Financial Planning for Women

Financial planning – the term in itself refers to making of concrete plans to improve your financial power. Now, unlike what some people may think, financial planning is not at all difficult, all you need is to be aware, think and calculate. After all, financial planning is a mathematics, which is rational and as simple as 2 plus 2 equals 4. So fear not, here are some tips, plans and some do’s, also some don’ts.

Now, here, I shall be taking you through some great investment and planning channels, plus some tips for planning your expenses well in advance. Financial planning for women involves handling two primary aspects related to personal finance, expenses and investment. When you receive your paycheck, there are two things that you can potentially do: one, use the money for essential expenses; and two, investment the money. Note that common savings is also included in expenditure.

Planning for Expenses

Personally, guys no offense, I believe that since women are capable and do manage one of the most difficult institutions in society, that is their family; they are better at handling expenses (not through credit cards), than most men. This was not a compliment, but a fact.

So, principally, about 20% to 40% of your income is going to be spent on essential expenses, food, clothes, make-up and cosmetics, rent and commutation. Now before the month starts, calculate and estimate how much you would spend on each item. Also you would need to include some expenditures such as a couple of parties, sleepover and hangouts while doing so. Some of you may have medical expenses hence consider those too. Listing these out was the first step, next analyze and make a list for identifying the expenses which you can cut down. If you look, observe and think properly, you will notice that, except for things such as food, rent and medication, you can cut down on almost everything.

The third step is to make a table of budget with 22-30-31 columns (covering days of a month), whichever is appropriate. In this table, write down the expenses that you have estimated and throughout the month try to stick to them. This can be quite difficult and also quite easy. Since sticking to the budget is not always possible and some unexpected expenses tend to come up, one can always put away certain amount of money as a backup fund.

Planning for Investments

After you have paid off all your expenses, you can turn your attention to investments. Again this can take about 30-40% of your income. The following are some excellent options which you can use.

Life Insurance: If you have a family, then this is the most important investment for you, as a life insurance not only pays off all the returns on investment, but there is a death benefit which is available which ensures your family’s financial security and well-being. You can invest up to about 10-15% of your income in such an insurance policy.
Funds and Securities: Mutual funds, variable annuities, Systematic Investment Plans (SIP), Collective Investment Schemes (CIS) and other mutually invested funds are medium risk investments. Here you have a 5-7% return on investment along with the total amount that you invested initially. This facility is termed as guaranteed minimum returns facility. Apart from the minimum returns in such schemes, you also receive the bonus and portfolio performance returns, which chiefly depend upon the portfolio performance and also economic conditions. Again this can take up about 10-15% of your income.
Government Provided Investments: These are the most secure of all as investment options. Channels such as IRA, 401(k), government bonds and certificates tend to provide a good rate of return that accounts to about 5%. Such investments will take up even lesser than 5% of your income.

You can also consider some options such as real estate, direct share investments, gold, silver and bullion and futures and options. However, such investments are quite risky and worst of all you have to invest a lot of time in them. Apart from that it is also recommended that you maintain a 30% balance in your bank account as a safety precaution. Now, all you have to do is plan accordingly and choose the right expenditure and investment.

 

How to Financially Survive the Wedding Season

Research suggests that attending one wedding can leave you $500 lighter (spending on yourself, your clothes, the gift, and other miscellaneous expenses). And this does not include travel expenses in case you have to travel to another city for the wedding. While insurmountable expenses are inevitable for the couple headed into wedded bliss, for the guests attending the wedding, the day(s) can be saved. You are obviously going to have to shell out a few bucks for the gift, your attire, and the parties before and after, but these can be controlled significantly by one simple measure – planning! Head into the wedding season without a plan, and you won’t know what hit your savings. On the other hand, a little planning, even though it may end up with you going slightly out of budget, will keep you within spending limits and help you get through the wedding season financially. To make a plan, consider the following questions:

How many weddings have you been invited to?
How many weddings do you absolutely HAVE to attend?
How many involve the same group of guests?
How many people are you close to among the guests?

Why is this important you ask? So that you can prepare a budget, your wardrobe, choose a gift, and make travel plans accordingly.

Is Attendance Necessary?
Bombarded with too many invitations? Choose the weddings you genuinely want to attend above the ones you know you could give a miss. You don’t have to feel guilty for missing someone’s wedding. Wouldn’t you rather spend more on your buddy’s big day than for someone you’re not so close to? Just politely decline the invitation at the appropriate time so that the couple can make arrangements accordingly.

Dress Up or Dress Down
Most of us end up spending a lot of money on clothes for the wedding of someone we may not be very close to. But there are ways in which you can look your best at a wedding without having to make a hole in your pocket. Consider the following factors when deciding on your outfit for the event.

The Venue:
This will decide whether you are going to wear a simple, light floral dress, or a designer cocktail dress; a pair of linen pants and a simple, light shirt or a formal suit, and how much you technically have to spend.
Can You Repeat your Outfit at Multiple Weddings?:
This is possible if the group of guests attending one wedding are unlikely to be present at another wedding. This makes it easier for you to repeat your outfit. (Of course, you may have to deal with being tagged in multiple pictures on Facebook in the same outfit.)
Can you Borrow?:
So if you know that the same group of guests will be attending, or if you can’t stand the thought of being tagged in the same outfit at different weddings, consider exchanging outfits with your friends so that you have something new to wear without having to spend much.
Your Closeness with the Couple:
You are expected to dress in a particular way if you are closer to the bride or groom or both of them. For a wedding where you aren’t so close to the couple, you may tone it down a little and save some bucks.
Mix and Match:
If you can fish out a good skirt and accessories, then all you have to do is find a good blouse. Or if you have a simple dress, you can jazz it up with a good belt and a nice pair of shoes. If you find the right jacket, you can get a good shirt and trousers to go with it. Sometimes even a good tie can make all the difference. If you can find even one item in your closet, it saves you that amount, and you get to sport a unique look at every wedding.
How Good You are at Doing Your Own Hair and Makeup:
This one is specific to women. If you aren’t good at it, learn from online tutorials. There’s no way you can survive the wedding season on a budget if you go for professional services all the time.
Why not Rent Your Outfit?:
If you can’t afford to buy a different outfit for different occasions, you don’t have clothes that you can mix and match, and you can’t wear the same outfit at different weddings, rent your outfit. You’ll find it at half the price as compared to retail stores, and can hence save a lot of money.

What about the Gift?
You just can’t go to a wedding without a gift. But there are lots of things that count as gifts and don’t cost too much. Try out these ideas.

Rush to the Gift Registry:
If the couple has signed up at a gift registry, try getting there as early as possible to get the good and the less expensive stuff for them.
Chip in for a Bigger, Better Gift:
This is why you need to know lots of other people who will be attending the wedding. Get together and buy a gift that will truly wow the couple! This way you don’t have to spend too much money, yet you get to give them a great gift!
Make Something Yourself:
If you are really close to the couple, and you know they will appreciate the effort, make something for them yourself. Use your knowledge or learn how to do it through the Internet, and give them your love and affection through your handmade gift.
Offer your Help/Services as a Gift:
If you think you can’t afford expensive gifts, offer to help the couple with the wedding arrangements and ensure that they know this is your gift to them. For instance, if you know people and can pull strings to get one of the many things they badly want for their wedding (such as a particular decorator, a band, or even an ice sculpture at a discount), this could be a perfect gift for them. Also, if you are involved in the planning, you can help save the couple’s and your own costs in certain areas, e.g. if it is a destination wedding, you can get bulk discounts by making bookings for the entire group.

When the Wedding is Out of Town
This is when it can get real difficult. While some couples are generous enough to make arrangements for all their guests, there are some that can’t. In such a case, you’re left to fend for yourself. How do you make the most of this situation?

Chip in for Bulk Discounts:
Yet another reason knowing other people attending the wedding can help. Bigger bookings help get better discounts. It’s as simple as that.
Be the Early Bird and Save:
The sooner you make your bookings, the cheaper they will be. This may not be feasible for everyone, but if you can travel on an off-peak day, you can even save flight costs to a certain extent. Lots of websites offer packages at discounted rates which you can make the most of in the financially burdening wedding season.
Stay with your Friends/Acquaintances:
If you know someone in the place you are traveling to and who will willingly put you up for a couple of days, you my friend, have struck gold and saved a LOT of money. Of course, remember to repay your friend/acquaintance with a nice gift, or offer to do the same for them when they come to your town.

The best way to avoid getting hit unawares in the wedding season is to plan, and to save. You have to keep some amount aside if you know weddings are coming up and you just can’t avoid them. Finally, don’t let the expenses bog you down. Just go and have a good time at these weddings and give yourself a break!