In todayâ??s world, it is essential that women know how to manage their money, but sadly, this is often not the case. Many South African women believe that once their prince on a white steed comes along, they can expect a future of security and will be looked after for â??happily ever afterâ?. In financial circles this is called the “”Cinderella complex”” and is not a guarantee of financial stability for the rest of their lives.

Almost 50 percent of marriages in South Africa end in divorce, and women outlive their spouses by seven to 20 years on average; just look at all the retirement complexes that are bursting with sprightly octagenarians. This means that a third of their lives may be spent in retirement. Many husbands donâ??t leave enough to provide for a retirement period of this length, something that widows only discover after the loss of their spouse.

Plan now for your financial future

In the past, women were comfortable to leave their retirement planning to their companies, but more companies are expecting employees to manage their own pension as well as medical aid funds. Women need to learn to take risks and study their investment options. This will ensure a secure financial future. 

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Financial planners will tell you that you will need R1-million of capital for every R5 000 of monthly income that you require. Many financial advisors believe that you will need at least R6-million for a comfortable retirement, but preferably more. Consult a financial planner to find the best way for you to grow your money to provide for a comfortable future. 

Women must educate themselves to manage their money

Historically, although women may have been the ones who controlled the day to day family budget, like shopping for food, clothing etc, the big decisions like how the home loan payments were made, and where the savings were invested, were often left to the husbands. Many women never had to sign a cheque, fill out a sale agreement or apply for a loan. If they found themselves suddenly single, this was a major financial crisis. Today, educating ourselves to manage our money wisely will empower women to survive a sudden loss of spouse; a traumatic event in itself which does not need to be compounded by financial worries. 

Learn to save and invest those savings

Even if you are relatively young and happily married, you need to start analyzing your bank statements to see how you are spending your money, as well as understand how you are married and what rights you have over your joint assets should your situation change. Many women who live with the bank accounts in their husbandâ??s names, find that these accounts are frozen if he dies, and they have no access to any funds while the estate is being settled. 

Investing and saving must be looked at as complementary. Decisions made now will affect our future. Finding ways to cut back on your spending, living within your means, and therefore being able to budget for your retirement, will determine the standard of living you are able to offer yourself and your family in the future.