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The Significance of Financial Literacy


Aarti Tibrewala Darooka


A chartered accountant and MBA, Aarti is an entrepreneur and financial literacy advocate. She has over 15 years of combined experience in the consulting, advisory and travel industries. A national ranker in CA, Aarti is a published author, who has written a plethora of books for children’s financial education and is currently helping build awareness for financial literacy for women through her platform, Sthreedhan.

 

Komal is the eldest daughter-in-law in a joint family. Her father-in-law runs a grocery store while both her husband and his brother have been working full-time jobs. Her husband is an engineer while her brother-in-law in an accountant. Due to the nature of their qualifications and their professions, her brother-in-law has been handling financial transactions beyond routine business for her father-in-law.


The year before last, her father-in-law wanted to invest his savings into a number of mutual funds and an additional property. The family felt it was a good decision as this would enable her in-laws to get a steady income once her father-in-law shut down his grocery store and retired. When they were in the process of helping him figure out how to execute his plans, her brother-in-law was obviously the one in charge and had an upper hand in decisions. This was fine by the family as they all had respect for his knowledge and there was no reason to distrust him.


Komal herself had completed her CA Inter but had not been able to clear CA final. So, while she was not working anywhere, she would keep herself updated on matters related to the finance field and also invested her husband and her own money in the stock market and mutual funds. She also had a good working knowledge of some basics of wills and property matters due to the experience gained while doing her CA articleship.


When the final forms were being filled up and cheques being made for the mutual funds, Komal noticed that her brother-in-law had put in his name as nominee on all the investments. She realized that not only was this unethical but it was also against her father-in-law’s wishes who had clearly said that he wished to divide his assets equally between his two children. Initially, Komal was hesitant to bring up the matter but she finally worked up the courage to mention this to her husband.


Initially her husband was upset with her and told her that she must be mistaken and that there was no way his brother would do something like this. He also felt that since his father had a will which mentioned the terms of settlement of his estate equally between his sons, the nominee would not matter. Komal explained to him that firstly, she was not mistaken and the only way to confirm this would be to check the forms. Secondly, she told him that while he was right regarding the superiority of the will over the nomination, it could cause unnecessary confusion and fights later on. He finally relented and agree to check the nomination papers.


When they checked the nomination papers, they realized that Komal was right. Her father-in-law was quite livid with his younger son about this betrayal but it was discovered before any harm was done. They rectified the nominee to reflect her father-in-law’s true wishes and it was done carefully for all matters henceforth.


This is not just Komal’s story. While one may think that if we have a full-time job that allows us to make enough money or that if we are not the primary breadwinners of the family and are not making any money from external sources, we should not interfere in financial matters of the family, it is not an excuse for financial ignorance. While Komal’s husband was the source of external income, his being ignorant about the financial matters of the family could have caused a huge loss to him and his immediate family. Similarly, although Komal was chiefly a homemaker, her financial awareness and alertness helped her avert a problematic situation going forward.


It is important to keep yourself updated on basics of finance and practice financial best practices no matter who you are and what your employment profile. It is important to be aware of your environment on all matters, especially financial. After all, as Dave Ramsey said, money moves from those who do not manage it to those who do!


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