This Women’s Month, take control of your finances and own your financial freedom
Aneth Ng-Lim (The Philippine Star) - March 6, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - This March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day around the theme #BeBoldForChange. One bold move women can make is to grab the reins when it comes to their finances and start taking concrete steps to achieve financial independence.

The roots of International Women’s Day (IWD) date back to the early 1900s, with observations and celebrations occurring in many countries on various dates. By 1977, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 8 as International Women’s Day, as it continues to be observed today. In some countries, International Women’s Day is recognized as an official holiday. Indeed, it’s a great time to acknowledge that women are gaining recognition in different fields and that more women are achieving their ambitions despite the obstacles that many continue to face.

With that success comes the all-important task of building and protecting your wealth. Although money matters are not gender-specific, the fact remains that women face many challenges that may affect their finances.

For instance, when women bear children, they may choose to leave the workforce or work fewer hours, thereby affecting their earning capacity. In addition, despite changing societal norms, women are traditionally expected to fulfill various domestic obligations such as taking care of children and elders, running the household, and preparing meals. In many cases, these added obligations can prevent them from taking on a full-time job or running their own business.

Despite these challenges, every woman should not forget that they hold the key to their financial wellness. They need to make decisions not only on a personal level but also consider the impact of their decisions on their financial future.

Here are five important things women need to remember when it comes to matters of personal finance:  

1. Pay yourself first. As a mother, wife, daughter or sister, many women think about others before themselves. Being selfless is always good, but remember that you can’t be of any help to others unless you are strong, including in the financial front. This is why you should make it a point to always set aside money for yourself, and this should take precedence over everything else. This will constitute your savings which you can use for emergencies and which can also serve as your seed fund for retirement. Each time you get your salary, set aside this portion first, instead of saving what is left of your money after you’ve spent on everything else. This way, you always come first.

2. Protect your income. Uncertainty is part of life, which is why you need to find ways to protect your income. As a woman, you know that your children and family will depend on you, which is why you do not want to put your finances at risk. Purchase life insurance, which is especially needed if you have children. You also need health insurance to ensure that your family wouldn’t have to suffer if you should get sick.

3. Plan for retirement. Don’t be so focused on your day-to-day needs that you forget to plan for your retirement years. After all, you don’t want to be entirely dependent on your children or relatives to help you once you reach your golden years. It is never too early or too late to plan for your retirement. In fact, the earlier you start, the better. Don’t be afraid to invest your money for a better future. Consult reputable financial planners on the range of options available to you to place your money.

4. Set specific goals. Think of what you would like to achieve in various aspects of your life — career, family, or personal — and set out a concrete financial plan to achieve these. For instance, if you want to go on a tour that would help widen your horizons, set a timetable for it, then come up with a savings plan for it. This could mean setting aside a certain sum each payday to get that car that you’ve always wanted. You can have short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals, and have plans that will outline how you will obtain all these.

5. Invest in yourself. Your greatest asset is yourself, which is why you should never stop investing in yourself. Make sure you always take time to update your skills so that they are never outdated. Learn new skills and technologies. Read books, attend seminars, travel, and build a network that would help you grow. Taking the time to improve yourself will go a long way in improving your financial state — either through a promotion or from other employment opportunities. But don’t forget to invest in your mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness as well, recognizing that these aspects of your life are integral to your being and need to be continuously nourished.

More women in society are occupying leadership roles — leading a company or even leading a country. Don’t let your responsibilities as a woman — either as a wife, a mother, a daughter or a sister — limit you in making choices that will bring financial fulfillment. The path to a better and more secure future is in your hands.

 * * *

As director for Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship with Citi Philippines, Aneth Ng-Lim drives and supports financial education programs for the bank’s clients and community partners. She is founding co-chair of the Citi Women’s Network Philippines, and proud mother to two daughters, Julienne and Justine.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
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