Money, budgeting and financial independence tips from the founder of LXME, India’s first financial platform for women only
- Meet Priti Rathi Gupta, a financial feminist and the founder of LXME, India’s first women-only financial platform.
- During her time in the financial planning sector, she discovered that women take the backseat in this topic and decided to establish LXME to bridge the gap between women and finance.
- As part of our Money & Me Series, we spoke to Priti to understand her relationship with money as well as how she is imparting her knowledge for the financial betterment of others.
How and why did you start LXME? Also, why a women-only platform?
Coming from a family of chartered accountants (CA), I am the odd one out. Having said that I initially registered to pursue CA, I could not complete it.
After getting married at the tender age of 19, I only managed to finish my graduation (although with flying colours!).
When I returned to my books after giving birth to my two wonderful kids, I obtained an MBA from the SP Jain Institute of Management & Research and then pursued Executive Education at Harvard Business School.
I then joined my family-led business, Anand Rathi Group to start the commodities desk as well as the currency and forex advisory business.
During this time, I studied and experienced the gap between women and financial planning. Discovering the lost opportunity shocked me.
About 12 years into the business, this gap only seemed to widen, with more men coming into the gamut of the financial services, and a broader exclusion of women.
From women friends to colleagues, I saw a similar behavioural pattern. Watching them compromise personal and professional choices because of their fear of financial insecurity, was the cue for me to start thinking about creating a platform that could help them adopt this life skill.
I made it my life’s mission to educate women about investing. To that effect, I founded LXME, India’s first financial platform for women with the aim to inspire a wave of financially fearless women to actively manage their money and achieve their dreams.
Today, LXME is a fast-growing robust community-led financial management, planning, and education platform for women. A talented, skilled, and passionate team of women back and run this innovative platform.
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
In my early years, I watched my grandmother do the financial planning for our house, which she did with sharp acumen.
While capital markets were in a nascent stage, her options to grow the money saved were limited, but I watched her benchmark interest rates, making use of the power of compounding!
My parents had a minimalistic lifestyle and they taught us that every penny saved is a penny earned.
Moreover, managing money had no gender-specific roles in my house.
During my adolescence, I watched my father not just earn money but also wisely invest for asset and wealth creation, a strategy that my mother was always on-board with and played an equal part by being a pragmatic spender and astute saver.
Money management was a skill taught through practical application. At a very young age, I was responsible for keeping track of our household spending and budget.
As soon as I came to college, I started interning with my father, where I learnt all about building, managing and monitoring stock portfolios for the family.
We were always made aware of our financial situation, the family financial goals and our money behaviours were always aligned with those of the family.
What is the key difference between men and women in terms of the way they handle money?
Honestly, women have the right attributes to make a successful investor.
Goal- and detail-oriented as well as disciplined, we take calmer and less emotional decisions than our male counterparts. This may be by some standards called conservation, as our style is more passive investing and diversification in order to mitigate risks.
Women invest with a wider goal of investing back in society and for the better future of their families.
What would you consider as overspending?
When it comes to daily spending, what we often overlook is the cumulative effect of small purchases on our monthly or even yearly budget. It is thus important to be aware of small expenses to avoid overspending without realising.
These daily expenses could be eating out regularly or getting your favourite coffee.
If you have already accounted for this spending in your monthly budget, it will not affect your balance. However, if you have not, these spends may add up to a sizable amount at the end of the month which you may not be prepared for.
There is nothing wrong in spending on things you need or even want - the key is to budget for them. You can use budget planners like the LXME Planner and various others available to keep track of your daily, weekly and monthly expenses.
With so much online shopping targeted especially to women, what is your advice to women?
Sleep on it!
If you still feel like you need it when you wake up in the morning, then buy it. If not, forget about it. This is something I do personally and trust me; it helps!
Avoid emotional buying, create monthly budgets and stick to them.
Many women have career breaks for various reasons. Do you think they should keep money aside so they can be financially independent when the time comes to take a career break/sabbatical?
Yes, of course. A break means a certain period without an income, which is bound to disrupt regular savings and investments.
Additionally, it is difficult to come back from a break after a few years. This makes it crucial for us to plan our finances carefully and start investing early.
We need an emergency corpus on hand and be financially prepared so that such breaks do not throw our financial planning out of gear.
Any general advice on savings and investments?
Absolutely! I would like to list my tips as follows:
- Be aware of your earnings and expenditure by maintaining a budget.
- Set achievable financial goals.
- Establish an emergency fund.
- Constantly upgrade your knowledge.
- Create multiple sources of income.
- Pay your debts on time.
- Start building a retirement fund.
- Get adequate health and life insurance for yourself as well as your family.
Stick to a budget and start investing at least 20% of your salary as soon as you start earning, even if it is as little as ₹500!
Follow the 50:30:20 rule, which states that a maximum of 50% of your earnings should go to your unavoidable needs and expenses. A maximum of 30% to your wants. Lastly, save and invest at least 20% for the future!
Lastly, what do you wish women, in general, knew better about how to manage money?
Women have differentiated financial needs, earning potentials, career peaks and breaks, longer life expectancy as well as a different approach and mindset towards financial planning.
It is thus imperative for women to take charge of their money through smart planning and investing best suited for their needs.
Financial planning, money management, and investments have traditionally been male-dominated and -oriented. Even with women excelling in all fields of life and becoming increasingly independent, their financial planning still takes a backseat and men of the family handle it themselves.
I wish women knew they are great at money management because they are!
Women are already great at saving money; they can invest efficiently and grow their money. It is important to take the first step by breaking the mental blocks: ‘it’s so risky’, ‘it’s not my cup of tea’, ‘what if something goes wrong'.
There is a first time for everything! Take small steps; chart out a financial plan with all your money goals and decide when you want to achieve them.
Read, learn, ask other women about their financial planning journeys and then start with a small systematic investment plan (SIP)! This is why we created the LXME community - a safe space for women to ask, learn and share about money management and financial planning experiences.