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Being financially independent is a mindset that many women are aspiring to, particularly those in relationships. If one thing is certain about life, it’s that we just don’t know what’s around the corner.

While your job, or your partner’s career is secure today, tomorrow it could be a different story, and often that can lead to a complete switch when it comes to who’s bringing in the money.

To achieve financial independence and importantly have the right mindset, here are 11 things that every woman should be aware of.

1. Earn your own money.

Unless you are very wealthy in your own right, it is very difficult for women to achieve financial independence if you aren’t earning any income.

2. Don’t drop out of the workforce.

Many women will take time off to care for children and loved ones, but keeping a foot in the door, even if only part-time, can greatly enhance your income earning potential, not to mention help your skills stay relevant and grow your network.

3. Know your financial situation and be in control of how you spend.

That includes understanding how much money is coming in such as your weekly/monthly expenses, and how much is going out.

4. Know your good from your bad debts.

Good debt is often used to help build long-term wealth and bad debt can erode that financial security. For example, taking out a loan to study a course that will eventually lead to a career and provide you with a decent income is a good debt, but a credit card or personal loan with a high-interest rate that applies to a depreciating asset such as a car is considered a bad debt.

5. Have plans in place to be actively paying off your debts.

This could include your credit card, which could have an interest rate of up to 20%, and your home mortgage—even if it is considered a good debt with a lower interest rate.

6. Understand that renting is okay but owning a home could be better.

If you don’t own a home, there’s nothing wrong with renting. But be aware that paying for any accommodation, whether it’s rent or a mortgage once you reach retirement age and are no longer working, can be very expensive and drain your savings.

7. Have a plan for investing.

You might consider holding other assets like a share portfolio that can provide you with income via dividends.

8. Ensure you have an equal say in relationship/family money decisions.

Be realistic about periods of financial dependence but don’t undervalue your voice. As a women in relationship, there may come times when you need to rely on a partner for financial support. This can happen at various life stages and even unexpectedly if you are unable to work for medical reasons.

9. Engage with your superannuation.

Log into your account and get to know how much you have and what your fees are, as well as your insurances, investment options, returns and nominated beneficiaries. If you’re not happy with what you see, take control to change it.

10. Take control of your finances by researching your options or seeking help.

In this day and age it is almost too easy to do your own research on financial products such as finding the super fund or cash saving account that meets your needs. And if you can’t find the answers yourself, then seek professional advice.

11. Don’t ignore your rights.

Never sign yourself up to a payment plan or a contract without reading the fine print and fully understanding how your financial security may be impacted—for better or worse.

Bianca Hartge-Hazelman is a columnist on women’s money matters and is the founding publisher of Financy and the Financy Women’s Index. This article represents the views of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the views of AMP.

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