Financial planning provides you with a roadmap to achieve your financial goals by deploying your financial resources most efficiently. This exercise can be especially arduous for women, as they face steep challenges in terms of wage gaps, career breaks for child-rearing, and planning for longer life spans. So, here is a general financial checklist for financial planning for women that you can follow to be on track to achieving financial stability.
Be Financially Literate
You can initiate your financial planning journey by educating yourself about personal finance and investments. You must have a rudimentary working knowledge of the basic financial products and must stay updated with key events that affect the financial sector. Understand the risks and returns associated with an investment. Avoid complex financial products, which offer a very high rate of return, or come across as being too speculative.
Create a Holistic Financial Plan
You can be assured of wealth creation only with a robust financial plan in place. You must take stock of all your assets and debts. Keep track of your expenses and ensure that you save at least 20-30% of your income. Then, set your financial goals, which account for education or medical funding expenses, tax planning, as well as for retirement. This exercise becomes especially crucial if you are married, as you must align your goals with your spouse.
Your plan needs to be flexible enough so that it can accommodate any life-goal changes as well as changes in income patterns due to career breaks. Finally, you need to ensure that your savings rate is aligned with your goals. Remember, the planning strategies you undertake in your 20s and 30s will ultimately determine the final amount in your retirement fund.
Maintain an Emergency Fund
You must have a safety net in place to be able to meet any expenses that may crop up in case of a contingency. You must stash funds equivalent to 6-8 months’ worth of expenses in a liquid financial instrument, which can be easily accessed during emergencies. For instance, if your monthly expenses approximate Rs. 50,000, then you are advised to have at least Rs. 3 lakhs in your emergency fund. Additionally, you must also invest in a life insurance plan to secure your family’s future. Health coverage should also be taken to minimise hospitalisation and related expenses.
No one becomes rich solely by saving money. To meet your financial goals successfully, you will need to invest your savings. In fact, you should even invest your ‘Streedhan’. By Streedhan, we are referring to your wedding gifts as well as the money received on festive occasions.
You must have an idea about your risk appetite. However, being too risk averse may result in investments in low-yield instruments, which can jeopardise your financial planning. Consult a financial planner who can guide you better. You can invest in mutual funds through SIPs if active trading is not something that you would like to undertake. Diversify your portfolio of investments by ensuring that your investments are not highly correlated. While there is no one-size-fits-all method for portfolio creation, ideally a portfolio should include a heady mix of stocks, bonds, and physical assets, such as real estate or gold. You will also need to account for the tax implications of these investments.
Create Additional Steady Income Streams
While being career-oriented can ensure that you continue to earn a steady income, the buck doesn’t stop there. You will be well served by exploring opportunities that generate additional income to be able to meet your financial goals easily. You can invest in a rental property that generates regular income, or invest in some crowdfunded business projects. You can also undertake a side hustle for additional income.
This financial checklist is by no means set in stone. We encourage you to customise this financial checklist as per your needs. Your financial goals will transform every time your life changes. Occasions like higher education, career growth, marriage, and child-rearing can impact your financial goals significantly. Hence, your financial planning must plan for all these facets of life. Always remember to keep your debts low and investments high.