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LADIES, how many of you know every inch of the family finances, and how many of you choose to let your husbands or partners take care of that side of things? Well, in all honesty, if you say yes to either option, you are far from alone.
Of course, not everyone has a partner to share the financial burden, which means it is even more important to keep a tight rein on your financial affairs, because if things go wrong, you are literally on your own.
There are no end of women who come to see me in times of crisis who suddenly realise that while they were busy taking care of their children, or working through their day’s chores, they have no concept of how their finances actually work. Single ladies are often just too busy to take the time to deal with their finances as effectively as they should.
They will be surprised when they find out that they have more debts than they expected, or insurance policies they did not know about, or had forgotten about. The real shame though is when they come to me and find out that while they thought their husband was dealing with the life insurance, he thought they were. Often by the time they see me, it is too late to remedy this.
Financial planning may seem complicated, and it can appear boring at times to the untrained eye. But consider this: if you think finance is boring, then how interesting do you think a life in penury is going to be?
Working women, mothers, single career women and even those who are simply trying to make ends meet all have one thing in common – they fail to take the time to deal with their personal financial planning. It is very low on this list of priorities, and by the time they realise they needed to work on that as much as their career or their children, it is often too late.
Your financial position has such an intimate bearing on everything you do in life, that you have no means of avoiding its grasp. For example, having enough money to live on is essential, but having enough to do what you want to do is one of life’s luxuries. As many of us will have seen both ends of the spectrum, it is important not to lose sight of the importance of nurturing your financial affairs, in the same way that you would nurture your child or your garden. In the end, you want your money to grow in the same kind of way, to give you the best fruits of your labour you can have without any worry.
You want your money to grow, but in a way that will allow you to not only meet your goals and aims, it will also align with your ethical principles. Yes, it is possible to get the results you want without losing sight of your hopes and beliefs along the way, and I for one am here to help you achieve that.
Over the coming months I will be looking at the best ways you can keep on top of your financial affairs, not by having to pore over detailed spreadsheets and watch endless reams of financial current affairs videos – unless you really want to – but rather by establishing some basic understanding of the best way to make your money work as hard for you as you do for it.
Finance does not need to be hard work, however it is something that needs relatively regular attention to avoid it becoming difficult to manage. There are so many areas you need to consider to ensure your affairs are not only well-balanced, but so that no single item gets overlooked.
Let’s take a workout example. You would be unlikely to go to the gym on a regular basis and simply work on one set of muscles in your body, would you? For sure it would mean that you may have amazing triceps, if that was your muscle of choice, but they would be useless if the rest of your body was badly out of shape. Well, the same thing happens with your financial affairs if you do not ensure they are worked on throughout the year.
Extreme financial events, such as the credit crunch or the ongoing euro crisis, will quickly knock investment portfolios out of shape without proper monitoring. And it is not only global crises that can have an effect either. Personal crises are often even more shocking to the system, such as a house flood, or a death in the family, or even perhaps a poorly relative who needs medical assistance that you will have to fund. It could even be you that needs medical help, and although we would all hope this does not happen to us, there is no point in being unrealistic. It could happen to anyone, at any time.
But I realise that what you do not need is a lecture, or a set of goals that are so complicated, it makes it feel impossible to work out what you need, or where you need to start from. So I will make finance simple by taking one issue each month and offering practical advice on how you can make the changes that will empower you.
Through this monthly column, I am going to be giving you the tools you need to take control of your finances, which will help you to keep control of everything else in your life. I will take away the worry of uncertainty, explain the difficult bits, and have a bit of a laugh with you along the way. After all, finance can be fun. Honest.
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