during the first week of the month towards any savings scheme of your choice. It can be an SIP in a Mutual Fund, it can be a recurring deposit , it can be any savings instrument of your choice – just make sure you save the money before you spend. The great thing about spending after you’re saving is that you can spend that money, guilt free! Just keep an eye on how you’re spending it though, which brings us to resolution number 4.
Resolution 4: I will monitor my credit card usage religiously
A credit card is one of the best financial tools that are out there, provided you use it properly. How does one use their credit card properly? By not spending what they don’t have, by being aware of their billing cycle (most credit cards bill from the 15th of the first month to the 15th of the second month) and by paying their bills in full and on time because the ‘minimum due’ is a terrible trap to fall prey to.
It’s only when you read the fine print on credit cards do you realize how dangerous they can be if you’re not completely conscious of how they work. Speaking of reading, let’s get down to our last resolution – number 5.
Resolution 5: I will read and learn as much as I can about money and money management
Financial terminologies and money jargon puts off so many women from learning more about how money works, which is honestly tragic, because this lack of knowledge prevents women from becoming truly financially independent. The only way to beat this is by reading as much as possible to gain understanding and insight into how money works and I promise you that it’s all really simple and surprisingly feminine.
I guess all I’m trying to say here is that I hope to see you reading my column well into 2018! Here’s to a fantastic new year.
Rupee Rani is a weekly column on finance for women. Write to us with your queries at firstname.lastname@example.org.