“A woman’s best protection is a little money of her own.” – Clare Boothe Luce (first American woman appointed as an ambassador)
“My husband gives me Rs. 500/- to fill petrol in the car; I fill petrol for Rs. 300/- and keep Rs. 200/- for myself.” My friend is an MBA grad; she and her husband run a franchise business of a popular interior decor company. “I don’t like to ask him for money” she says. She has all the creature comforts of life and more; but still she needs some money for herself, perfectly understandable and much needed; only her source of income may not resound with everyone.
In another home – “You were stealing money from me all these years; I knew it !!” said the husband jokingly. The wife was showing off her newly acquired diamond earrings; she was however not amused. “How can you say that?” says the wife looking dejected. “You know perfectly well that I got these with my tutoring income.” She teaches kids French at her home – a popular second language in many schools; again she has everything taken care of by her husband’s income. With her additional income, she is free to spend on her guilty pleasures without having to squeeze the money from the household expenses or ask her husband.
Another lady friend has a 9 to 5 job, two kids, parents and in-laws – a modern superwoman managing a full plate. Sometimes it is like burning the candle on both ends. “I am exhausted” she says. “Why don’t you take a break from work?” I ask. “No way” she says. “I don’t want to ask him (husband) for money.”
Even if all the household expenses are taken care of; women still need their own income stream; you can call it pocket money, if you think it’s a trivial issue; but we need it. Asking for money from our spouses for our indulgences is not an option. He is doing all the heavy lifting in term of all the living expenses and asking more seems unfair and excessive from our side; we are supposed to help cut down on the expenses, not add to them. There was an article in the newspaper recently saying more and more women are quitting mainstream jobs as salaries have increased and single salary is now enough to support a nuclear family. On the other hand, the number of women starting small entrepreneurial ventures and part time work is increasing.
It is not necessarily a total financial freedom or FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) that we aspire; but an income stream to help free us from asking for money from our spouses. Most of us start with a 9 to 5 job and unless we want to slave away for the rest of our lives, we have to develop a second income stream; either a business or an asset that provides an income stream. And it’s always good to start thinking about it and making plans as early as possible.
Also a women’s corporate career is a roller-coaster ride; if her salary income is not critical to the household expenses, it is easy to succumb to pressure of quitting work to take care of the family. It is good to get away from the rat race and the kid will be thrilled; but soon the domestic bliss fades away as money restrictions set in and hence setting up an albeit small but alternative income stream is empowering.
And the easiest way to achieve this in my opinion is by investing in financial assets that provide a passive income stream. Physical assets (such as rent from property) and online/ offline business have their plus points and can be rewarding; but I prefer financial assets – you can manage them from anywhere. Financial assets include fixed deposits, mutual funds, equity and the income they provide include interest income and dividend income.