What a woman can teach you about financial planning

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On a rainy evening in the Mumbai suburb of Goregaon, 40-year-old Sushma Patel sits on her balcony sipping her favorite masala chai. Reminiscing about her late husband, a smile lights up her face. “I married my first love, you know.”

“In Ashok, I found the perfect partner” she says.

Both Sushma and Ashok belonged to middle-class Indian families and after marriage, their double income meant they could travel the world and also buy their dream home. College sweethearts Ashok and Sushma married early. As a young couple, they set off to pursue their joint passion of travel and photography whenever they had time and resources. The birth of their daughter, Rohini, helped put things into perspective. As responsible parents, they put a financial plan for her education in place after her birth. Sushma calls it their smartest decision so far.

Both Ashok and Sushma had always been smart with their money; they saved as much as they spent. After Rohini’s birth, the couple bought a house in north Mumbai.

“Parenthood made us even smarter”, she laughs. They also got alife insurance plan, as Ashok was the primary breadwinner. The plan would pay a lump sum amount of Rs. 35 lakh to his family after his demise.

Little did the Patels know that they would need these investments sooner rather than later.

“Two years ago, the unimaginable happened and I lost Ashok to a stroke,” says Sushma with a faraway look in her eyes.

Life is unexpected and has its own way of surprising us. We often realize how unprepared we are only when a calamity strikes. For Sushma, life took a sharp turn after Ashok’s demise.

Sushma became the main provider, and had to take all the decisions for the family. She used the life cover amount that she received to pay a large portion of her outstanding home loan. Rohini’s educational needs were met by the interest earned on her education fund.

But that didn’t end Sushma’s financial worries. The insurance payout took care of the outstanding liabilities, but did not leave her with enough money to meet household expenses and future expenses like her daughter’s marriage, or her own retirement. When they had purchased the insurance plan, Rs. 35 lakh seemed adequate. However, they hadn’t accounted for future goals and liabilities before buying the policy.

Had Sushma and Ashok selected the right insurance plan with a higher sum assured that would cover both liabilities and future expenses, Sushma would be in a better situation today.

While buying a life insurance policy, it is recommended you choose a life cover of at least 10-12 times your annual income. Young couples, or even singles, should buy an insurance plan that will leave a financial cushion for their family in the future. If possible, both spouses should own a policy. Life cover should be revised on special events like birth of a child or loan taken for a home. If needed, it should be increased to ensure sufficient financial security.

“We live in times of uncertainty and the only way we can secure our future is by planning for the long term,” says Sushma.

 

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