Rashmi*, a 38 year old housewife, lost her husband to a cardiac arrest. An untimely demise of her husband left her shattered. It took her a few months to come out of the grief and let the reality sink-in. She was now on her own and had to take care of her 2 young kids as well. Soon she realized that even after 10 years of marriage, she had no idea about the family’s finances. Her husband had provided everything that they needed but unfortunately, never told Rashmi about the financial planning he had done to secure the family’s future. Ironically, leaving them in the same position he didn’t want them to be in.
Surprisingly, this isn’t a one-off scenario. Today there are more than USD 2 billion stuck in unclaimed insurance money in India. Primary reason is that the families never knew about these policies. As a patriarchal society, managing money has been considered a man’s job and managing home a woman’s job. This reflects in the abysmally low participation of women in workforce as well as in financial planning of the family. It is alarming that women are not even made aware of the planning their husband has done for the family.
Extent of unawareness
To understand the financial awareness & preparedness among women, we conducted a survey with urban married women in India. The women were in the age group of 25 to 60 years with a combination of working women and housewives. The results were startling, even for women who can be considered generally well-off & educated.
- 56.5% women either had no or limited idea about investments done by their husbands.
- 54.5% women didn’t know details of Life Insurance Policy their husband has taken. 7% didn’t even know their husband had a policy or not!
- 45% women weren’t aware about health insurance policy of the family.
- 41.2% women admitted that they will NOT even be able to locate them in case their husband isn’t around.
Such unawareness about financial planning of the family is even more worrying in the context that women are more likely to spend a few years of their lives without their spouse. Biologically they have a longer life-span than men and they typically marry a man who is a few years older to them.
Reasons for the unawareness
33% of the financially unaware women feel that their husbands are lazy or don’t have time to share this info. Since we are always occupied with various things, sometimes the seemingly ‘not-so-urgent’ matters get on the back burner.
Another major reason is awkwardness around talking about death & inheritance. 35% women feel uncomfortable talking about these things with their husbands or aren’t sure they will understand these things.
15% women in the survey also said that they didn’t think knowing about finances of the family was very important or said that they aren’t interested in it.
Contrary to the common perception, 95% surveyed women felt that they can manage things like insurance renewals, claims etc. on their own or with some help.
There can be multiple reasons for women not being involved in financial planning of the family. Some of it is due to the biases of the society. Others due to the simple fact that spouses must distribute responsibilities in a marriage to manage various aspects of taking care of a family. Leaving financial decisions to husband can be a conscious decision but not being aware isn’t a great position to be in.
Overall women empowerment is a much complex problem to solve but building awareness about the family’s financial planning can be achieved. Conscious effort from both the spouses & proper tools at their disposal will make it easier. ‘ Sorted’ is an effort in that direction. It is an AI based app making it extremely easy for the users to manage, share & keep track of important information & documents, automatically.
Snehanshu leads Product & Strategy at Sorted AI. He is an IIT Bombay & ISB Hyderabad alumnus. He has more than 12 years of experience in consulting, operations & entrepreneurship. He loves to run and is a proud owner of a Golden Retriever.