Money Money Money – NotYourWife Teamnotyourwife1214
As we approached our twenties, entered the world of work, and received salaries for the first time, we identified a massive generational disconnect in how Asian women deal with ‘money matters’. The continuation of stereotypical gender roles within households, whereby the women maintain the role as ‘homemakers’ (despite often also working) and the men control the finances, can often result in a lack of open dialogues within many households, and with daughters and mothers often left out of major financial discussions. This means that as first and second generation Asian women earning for the first time, it’s difficult to understand what healthy spending, saving and budgeting habits look like. Moving forward, we believe that true gender equality encompasses financial equality; that means talking openly and honestly about money, asking questions, and getting clued up.
We wanted to share our top tips from our own journey’s with personal finance and money matters!
(Not Your Wife is not a registered financial advisor. All opinions expressed are from personal research and experience of the writers. If you have any doubts or concerns regarding managing money, you should seek advice from an independent financial advisor.)
Budget for you, not them!
For us, we found that social media was one of the biggest drivers for poor financial health; and has ultimately skewed what financial success really looks like.
In particular, photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram can often lead us to creating a ‘grass is greener’ narrative of someone else’s wealth, livelihood, and even relationships. We get it – it’s easy to get drawn in! However, what you need to keep in mind is that these photographs are a tiny fraction of someone else’s life; it’s a highlight reel of heavily filtered, edited and curated photography. Individuals, be it friends or influencers, aren’t posting about their savings accounts, how they obtained these things nor their monthly income. Instead we see luxury vacation pictures, extravagant dinners and expensive, designer ‘couple goals’ which provide us with unrealistic expectations of what our own lives should look like. The pressure to keep up can lure us into spending beyond our means in order to ‘flex’ or seem equally as exciting as our peers; an issue that can spiral quickly and result in financial debt. Remember, true happiness is not making life look better than it feels, but rather, the other way round.
What we found was key in avoiding the dark, and expensive, side of social media, is to not take everything at face value. It’s essential to keep your perspective of what is truly real when using social platforms, or it can become a dangerous place, not just for your purse, but also your mental health! It’s vital to understand that posts can be, and often are, misleading or misrepresentative of real life situations. Remember, you don’t get to see what goes on behind the scenes, or how long it took to put the reel together, you’re just presented with the best moments.
Controlling your consumption is a useful tip to avoid being flooded with unrealistic expectations that encourage impulsive and unruly spending habits. By muting or unfollowing accounts that pull on your spending strings, and following accounts that encourage positivity, better spending habits and lifestyle tips, we become less vulnerable to the obsession of ‘catching up’. This will leave you with a more curated feed, that leaves you feeling positive, motivated and elated rather than deflated and discontented.
Remember – long-term financial success, and achieving your own financial goals will always trump the short-term dopamine rush of a few likes.
Every Girl Boss needs an emergency fund!
In many British-Indian households, the traditional ideas of masculinity are often still upheld without logical questioning or progression. Whilst masculinity can mean being courageous, posing leadership and strength, it can also more traditionally be executed through control, laying down ‘the rules’ and maintaining financial control within the household, or in relationships.
As South Asian women, we identified a huge generational gap between our attitudes and knowledge of money matters, and that of our mothers and grandmothers who have never had financial control. They don’t talk about the household money, they don’t know about it, they’ve never asked about it, and they were probably told it wasn’t their concern. In particular, in the ‘arranged marriage generation’, there’s an overwhelming imbalance of power due to the control of finances belonging to the man. Whilst in many instances, this has been tolerable; in others, it’s meant that a woman is unable to leave due to the financial implications it would have for her and her children.
We love, love, but in life, anything can be around the corner. We want you to start thinking early, we want you to ask those difficult financial questions before entering any sort of partnership, we want you to start saving as soon as you can, and even think about setting up your own emergency fund.
Every woman needs an emergency fund! Rather than waiting to see how much money you have left over at the end of the month, and saving that, we found that putting aside a set amount at the start of each month via direct debit was much more effective. That way, we were forced to budget with whatever we had left over, there was greater consistency in saving, and we weren’t tempted to spend unnecessarily.
Cook yourself rich!
Picture this, you’re in your first graduate role, elated, feeling like a real independent woman. You undertake the same morning routine; you arrive into the City by 8.20, do a 12 minute walk from the tube station and grab a venti caramel macchiato and granola yoghurt pot from Starbucks. That’s £8 before 9am – and you don’t think twice about it because, YOU, are earning!
Now…let’s fast forward to just four weeks later. That’s £160. Hmm…
Three months later, that’s £480. Ok, wait, WHAT! That’s £480 on coffee and granola. £480!
We were in a similar predicament as fresh graduates, choosing convenience foods for breakfast/lunch without thinking of the financial implications. Very quickly, however, (and after looking at how much of our monthly statements came under the ‘Food and Drink’ category!), this changed, and we learnt the true value of home cooking and preparation.
The little things, like buying a £4 Nespresso jar, and keeping at work, where the milk and sugar is free; will save you huge amounts. Try and prep your breakfasts and lunches from home even three days a week, and your bank account will thank you.
Of course, when you want to, treat yourself, or if you’re time pressured, fuel your body. But what we’re saying is – be smart – don’t throw away your cash on convenience food. Trust us, and try it for a month – you’ll find homemade coffees, breakfasts and lunches trump in taste, nutritional value AND it’s so worth seeing how much you’ve saved by the end of it £££!
Prioritize and be smart!
Despite what they say, it is possible to maintain your social life, and your little ‘luxuries’ whilst sticking to your budget, by being smart and adaptable.
When it comes down to beauty treatments, getting our nails done is one of our rituals we undertake every month in order to feel our best. As many of you know, this can become an expensive habit, quickly. Utilising apps such as Treatwell have been essential in finding amazing discounts and deals, which means we can still enjoy these luxuries whilst sticking to our budgets! We found that if you leave a review for each treatment you’ve had, you even get a free five pound discount code, which you can utilise on your next! Win-Win!
Similarly, we love undertaking fitness classes, however found that some of the trendy (and even not so trendy) gym memberships within Central London were extremely pricey! Finding out about employee discounts at work, as well as seeking out free and discounted fitness classes on Eventbrite meant that we could still continue our fitness journey’s and try new classes within our set budgets (there are some amazing free fitness events run by Sweaty Betty, Nike and event free Rooftop Yoga classes).
Socialising, particularly when it involves London based bars and restaurants, can also add up! But it’s not something that we wanted to particularly cut back on; instead we adapted. For example, if we were going to a bar for drinks, we would alternate between a pricey cocktail and a soft drink. If we wanted to attend a pop up, or event, we would look at DesignMyNight or SecretLondon for discounted tickets. If we wanted to eat somewhere fancy, we would use Opentable and identify star deals and set menus.
Also – if you do have a luxury item or splurge you want to go for, we’ve always led by the simple ‘three times’ rule; that is that you should have enough cash in the bank in order to buy it three times over.
These tips were some of the most useful as new graduates; they helped us both realise that we didn’t have to sacrifice ‘fun’ for finances, whatever your ‘fun’ may be!
Knowledge is power!
Our last tip is to never stop learning. This doesn’t have to be pricey, and there are some brilliant free and low-cost resources out there to upskill – this includes books, blogs, youtube, and even just reading the paper. What’s important though, is that you don’t just take the information at face value; analyse it, and understand if it works for your own financial situation.
Some of our favourite books and sources on managing and building our personal finances include:
– The Financial Diet Blog
– Rich Dad, Poor Dad – a great read!
– Broke Millennial Blog
– Price comparison & coupon apps such as Honey
Yeah we know, you’re probably thinking saving money sounds more like a sacrifice than something to get excited about right now; however saving for the future hasn’t got to be a downer. We want to encourage you to have fun, ultimately life is short, and whilst saving is important, so are creating memories. Essentially we’re advising you not to waste money on bad habits and impressing other people, but instead actually spend it on things that really matter to you! As said by JD Roth at Get Rich Slowly, “You can have anything you want – but you can’t have everything you want.” For example, if small luxuries and travelling the globe are important to you, that’s fine. You can still obtain the things you want within a budget, by sacrificing the things you don’t really need.
Our final piece of advice is to create a financial goal of what you’re working towards, so saving doesn’t feel like a dead end. Start by making small adjustments on how you spend, prioritize on what matters and regularly check in on how you’re doing. All in all, you’ll be reducing your financial stress in the future, which will provide a sense of financial freedom when it comes to purchasing the things that really matter. You can have it all, but just not all at once.
Both your purse, and your future self, will thank you!
By NYW Team (Kiran & Sonam)