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Burn, baby, burn

I was watching a programme on Ghengis Khan this week, and with Women’s Day having just passed, it made me realise that at least in some societies women have made tremendous advances. In Khan’s day, 800 years ago, women captured in battle were part of the spoils of victory. Khan’s first wife and mother of three of his sons was one of these spoils of battle. Today, in many societies, women now have choices — they choose their partners, their careers and whether or not to have children and how many.

Yet, according to Bonny Feldman, head of external communications at First National Bank, despite this high level of independence, there are still far too many women who rely on partners for financial stability.

”Large numbers of women do not remain married in today’s environment, so the concept of a man taking care of one financially is no longer something to rely on. Some women remain in unhappy relationships purely because they fear being unable to cope on their own financially, so this is even more reason why women need to develop financial independence from an early age. There are also many women who are choosing not to marry. They have to take control of finances because there simply isn’t someone else to do so for them.”

As the country celebrated Women’s Day recently, women can use the public holiday to put some time aside to analyse their financial situation and make some changes if necessary. Here are some points to reflect on:

  • ”In general, women tend to be too averse to taking risks. They should be more adventurous. I find my female clients ask all the right questions, but still do not trust their judgement. Married women should also ask questions about the financial affairs of their husbands. These days, there are still women who leave everything to their husbands. They should understand where their money is going and what provision is being made for their future.” — Sunel Veldtman, portfolio manager, BJM Private Client Services
  • ”Both women and men seem to psychologically need to spend money to feel better — especially when they don’t have it. The problem is that they exacerbate the issue. The more desperate they become, the less logic they use to inform their decisions. A trusted financial voice is highly recommended. Dealing with debt upfront is always better. Avoiding the issue just feeds into negative self-image which then feeds the need to spend more.” — Aderyn Exley, psychologist
  • ”The most important thing you need to do to escape the debt trap is to realise your back is against the wall and to start doing something about it. The first thing you need to do is understand where you’re spending money by writing down where your salary is going each month. This list of income and expenditure should enable you to decide where you can cut back on non-essentials to begin repaying some of your debts. Prepare a prioritised list of all the debts you pay on a monthly basis. Put the debts which attract the most interest at the top of the list. You’ll generally find these are short-term debts, such as shopping accounts and short-term loans, while longer-term debt such as car finance and mortgages tend to come lower down the list. Essential payments such as rates or rent should come right at the end. You’re now in a position to implement your strategy to get out of the debt trap by using the savings you’ve made by cutting back on some non-essential expenses to pay off the high-interest short-term debt.” — René Roux, Old Mutual Bank’s marketing manager
  • ”Each investor is different, regardless of their gender, and people should have a comprehensive and detailed financial needs analysis done by a suitably qualified financial planner and make sure that the planner doesn’t just represent one product-provider house. Take action now, do not leave the decision for ‘later’. You’ll only forget and realise that you should have started investing when it is too late or when your situation has changed so that you are no longer in a position to save or invest.” — Rene Miles, managing director of Alternative Channel
  • ”It is very important for women bringing up children on their own to realise that they will have to provide the finances for schooling, healthcare and a decent home. Also, should the parent die while the children are still young, finances have to be available for the maintenance of the children.” — Bonny Feldman, FNB
  • ”Women need to look at the financial implications of marriage as they tend to be quite lax about making appropriate demands in this regard. They should also realise that female life expectancy is higher than males and they have to save more to be able to fund their retirement years.” — Bonny Feldman, FNB

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