I must declare upfront, that this topic is quite close to my heart. I’m passionate about women empowerment, and I strongly believe that empowerment starts with the development of oneself. It is essential to invest in yourself first before expecting others to invest in you.
Women need to be viewed as active participants in the progress of self-development. In order to strengthen women empowerment, females need to take ownership of their future.
To be socially and economically empowered as women, is to be free.
Now here’s the dilemma.
On average, women in South Africa earn less than their male counterparts. Furthermore, women take time out of their careers to nurture and raise children; and typically women live longer than men.
All odds against us, correct? Well, toughen up buttercup because nobody ever said life would be easy.
Having said this however, I truly believe that there are ways in which we, as women, can empower ourselves – both socially and economically.
For starters, you can negotiate a salary increase with your employer if you feel that your earnings are below par. A recruitment agent can confirm whether your salary is below par or not.
Let’s go back to basics.
Below are a few steps to securing your financial wellbeing, without necessarily relying on your partner or spouse:
BOOST YOUR INCOME
“The best time to have a conversation with your employer about your salary is when you have your annual performance review or when your salary is increased annually”, says Debbie Marshall, a human resources consultant.
“We know that not all people with the same title do the same thing, therefore go into the discussion armed with facts”, adds Debbie.
Personally, I highlight the contributions I have made to the team, and the value I add to the company. I amplify the things that set me apart from my peers.
The key is to negotiate hard from the onset, before you accept the job; because trying to catch up later may be challenging.
If you want to boost your income, you first need to believe in yourself and your capabilities.
COVER YOUR RISKS
If you are a single mother with dependent children, you need to make sure that your children will be provided for should you pass on prematurely, or in the unfortunate event that you become disabled.
I’d recommend that you chat to your financial advisor to discuss the life assurance policies available to you; that will pay out when you pass on and/or lose your ability to earn an income.
CHECK YOUR MATE
“If you are married or cohabitating with your partner, you need to know about your partner’s financial affairs”, says Sone Cloete, a Legal Advisor.
“Women have a tendency to defer to their spouses. When women leave all money decisions to their spouses, it renders them vulnerable in the unfortunate event of death or divorce.”, says Logie Govender, a CFP professional.
“Women need to educate themselves on money matters and understand the implications for the family if their husband were to die or divorce them. What would happen if your husband were to become disabled?”, adds Logie.
The message is: As a couple – plan together. As the woman, be involved in all financial planning and understand your marriage contract.
WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY
Having a Will is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself, and your family. Granted, none of us want to think about death as the thought alone is quite burdensome.
Having said this however, it is important to have a Will drafted. Not only can a Will legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, it can also spell out exactly how you would like things handled after you have passed on. It serves as your voice when you’re no longer around.
There are many other important reasons why you should have a Will, which include, but not limited to:
– Nominating guardians for your minor children. In the absence of a Will, the Court may take it upon itself to choose among family members or a state-appointed guardian.
– Avoiding lengthy legal disputes/challenges. If you pass on without a Will, part or all of your estate may pass onto someone you did not intend.
I guess, even more important, is to review your Will. When circumstance in your life change, your Will must be reviewed. I’d recommend that your Will is reviewed at least once a year.
The following should prompt a review (this list is not exhaustive, please consult your financial advisor for advice and guidance):
1. The birth of a child (A few weeks before my daughter was born, I added her full names to my Will. Yes, we had already chosen a name for her :). I knew that after her birth, I’d probably want to use that time to bond with her and give her my full attention; and not to mention adjust to this brand new world called motherhood. I had peace of mind at home knowing that my Will had been updated.)
3. Change in assets (Acquiring or disposing of assets)
“Most women don’t draft a Will or know what the impact will be if their partner or spouse dies without leaving a Will that provides for them”, says Angelique Visser, the director of Baraza Wealth (and also one of the women I admire in the Trusts and Fiduciary space).
It also important to note that if your Will is poorly drafted, it may be tricky to execute after you have passed on. I therefore urge you to have your Will drafted by a professional.
Saving for emergencies is as essential as saving for retirement. Saving for retirement is particularly important for women, because we have a longer life expectancy than men.
We all need to save for short-, medium-, and long-term expenses. Short-term expenses are particularly burdensome as they are often unexpected.
Speak to your financial advisor and discuss the investment options suitable to your particular lifestyle.
The above views are thought-provoking, and may be uncomfortable for some however, these type of discussions and important and necessary. These are the conversations we are not having as women, and I think it’s time we started conversing in this manner so that we can share and learn from each other.
Nothing is more empowering than being financially secure; as well as the comfort of knowing that YOU (yes, you lady) have adequately prepared for the future. It all starts with YOU.
Love and light.