Financial Planning Tips for Women
I think we are all very thankful to have had an extra day off from work this month – a day when it is that time of the year where your attention span is short, a lot shorter than the list of things to do before the summer holidays – so we tend not to think about the significance of the day we are granted. A quick history lesson for those who may need a refresher: on 9 August 1956, some 20 000 women from all over the country marched on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest the proposed changes to the pass laws which were in effect. The laws required those classified as “black”[i] to carry an internal passport (a “pass”) with them at all times.[ii] The changes proposed were meant to control women even further and reduce women to passive beings, at the mercy of men.[iii] The march was led by four women: Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams De Bruyn, and was planned so that they could deliver a petition to the then-Prime Minister JG Strijdom’s office at the Union Buildings.[iv]
It was a peaceful protest, with the women standing in silence in front of the Union Building for thirty minutes, before breaking out into song, singing “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock”.[v] It was a turning point for the role of women in the struggle for freedom and in society at large. Today, when we celebrate women’s day or women’s month in South Africa, we are honouring those women and the immense role they have played in the part that we can now play in society, the rights and freedoms that we enjoy; we are also celebrating the strength of women, the rocks of our society.
In light of the rights and privileges of women which were fought for by our ancestors, we have a duty as South African women to play an active role in our community and our country. However, none of that can happen if you first cannot play an active role in your own life, especially your own finances.
That considering, here are eight financial planning tips for women for this very special eight month of the year:
1. Understand your finances
You must know what is going on with your finances and your financial plan, regardless of your situation. Do not let a parent, partner, trustees or anyone else tell you that they “have it all under control” while they are managing your finances on your behalf. Make sure that you understand what your financial position is; it may be daunting, but you will learn to understand it bit by bit.
2. Have your own bank account
Make sure that you have a bank account in your own name that no one else has access to, and in which you have some funds. It need not be a fancy account or a big amount – all that matters is that it is money that only you have access to and that you can use when you need it, without having to rely on anyone else. You never know when you might be in a situation where you want to rely only on yourself and have access to money without having to explain.
3. Avoid expensive debt
It is sometimes unavoidable to buy things on credit, be it with a credit card, store card or personal loan. Especially with store cards, be very mindful of the interest rate you are being charged. Normally there are options where, for example, if you choose to pay something off over six months, the interest is lower than when you choose to pay it off over twelve months. Make as many additional payments as possible on your account, even if you think the amount is negligible. Every bit helps!
4. Look after yourself first
Although it might be women’s nature to nurture and care for others, remember that it is just as important to look after yourself. Make sure that you have the right financial planning tools and products in place to look after yourself, should something unfortunate happen. Otherwise, you might be in a situation where you cannot provide for yourself or for others… as the saying goes, when you take a flight and the crew go through the safety procedures, remember always to put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others.
5. Save enough for retirement
Statistically speaking, women live on average five years longer than men.[vi] Those are years that you will be spending in retirement, which means that women need to save more for retirement than men. Make sure that you start saving as early as possible – again, every bit helps – and make sure that you do not invest too conservatively. You have to harness the power of compound interest to your advantage as much as possible.
6. Don’t fall for women-specific products (or not all of them, at least)
Many financial products are marketed to target women specifically. They focus on products “designed specifically for women”, generally covering illnesses that are more female-specific. Although these might sound good (and in some instances are), make sure that you compare these products with more gender-neutral products before you start committing to monthly premiums. In some instances, you will find that products designed for both genders will cover a wider variety of illnesses at the same price.
7. Spoil yourself, but within reason
Everyone deserves to spoil themselves every once in a while. However, if you do spend money on something nice, do it within reason. If there is something specific your heart desires, just make sure that you are not buying it for the brand or the status – there might be something cheaper out there that is of the same quality, or even better. Some shopping around might also pay off if you find what you want at a discount somewhere. And if you decide to splurge, just make sure that you can afford to pay for it with cash and not on credit.
8. Find someone you trust
Through it all, it is better if you have a trusted financial planner with you along the way, to help you navigate your financial plan and all the options in the market out there. Make sure that you put your trust in someone who deserves it: someone who has the necessary experience and qualifications to give you sound advice tailored to your needs. If you do not have someone, or you are unhappy with your current financial adviser, take a look at the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa’s website at the list of Certified Financial Planning Professionals (CFP®) registered with them by following this link: https://www.fpi.co.za/FPI/Find_an_Advisor/FPI_Consumers/Find_A_Financial_Planner_Basic.aspx?hkey=464f65d6-5006-4f19-9b0a-ec774151b117.
You owe it to yourself to work with the best and to get the right advice for your unique situation.
Lecturer, School of Financial Planning and Insurance, Milpark Education
[i] Population Registration Act No. 30 of 1950 section 1
[ii] National Women’s day [Online] Available from: Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Women%27s_Day [Accessed: 2019-08-11]
[iii] 2018. Women’s Month 2019. [Online] Available from: South African Government: https://www.gov.za/WomensMonth2019 [Accessed: 2019-08-11]
[iv] Women’s Month. [Online] Available from: SAnews.gov.za: https://www.sanews.gov.za/special-features-archive/womens-month [Accessed: 2019-08-11]
[v] National Women’s day [Online] Available from: Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Women%27s_Day [Accessed: 2019-08-11]
[vi] 2018. Why women need to save more for retirement than men do. [Online] Available from: Fin24. https://www.fin24.com/Money/Retirement/why-women-need-to-save-more-for-retirement-than-men-do-20180831 [Accessed: 2019-08-12]
© 2019 Milpark Education (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved. The content of this article is provided for general information purposes only, and does not constitute financial, legal, planning, investment or other professional advice, or an opinion of any kind. Visitors to this article are advised to seek specific guidance on financial-planning issues from recognised CFP® professionals, who are members of the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa, and who are in good standing. Milpark Education does not warrant or guarantee the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information in this article. The article is current, as of the original date of publication, but should not be relied upon as accurate, timely or fit for any particular purpose. Views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of Milpark Education.
20 Aug 2019