It’s hard to be content all day, every day, all the time. While single men and women are often looking for partners, couples wish to be ‘un-coupled’ from time to time – but what remains constant regardless of the marital status is the security that financial independence provides.
“Focusing on financial goals isn’t just about investing money, it is self-investment,” believes 21-year-old Nishtha Mukherjee, a communication expert from Mumbai. She feels “Financial independence is an absolute necessity in today’s time and people are now prioritizing it over everything. It’s no longer about saving for your retirement or insurance; it’s about living a life that makes you happy.”
Like Mukherjee, many youngsters have now shifted focus from relationship goals to financial goals and independence. The present age is more individualistic and people are more self-oriented, which is why they wish to live on their own terms and explore their life’s goals. Dr Jyoti Kapoor, senior psychiatrist and founder, Manasthali, points out, “Financial dependence puts people under an obligation to others, whether it is children who then have to follow their parent’s wishes, or women who are expected to follow their husbands’ decisions. Roles and duties have always been defined in our society based on who pays for sustenance or protects a clan or community.”
You’ve ‘earned it’
Whether you are single or in a relationship, financial independence takes precedence over everything, because it gives you the freedom to make decisions. “No one can tell you what to do if you have earned it,” says spiritual coach and wellness expert Devina Badhwar. She says, “A woman always had a voice, she was just afraid to use it. Women are as ambitious as men and they don’t have to depend on their family or possible future partner for financial support. Youngsters today are ambitious and driven. They have the freedom to pursue their dreams, and plan their future on their terms.”
Single parenting on the rise
Women in India have been largely seen as someone who manages the household and takes care of children and the elderly. Even today, a working woman is expected to do the same household chores as were traditionally done, despite having the same working hours as her husband. “The other belief that is deep-rooted in the Indian psyche is that men protect women from other men, and so, to stay safe, a girl needs to belong to a man, be it as a daughter, a sister, a wife or even as a mother. These subconscious impressions make single women feel they can’t do justice to a child’s upbringing single-handedly even if they can pay for children’s education and upkeep. Similarly, men are not trusted to be able to clean or cook for children or help with their emotional development,” says Dr Kapoor.
“With a better understanding of the requirements of parenting — not just financial stability but the ability to contribute to a child’s emotional and social needs — individuals want to adopt and bring up young children,” she notes, but adds, “It will still take a while before our society develops enough faith in its members to allow adoption by single people to become the norm.”
When individuals prioritize financial independence, they also secure social independence. Rahul Subramaniam, director at Florence Capital, shares, “Aspirations are on the rise, and young people are increasingly intent on quality experiences, seeking lifestyles that resonate with their beliefs and values. In addition to independence, women also obtain greater respect from family members if they possess an independent source of income. In India, where patriarchy has been entrenched for generations, women who take control of their finances also end up taking control of their lives.”...