Sunday, 12 June 2016

Feminine Financial Planning

I'm ambivalent about advice on investing. On the one hand, I don't want to prop up the markets with my money when I'm reluctantly more and more convinced by Marxist feminist arguments that women are materially oppressed through capitalism. (Rather than articulated as heterodox in discourse, as my postmodern leanings suggest.) 

On the other hand ... I was on my way to teach once, when a bloke came up and asked if he could have the Money section of my FT Weekend. Now at that time, I never read the Money section, automatically assuming it had nothing in it I would be interested in. I focussed on the How To Spend It magazine. (I adore this magazine because it doesn't have things in it I can afford to buy. I can safely browse through it, saying to myself: "Gosh, diamonds are so unfashionable, what a good thing I haven't got many. This is a pretty feather cocktail dress, mmmm - only £1,785.00!") Still, I resented the fact that the guy took one look at me and articulated me as someone not likely to be checking out how her stocks and shares were doing.

Like many women, my pension provision is laughable. However, I'm used to living on an income that is similar to the state pension so not working and still earning the same amount seems quite attractive to me. Recently I noticed articles in the FT Money about pensions (unsurprisingly - the British pension system is a complete mess). I started flicking through that part of the paper and I found a lot of pertinent writing in it. I shan't drop my moral stance about capitalism and the oppression of women, but why let it oppress me personally more than I need to. Capitalism is unfortunately unlikely to be superseded in my lifetime, so I had better sort out my pension sooner rather than later.

I was rushing around last week doing womanly mumsie things - and some work - so I didn't manage to get my act together and take advantage of free financial planning meetings offered by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment during Financial Planning Week. Also, I really wasn't sure these are meant for me - surely they are designed for people who actually have money to invest?

This advert might be more appealing to Scottish widows 
than the Scottish Widows adverts? Well - rich ones,  
the investment example is for £100,000.00.
In a strong article, Claer Barrett in the FT Money argues that this mistaken belief and other reasons lead most women to avoid exploring good investment options. (Why do most women fear the stock market?) Another reason is our habit of sacrificing our needs, financial as well as other, for our children. This is a shortsighted view, though. If we do not put aside for our basic needs as we grow older, who is going to have to pick up the burden of making sure we can live a dignified old age? I don't want to have to fib to Piglet and pretend I have got plenty to eat when she visits me at weekends, I want to take her and her children out for a slapup meal. I don't want to have to ask her to stump up for a decent care home if I start to get a bit forgetful and need supported housing. 

Incidentally in the following week's FT Money, Meryll Somerset Webb argued that once women earn more money, they do tend to invest it in higher risk ventures. She advised the finance industry to take the beam out of its own eye and employ more women in higher paying roles in order to resolve the issue of gender and low risk investment habits. (We social scientists are always explaining to students that there isn't necessarily a relationship between correlation and causation. If fewer women are investing in high risk financial products, this may not be because they are women, or have a more self-sacrificing parental instinct. It may be because more women are lower earners so women have less money to risk.)  

I didn't take up a free financial planning meeting. However I might have a look at one of the Open University's free MOOCs on personal finance (You and Your Money), then go on to see if there are others which could give me a better understanding of investment funds and pensions. 

I just have to finish the washing up first, and send off some emails about a workshop presentation for which I will be paid quite a small sum of money.  

If you have very small savings, the best way to start your pension may be an ISA. Although I'm not sure if this would benefit me, as I pay so little tax that a tax-free savings account is probably not going to do much for me. 

My best investment wasn't in a buy-to-let property but in my own home. Buying a very small leasehold property outright instead of a larger house with a mortgage means that I have much more of my monthly income available to me, as well as a happy feeling of peace and security about the four walls round me and Piglet. I don't suffer from cashtration: the act of borrowing money to buy something very large, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period. 

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