Caption: Women’s Month, August, is a reminder to focus on financial priorities.

Women’s Month: Planning for the seven financial stages in a woman’s life

From being a carefree teenager to a mother juggling parenting, work and home responsibilities, women experience various life stages. Whatever phase you are currently in, the sooner you start planning for your financial future, the more you can make the most of wonderful opportunities, and cope with life’s inevitable challenges.

With August being Women’s Month, Shafeeka Anthony, Marketing Manager of personal finance website, discusses stages in a woman’s life and related financial considerations.

This is a good time to think about what really matters to you and your long-term goals, and to consider what you’re prepared to sacrifice in order to reach them.

You may be living away from home for the first time, and even if your family is supporting you, cash is generally tight. You may also be working, but now have to factor in expenses like books and tuition fees, while there is less time to earn money. Many people get into debt now because they spend more than they receive, so drawing up and sticking to a budget is key.

Research shows that a woman spends an average R36,000 on menstrual products during her lifetime. Read about cost-effective ways to manage menstrual costs here.

Free spirit
While Covid-19 has clipped many would-be travellers’ wings, many young people are reluctant to lock themselves into a nine-to-five routine. They want to explore the world and learn more about themselves.

While you may have a carefree attitude to money now, you are more likely to fulfil your dreams if you plan carefully. Preparing for a gap year starts well before you board a flight when you are free to travel again. Choosing a low-budget destination like Southeast Asia will stretch those rands, while a paid or volunteering job will help cover your accommodation and food costs.

If you earn an income abroad, keep in mind that the South African Revenue Service still expects you to pay taxes, even if you’re also paying taxes abroad.

Find out more about what it means to be “double taxed”, and how to avoid it, here.

Your thoughts are focused on developing your career skills, or even setting up and growing your own business.

When it comes to work life, many women tend to shy away from negotiating the best possible salary and work perks. This can have a long-term impact on your ability to build wealth during your working years. Promote your career goals and, when you do receive an increase, try to grow your savings rather than spending the extra income. A rule of thumb is to allocate 50% to basic living costs such as rent, 20% to savings, and 30% to discretionary spending (nice-to-haves).

Read a JustMoney article on adjusting your budget when you get an increase here.

If you are intent on setting up your own start-up, opening a business account could give you access to value-added services, help you to track income and spending, and protect your personal assets.

Read a handy article on whether it’s time to open a business bank account.

It’s vital to communicate and ensure you understand one another’s financial goals and priorities as a couple. The topic of merging your money in a joint bank account is likely to come up, but if your partner has a bad credit record or large amount of debt, think twice.

Explore the pros and cons of sharing a bank account.

You expect to live happily ever after with your partner but, sadly, many relationships sour. It’s best to get the best legal advice possible, and to keep highly-charged emotions out of the process of arranging a fair split of your assets.

Prepare yourself by reading more about how best to divide your debt in a divorce.

This is when matters get even more complicated as you take responsibility for childcare, saving for your child’s education, updating your will and medical aid, and taking out death or disability insurance. More than ever, it’s important to get your financial affairs in order and to be practical.

Check out the best ways to save for your child's education.

Despite the fact that more women now work, many are not focused enough on saving for their own needs. This is particularly worrying as women have a higher life expectancy than men, and fewer working years due to pregnancy and raising children. Start investing as soon as you can, and take expert guidance to get the best returns. Avoid speculative schemes.

As you get older, security and safety, comfort and convenience become more important. You may consider moving into a residential lifestyle village, or putting your name down for assisted living or frail care facilities should you eventually need them.

Find out more about retirement villages and other senior living options.

“Whatever your current circumstances, the bottom line is that working out a budget, saving, and avoiding debt will stand you in good stead,” says Anthony. “Putting a solid financial plan in place will result in more resources, enabling you to enjoy your life and take care of those who share it with you.”

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