SUNDAY TIMES - How financial independence can secure a woman's future
Sunday Times Opinion By Dineo Tsamela, 2017-03-12 00:00:00.0

How financial independence can secure a woman's future

GENIUS, POWER AND MAGIC: The theme of this year's International Women's Day, celebrated annually on March 8, was 'Be Bold for Change'.

This International Women's Day was themed "Be Bold for Change". While there are plenty of women blazing trails and making changes in the corporate world, we still have a long way to go to close the wage gap and have more financially independent women.

In South Africa the problem is particularly pronounced, given the high number of women breaking their backs to make ends meet while heading up households as sole breadwinners.

With the levels of inequality we have in South Africa, it is crucial that women who are able to make adjustments to their finances do so to secure a better future.

Paying particular attention to the following areas of your life can be greatly beneficial in the long run.

Keep a close eye on debt and your credit score

It's important that you don't get to a point where your debt is overwhelming and it starts having a negative impact on your finances. Remember that your credit score is your key to securing finance for a big-ticket purchase such as a house or a car.

Separate money and love in relationships

Be proactive about protecting yourself and your money if you're in a relationship, and maintain a level of independence when it comes to money.

Knowing that you have a financial plan is important for your security and sanity. Do not leave your financial wellbeing to your partner.

Plan for retirement

Your financial plan should never discount retirement.

Women tend to live longer than men so it's vital for you to plan well ahead. Stay in contact with your financial planner or financial adviser regarding the progress of your investments.

You don't want to get to retirement age and not have enough money set aside simply because you didn't adjust your retirement contributions during your working life.

Make sure that your will and estate are up to date. This is another aspect of your financial planning you simply cannot leave to chance - especially if you're a single mother.

Invest in yourself - beyond simply putting money aside

Invest in developing yourself by furthering your education and learning new skills.

If you don't have the funds to tackle a degree, you might want to start with short certificate courses that can give you a step up in terms of earning potential.

If you're in the fortunate position where your employer is able to pay for your education, use the opportunity.

In some cases this may come with retention agreements which may limit your options in terms of moving jobs, so be aware of any conditions.

You should also invest in your network - the people you know in the field you intend to work.

Social media is one way of getting in touch with industry leaders without having to go through difficult personal assistants or dealing with unanswered e-mails.

These connections are great ways to secure jobs or contracts - depending on your field of work.

Be proactive and bold about your financial wellness.

It doesn't matter where you are on your journey, it is never too late to begin.

The quote goes: "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." Part of unlocking magic in your finances lies in the genius of taking control of them and using the power that gives you to make prudent financial decisions.

• Follow the author of this article, Dineo Tsamela, on Twitter @DineoTsamela