Financial Independence, The First Step to The ‘Real Independence’
March 8, International Women’s marks and celebrates the free spirit of women; her being independent and capable of following her dreams. The first step to her independence is she being financially self -sustaining.
The ground rule is if one is financially independent, all the other aspects of independence follow. However, even today in India, there is much that needs to be done in this direction.
Why is it important to be financially independent?
1) To be one step ahead of the rising costs: The world is shrinking and aspirations are rising and to fulfil dreams one needs a balanced flow of finances to run a household of 3-4 members. A house, good education for children and a comfortable life is what is the least expectation of a family.
Shikha Sawant, HR in a pharmaceutical company mentions that while attending a conference in India she realised that although women were encouraged to complete their higher education and do specializations like a Masters, they were not encouraged to go out and work. This initially started with restrictions on women to work and later due to unwillingness and lack of ability to take a stand for themselves. “This was very strange as highly educated women just didn’t care about the so much time they have invested in learning the skills and could have made the best use of it by working- earning for themselves and family, helping in the GDP growth of the country and being independent always.
2) To Be There at the Time of Crisis: There are two parts to it: For the Family and Because of the Family.
– For the Family: Emergency catches people when they are least aware. Recessions leading to job loss, a sudden health scare, failure in business projects etc. are times when a family needs most financial help and if there is only a single person earning in that family, then there is a problem. In addition to spending the basic foreground expenses, the family will have additional background expenses like EMIs on home loans, vehicle loans etc. Failure of paying off these EMIs will have a grave impact and so financially being prepared for the same is always the best.
– Because of the Family: Not all marriages are like fairy tales and some do crumble like a pack of cards. For a man it is easier as he is already financially independent but for a woman to move it is slightly difficult if she has been financially dependent. Going back to the maiden house and staying with parents is not a permanent solution and depending on others for financial support is not fair these days owing to the rising expenses. By working and being financially independent, the women can well take care of their needs as well of the children (if any).
Priyanka Gogoi, mother of six-year-old Kiara says, “When my daughter was two years old, my husband and I separated. Post that I finished my B.E.D and M.E.D even while doing freelancing. Now I am working as a senior teacher in a reputed school and have complete financial independence. We go out on holidays and I am able to fulfil my child’s requirements though I stay with my parents it’s just for the time being emotional support.”
In the case of single mothers, divorces or widows certainly financial independence is important for monetary needs and self-esteem.
“The very fact that we talk about this issue shows that there is some problem here. Across the various classes of jobs right from house help to a corporate level officer, there are women who are violated for various reasons. By being financially independent she can protect herself and stand tall in the patriarchal set-up of our social fabric.” says Pearl Mistry, a lawyer by profession.
It is an art to save money and also do the right investment to grow money. Financial independence is way beyond fulfilling just the monetary requirements, with this self –sufficiency comes self-respect and confidence.
This event coverage snippet was first published in the print version of SUBURB March 2019 issue.