x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

On the Money: A woman's financial planning work is never done

With more than a billion women in the global workforce, It's time for us to wise up to our financial responsibilities.

Gary Clement for The National
Gary Clement for The National

Traditionally, most women don't really like to talk about money. Many of us were taught by our mothers and grandmothers that discussing finances was rude and something polite girls should feel embarrassed about.

This led us to believe that having a lot of money was more a matter of luck than good management. Some women were born into it, while others married it, but either way it was best to keep quiet about it, correct? Absolutely not! Those days are now over. With one billion women entering the workforce, the female financial force is set to dominate the next decade in what many experts now refer to as the "She-conomy".

Women will not only be the chief financial decision makers in the majority of households, but they will also be earning more. Indeed, a growing number of women are already out-earning their husbands and, in fact, in the UK, the number of female millionaires is forecast to surpass the number of male millionaires by 2020.

The gals of Generation Y are set to dominate higher education and professional careers and, while many of today's career women will become mothers, there's a growing trend for mums to find a better way of working through their own small businesses.

At the other end of the spectrum, it's a fact that female baby boomers will outlive their male counterparts by six to nine years and women will be faced with managing inheritances from both their parents and their husbands.

In short, women are getting wealthier. Women will be the spenders, the drivers of the economy. Yet, most women will also remain the primary caregivers, even with a job, meaning family responsibilities will inevitably shape our attitudes to money.

We have to be smart. Everyone will be targeting us for a piece of our money pie, so we must be money wise and take our financial future into our own hands. Did you know, for example, that many female pensioners live in poverty and that the average retirement income for women is just over half that of single men? It's certainly true that in retirement, many women won't be able to afford the lifestyle they enjoy today, which is why we must prepare.

It is our responsibility to ensure that the money we make today will be working for us tomorrow and that we have enough to last our lifetime. Living in an expat environment such as the UAE and given our variable working patterns and the lack of pension funds behind us, we simply don't have the same financial resources as men.

We have our savings and if we don't have those, we have nothing. So we have to make a plan. Now. Some lucky women are raised to be sensible about money and others have to learn the hard way. As money is a finite resource (until the next paycheque), we have to get the most out of it. To do this we need tools and guidelines to get us on our way without making us reach for the snooze button.

This was the rationale behind writing my blog, Women, Money & Style. I left a well-paid job in retail design to become a stay-at-home mum. With a lower income and budgets to consider, I soon realised that I had to educate myself in the world of finance. I waded through a deluge of wealth literature, most of it aimed at men and containing very little useful information that spoke to me as a woman.

Women, Money & Style was born with the simple purpose of empowering women to design their destiny by knowing what they want and being more financially aware on the journey. It aims to address the hot topics around female financial freedom in an emotional, practical and engaging manner, through the eyes of four expat women living in Dubai.

I hope my blog will spark conversations on a wide range of topics on finance and well-being - from budgets and savings options, to dealing with divorce, wills, insurance, getting the look you want for less and cutting unnecessary waste so you have more to spend on the things you truly love.

Today is a wonderful time to be a woman, especially earning a tax-free income in the UAE and, with the right financial knowledge, we can look and feel fabulous, have money in our wallets to spend on ourselves and our family, and have enough put aside so that we have money in our wallets in the future.

It's not rocket science; it's actually quite simple. But we do need to take action, to get money wise and to be prepared.

Janelle Malone is a wealth commentator, writer and author. You can read her blog at www.womenmoneyandstyle.com. Felicity Glover is on leave and will return next week