By: Ana Claire Mancia
I will never forget the moment. I was 13, and chatting with a friend’s mother, who also happened to be the wife of an extremely wealthy, powerful Hollywood executive. We were sitting in her beautiful home in the LA Hills, as her personal manicurist scrubbed her feet. She looked me straight in the eye.
“Don’t EVER depend on a man for money. Do you promise?”
I nodded, in shock.
“Promise me you will make your own income, start your own career, and never let your husband control all your finances.”
“Okay, I promise.”
I looked around her magnificent house; the sparkling marble tile and never-ending rooms. I watched all the maids scuttling around, making sure that lunch was prepared and nothing had accumulated dust in the past hour. My gaze turned back to the woman, as she examined her soapy feet. Everything made sense now.
I never forgot her words, and still keep them at the forefront of my brain. I am determined to create my own financial success and never be completely dependent on a man. The freedoms that come with providing for yourself are indescribable. You do not have to ask for permission to spend. You do not have to worry about creating a financial burden for your partner. You can feel 100% in control of your life, economically. With that, I have devised 5 guidelines for women seeking financial independence.
1. Educate yourself in financial literacy. Understand your cash flow, and track your income and expenses.
A financially independent woman knows exactly where her money is coming and going. She is extremely knowledgeable regarding money management and can make informed decisions with her financial resources. She does not overspend, and she documents her monthly cash flow.
2. Identify your goals and set your budget.
A financially independent woman has clear goals in mind. For example, perhaps the goal is to buy a new car. She sets her budget around those goals and manages her money accordingly. She takes responsibility, and understands that some sacrifice may be involved in order to reach those goals.
3. Eliminate any debt.
Eradicating debt should be a top priority. A woman cannot be financially independent until all debt is paid off.
Further reading: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-easy-ways-to-pay-off-debt
4. In your relationship, maintain a level of equality in terms of financial responsibilities.
Chances are, one partner will earn more than the other. That is completely okay. The most important thing is for both people to contribute what they can, and not to let the relationship be one-sided. Be honest and open with your partner, and split up the living expenses in a fair way. Find a proportion that works for both of you (ex: 60-40). However, there is an equal level of control. The most important concept is to avoid being completely dependent on someone, to the point where you are helpless without them. A financially independent woman holds herself accountable and is a valuable contributor.
5. Learn to save and invest – early!
Plan for the unexpected by starting an emergency savings fund. Learn about the different securities you can invest in such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs. Ask someone you trust to help you understand savings vehicles and how to save/invest intelligently.
The more comfortable you become with these terms, the easier it will be to achieve financial independence.
About the Author:
Ana Claire Mancia is a UC Berkeley student planning to major in Business Administration and Political Science. At Berkeley Women in Business, she is on the Communications Committee and regularly writes blog posts for the organization. She is extremely committed to gender equality and the elimination of violence against women.