The bridge of financial literacy is one of the most important in many women’s journey to becoming independent. To bridge the gap between literacy and financial literacy, chartered accountant-turned-financial advisor Neha Nagar has been harnessing the power of her social media presence to help people master their money.
In this exclusive interview with Health Shots, Neha Nagar shares how she started educating people about financial independence and why it is the need of the hour.
The switch from being a chartered accountant to creating online content
Sharing her personal journey in the finance world, Neha Nagar shares, “I did a Chartered Accountancy course but could not clear the final exam. I had read a lot about financial matters such as taxation and audit. But all this did not work, so I decided to do MBA. I got a job in Wealth Management where I was managing crores for big business persons. From there, I got an idea of starting my own business.”
“After getting thorough knowledge of taxes and finance, I started my taxation company in 2019. I first established online with the thought of expanding it later. But Covid-19 struck the world later that year and the struggle begin. That was the start of my social media journey started.”
While the idea behind Neha Nagar’s social media was to promote her business, she realised how prominent was the lack of financial awareness, even on social media. The motivation to start her journey began with a few videos which went viral, making her realise the need for making more finance-based content and helping people make better monetary decisions in life.
Women should be able to make better financial decisions
There’s a common saying that women are the real architects of society. But more often than not, they lack financial independence. While the narrative is changing, the progress is slow. In many households, women’s role in money matters may be restricted to budgeting. “I come from a village where matters of property, banking, and finance are handled by the men of the house and most women think it has nothing to do with them,” shares Nagar.
Most girls, she says, are neither involved in discussions on economic matters in the house, nor are they urged to be financially independent.
Lack of financial awareness is a product of a patriarchal society
In a society where the social and financial system is largely dominated by men, it becomes extremely difficult for women to pave their way to independence. “I am from a rural background where the opinions of women were not given much importance. Discrimination is deeply engraved in various parts of the society and women are still looked down upon and not taken seriously. When I used to visit clients for wealth management, I was not taken seriously,” says Neha Nagar.
She also points out how gender dynamics at work and at home are different for a man and woman. Talking about women quitting their jobs due to any personal reason, she says, “When a man leaves work, he is asked questions. But when a woman quits, she is appreciated rather than being questioned. The atmosphere at home and outside is almost the same. Neither are they taken seriously nor they are made aware,” she rues.
But the Internet has changed things. Women can not just earn while sitting at home, but also learn how to make the right financial decisions. If you can scroll the internet for other content, why not for finance as well, asks Neha Nagar.
Challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated financial world
When you are young and a woman, chance are you may not be taken seriously in the finance world at first. According to the influencer, the visibility of women in the wealth management field is not too impressive.
She says the government is taking initiatives to empower and recognise women in the financial sector but they are still lagging due to personal reasons. They are not able to take advantage of the facilities available to them. “I see a lot of women at the junior level, but that number decreases once you reach the senior level. This needs to change,” she adds.
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How can we reduce the gender gap in the finance world?
Lack of education about finance is where the problem is! “I come across a lot of women who don’t know that they are exempted from stamp duty or home loans. They don’t know that they can claim additional deductions. There is a lack of awareness that needs to be addressed. For example, some women completely surrender their economic rights as soon as they get married. They feel that it is not their job anymore. It is necessary for every woman to operate her bank account separately. Their saving account should be different from that of their partner,” recommends Nagar.
Further stating how women can be financially independent, Nagar asserts women should be aware of their rights and they should make their own financial plans, even if they have the support of a father, husband, brother or family.
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Nagar suggests that women should try a systematic investment plan (SIP), which allows them to invest a fixed amount at regular intervals in a scheme and it comes with a lot of benefits. “You can start investing even with a hundred or five hundred rupees. With the aim that you have to be financially self-sufficient. When you see after ten-twenty years, your money would have doubled. Here you get a profit of up to 14 percent. Whereas in FD you are being given a benefit of only 6 or 7 percent,” she adds.
Another important aspect of being financially independent is that you are able to enjoy and maintain your relationships in a better way.
How to handle the fear associated with financial independence?
Yes, hearing the warnings and listening to the news of fraudulent cases can make anyone fear the risks that might come with financial independence. To that, she says, “Risk is everywhere. Even your bank account is not safe in that sense. You don’t know when a bank fails. There is a risk involved in a fixed deposit as well. There is no need to be afraid of this risk, there is a need to understand this risk. Read your documents thoroughly, understand the market, and invest.”
Tips to invest your money wisely
Sharing some basic insights on how you can save your money, Nagar wants people to know that they need to be wiser about investing, spending and saving. “To handle your money properly, you need to know yourself. The second thing you need is to plan a budget. Apply the 50-30-20 formula for budgeting – whatever you are earning, put fifty percent of it on expenses, thirty percent on your wishes, and 20 in savings,” she shares.
“The third step is to understand your goals and plan them. Plan what you are saving money for – a house, a car, or your children’s education. Fourth, understand the market a little bit, don’t need to do much research. Even with a little understanding, you will be able to save better. And fifth, take your own financial decisions,” adds Nagar.
One message to women trying to be financially independent?
To all the women who want to become financially independent, Nagar’s message is: “You have to take the charge despite the restrictions and control of society over your finances. Make yourself aware and educate yourself. Take a vow that you will make yourself financially independent!”
(Neha Nagar is nominated for the Health Shots She Slays Awards in the Social Media Star With A Cause category. To vote for her or to review our other nominees, please click here!)