Monday, January 1, 0001

More South African women need to take better charge of their own financial matters and start saving. Referring to the results of a recent survey of Women’s Money Matters, 1st for Women’s managing director, Robyn Farrell, says women should have their own bank accounts and the autonomy to manage their finances – including deciding how they spend their money. According to the survey, 10% of SA women in a relationship have a secret bank account that their partner is unaware of. The average amount saved in these banks accounts is just over R17 000.

“The reasoning behind having a secret bank account is questionable, but the fact that these women have a bank account to which they are contributing, suggests that they are cognisant of the importance of saving, and that they value their financial autonomy. Secret or not, women should have their own bank accounts and savings,” she says.

The survey, conducted in 2012 by global payments technology company, Visa and one of the most comprehensive reports into women and money conducted in South Africa, also found that 71% of women currently have a savings account at a bank, but almost 10% have no savings whatsoever. Only 22% of respondents make their financial decisions entirely on their own.

“South Africa has a poor culture of saving and women simply cannot afford not to save. The high divorce rate, job uncertainty, and the fact that women tend to live longer than men, makes it insensible for women to relinquish their involvement in financial planning. The importance of being financially literate, maintaining financial autonomy, and putting money away for a rainy day just cannot be underestimated,” stresses Farrell.

Whether it’s due to lack of interest or knowledge, a feeling of being overwhelmed or intimidated, or the sense that it is unnecessary, too many women are illiterate when it comes to finances. The survey reveals that only 39% of women insure their household contents, 54% insure their cars, and only 25% have dread disease cover point this and a poor understanding of risk. “We should all put some time into growing our financial knowledge and understanding risks,” comments Farrell. Saving and prudency aside, she believes that women should also have the freedom to spend their disposable income how they want.

“If you are earning an income, contributing your share to the running of the household, and you have some money to spare, why should you not be able to spend your money without answering to someone else?

“When you’re earning your own money, you should be empowered to decide what you do with it, whether it is to spend some on leisurely lunches with friends, buying a new pair of shoes, or channelling it into your secret savings account,” she winks.

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