We all start off young and get older, but what we choose to do in between is ever more flexible; we may move in and out of education or employment, even marriages, childrearing and geographies. Each change impacts psychologically, emotionally and, crucially, economically. The more flexibility and control you have over your finances, the more readily and painlessly you can make the necessary adjustments to suit.
Independent Women’s unique Six Stages of Women’ programme acknowledges every woman’s journey – its twists and turns, ebbs and flows are natural (if not predictable), but they all need to be managed financially as well as emotionally.
1. EDUCATION – Life is one long learning process. Sometimes it’s on-the-job training from the university of life, but other times it is a formal, structured experience that requires a commitment of time and money. There is no hard and fast rule – it can full or part time, on-site or correspondence, work-related CPD, essential, beneficial or just indulgently enjoyable. It may come at any point or time in your life. For the youngest, it is often accompanied by the excitement and trepidation of first bank accounts, first credit cards and first experiences of real money management.
2. BUSINESS, CAREERS and DEVELOPMENT – Whether joining an existing business or striking out on your own, this is a critical aspect of many women’s lives. Women are set to be ‘the greatest single force in economic recovery‘. Promotion, career breaks, career changes, re-training, starting a business, going self employed, returning to work after children, running a business, all have financial implications and you need to make sure that the ‘job at the job‘ goes alongside the ‘job at home‘.
3. BRICKS and MORTAR – Whether renting, buying, selling, or investing, contributions to bricks and mortar are likely to be your biggest financial commitment and the financial ramifications of these decisions should not be underestimated.
4. MANAGING RELATIONSHIPS – The authors of ‘Women Want More‘ (BCG 2009) found that, of 12,000 women questioned globally, 77% valued love as most important to them, with 57% voting for health, 51% for honesty and 48% selecting emotional wellbeing. They’re all crucial, of course. Marriage, separation, divorce, co-habitation, civil partnerships and bereavement in particular create enormously significant financial implications for women.
5. SUPPORTING DEPENDANTS – A ‘significant other‘ is of course, only one of the myriad relationships that form part of a woman’s life. 77% of women manage the household tasks of personal administration and this often extends to children, stepchildren, relatives, elderly parents, neighbours, friends and communities. The caring responsibilities and issues involved change and flex throughout a woman’s life and place different financial pressures upon them.
6. RETIREMENT PLANNING and THE FUTURE – It’s never too early to start planning for whatever you want this to look like. Women are generally under-prepared and catered for in terms of pension planning. The earlier you get to work on this, the easier it will be to balance the demands of now with the needs of the future. Plus, we don’t have a crystal ball and we never know what we are going to be doing, so the stronger your financial plan, the better placed you’ll be to react, respond, recover or re-launch yourself.