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Home / Managing Your Money

Tricks about money that today’s woman ought to know

 Although money doesn not buy us happiness, it gives us freedom (Photo: Courtesy)

Money is one of the most important aspects of gender inequality. Yet it is an area that is yet to be tackled seriously. Although money does not buy us happiness, it gives us freedom.

Having enough money gives you choices about where you live, what you do for work and how you spend your free time. If you are married, it gives you choices about the kind of life or inheritance you will leave for your children.

So yes, freedom is empowerment as it facilitates choice. Women today are more educated and more exposed than their mothers or grandmothers.

Yet how many times have we heard the story of the wife whose life completely fell apart after her husband passed away or divorced her? Not forgetting the shocking retirement stories of destitution.

 Further, if one is a single woman, the pressure is even more as you alone are entirely responsible for building long-term wealth for your future without a dual income.

Although more women today are working and involved in investment in property and money markets than ever before, there is still some laxity.

This is probably perpetuated by the roles that men have always played as the financial providers in society.

Also, stories about Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty do not help with their image of women being whisked off to financial security with their happily ever after marriage to prince charming. All the above do not help in empowering women to financial independence.

Eve magazine spoke to women in different career paths to learn about their biggest regrets, lessons or advice they would give to a younger version of themselves concerning money and financial freedom.

According to Abbie Nwaoch, a marketing coach and consultant for New Female Entrepreneurs, 27, her biggest money regret is believing that putting most of her money into her business was the best investment she could make.

“This is something I still cannot believe I legitimately thought for years. While I agree that every business owner must invest in their business, that is definitely not the only investment you should have. This is not a good decision for a number of reasons. Firstly, although business is an asset, it can also be a liability. Although a business can be doing well today, tomorrow things could change,” says Abbie.

“Also putting all your eggs in one basket is not a safe financial plan.  So yes, invest back in your business, but diversify your investments.”

Further, Abbie states that there are many ways that women can diversify their investments.

“Spread your money in different things. Example: money market funds; savings or fixed account to accumulate interest; buy a plot of land (long-term investment); buy a bike and have riders manage it as an “Uber” of sorts or use it for parcel delivery, or rent an apartment and convert it into an Airbnb,” says Abbie.

Further, according to Abbie, you do not have to have a lot of money to make your money work for you.

“If the idea of investing sounds too expensive for you right now, then start with Mshwari Lock Savings as your first investment savings. The minimum amount required is Sh500. And should unexpected circumstances happen, you can always get the money the next day. Plus, you can get some small interest on your money.”

Nancie Amuga, the founder of Dana Courier Services and Errands, who is in her 20s, says her biggest regret is not starting to save for her future sooner.

“Looking back, I wish I had started saving earlier. At the time I began making an income I did not have a lot of information. And even if I saved some money, I never saved it with any plan. I would save for nothing and end up wasting my savings. So, save, but ensure that you have a goal in mind.”

Also, according to Nancie, another lesson she has quickly learnt is that just because you have liquid cash does not mean that you are rich. 

“Liquid cash is money that you can see. For some strange reason, problems run away when you have liquid cash and return after you have used that money on something useless.”

Lastly, Nancie believes improving your financial literacy is key to financial success.

“Ignorance is not your friend. If you want to be financially literate, go online, read a book or find an expert. I did not know about money markets, so I found a friend to help me. Also, as a woman, I have come to realise that being financially stable is important because it gives you options. So always have an emergency fund,” she says.

Jacqueline Abuga, a communication consultant, in her 40s, says she has two things she can share with women about money. Her biggest regret is that she did not start saving earlier.

Education policy

“Start saving as soon as you start earning. You do not have to be wealthy to save, just save whatever you can in the season you are in.”

Secondly, do not invest in anything without doing your due diligence.

“In 2006 , I was made to believe that I had invested in an education policy for my son who at the time was about eight. I wanted to secure his future. The promise I got from the insurance agent was that my investment would start paying when my son joined high school and that I would get a lump sum when the policy matured when my son was in university,” says Jacqueline.

She adds, “Unfortunately, the agent I was dealing with intentionally sold me the wrong policy so he could get a better commission. I trusted him and did not even read the fine print. The agent invested my money in a policy that was dependant on the investments the insurance company made. So, if the company makes a loss with their investment, I also make a loss. In the end, I lost a good chunk of my investment. I invested what remained, and also learnt a very valuable lesson that serves me well to date. Do not trust anyone with your money.”

Sylvia Ngene, 29, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, says that she has observed that women like to take a back seat and leave everything to the man when it comes to investing in property.

“This I believe stems from the fact that although traditional gender roles are changing, there are some roles that are still hard to shake off, with men generally taking the lead on finances and women taking a less active role.

It is not uncommon for women to give men the responsibility to invest in property on behalf of the family. However, my advice to women is that they too need to play an active role when it comes to property investments.”

“Be vigilant. Some wives give their husband’s money to buy property and do not follow up. Although a wife is entitled to the matrimonial property in the event of death or divorce, it is less cumbersome and time-consuming if a wife’s name is also on the marital property. Also, if the wife’s name is not on the title of the property, the property can easily be sold without her knowledge.”

Sylvia says that if you are buying property, be it land, a house or even a car, that you should ensure that the legal process is followed. “If you want to invest your money in starting a side hustle, for example, ensure you follow the legal requirements. Whether it is a sole proprietorship, partnership or company, make sure it is registered.”

“It costs as little as Sh1000 to register a business name while a company is about Sh10,000. This will not only protect the name of your business, but a registered business can better attract customer confidence, investors and one is able to bid for tenders for goods and services.”

According to Rina Hicks, Director at Faida Investment Bank, founder of RH Group Limited and author of Money-Wise: Create, Grow & Preserve Wealth (2016), every woman you meet probably has a story on lessons they have learnt about money.

“My biggest financial mistake was lending a large sum of money to a friend to start a business, and looking at it as an investment with potentially great returns. My relationship with them clouded my judgement, I did not do due diligence. It was an irrational decision, partly to help them but also fuelled by greed and the potential to make significant gains, with very little consideration given to potential risks. I lost my money and a friend too,” says Rina.

The financial expert says that when it comes to family and close friends, do not lend, instead, just give. “In a situation where you must lend, lower your expectations of getting it back, and give what you can afford to lose,” she says.

Rina urges women to invest. “I encourage every woman to invest in growing their financial knowledge so that they know how to evaluate investment opportunities and make informed decisions. You will also know when to reach out to an expert, and what kind of expert, when something is complex or requires expertise which you do not have.”

Rina tells women to be okay with saying no, and not beat themselves up for it. “When you say no, you are saying no to the situation, the opportunity, and not the individual. Your no does not relate to how you feel about the person and it is not a crime. You are actually doing your relationship a favour by saying no to something you do not quite understand or want to invest in.”

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