Change your money mindset: Finances are not the sole domain of men

Mar 06, 2023
Zainab Jabri was forced to challenged the narrative that finances belong only in a man’s world.

In my 20s, I internalized financial advice from the worst possible source - fashion and pop culture icon Carrie Bradshaw.

For the uninitiated, Sex and the City, was an American television series featuring four successful professional women living in Manhattan, with the star being the protagonist and narrator Carrie Bradshaw. One of her most memorable quotes is, “l like my money where I can see it: hanging in my closet” (right next to the Manolo Blahniks, Jimmy Choos and Christian Louboutins).

I splurged on clothes, shoes, bags, and junk jewellery but, fortunately, stayed away from getting into debt. I thought that was sufficient. I remained blissfully unaware of financial planning, or even financial prudence. On my father’s persuasion and prodding, I begrudgingly “invested” in some insurance policies.

I got married. I held a job. I earned well. And I was naïve enough to believe that life would carry on as envisaged. And then life happened. I got divorced and found myself single.

Here’s what I learnt, and my advice to other women.

  • The future is all about probabilities. Nothing is set in stone.

People change. Situations change. Circumstances change. Perspectives change. Adapt. Move on. Don't waste energy, time or resources trying to salvage what is gone or living in the past.

Healing oneself after a divorce is a time-consuming process with a non-linear trajectory, as one experiences extreme emotions and wants to hold on to the parts of life planned as a couple. In retrospect, I wasted a lot of time and energy in this transition. I wanted things to remain static for as long as possible so that I could hold on to a shred of the past a little longer.

To add to it was the fear of the unknown, which paralyzes one into inaction.

  • Money offers security and provides options.

Every woman should prioritize being financially independent and educate herself about financial planning. You owe it to yourself.

In my years as a practicing lawyer, I have witnessed women at the receiving end of domestic abuse. Their parents would coax them to ‘adjust’ only to later recoil in horror when their received the news of their daughter’s suicide or murder. The tragedy in almost all cases is that the women were not financially independent and consequently, unable to walk out of a bad relationship.

What has worked for me and boosted my confidence is being financially independent. I am employed and earning, and now investing. I shudder to think of what life would have been had I not eventually become financially independent.

  • Just start. You are never too young. It is never too late.

Don't disregard small beginnings. Start investing, however small the amount and irrespective of your age. Do it with the monetary gifts given to you if you are not earning. If you are a homemaker, try and save something from your monthly budget.

I was not brought up to think about financial planning. When getting married, I was not coached as to the intricacies of a couple’s finances when both are earning. Financial planning is mostly limited to typically taking forward the practices of parents and going for the seemingly safe options of buying gold, real estate, and investing in a fixed deposit. And then the husband taking over.

I began exploring and working on options that would hopefully create sustainable and self-churning wealth for me in my old age. I now have a pension scheme, I invest in the stock market and invest in mutual funds via systematic investment plans (SIPs).

  • Change your money mindset. Finance is not the sole domain of males. Take ownership of your financial education.

ZAINAB JABRI is the head of Offshore Forensic Services and Director at one of the four big audit firms. She is a doting aunt to her nephews and nieces, and mother to a bunch of cats and dogs.

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