Shaziya Khan: Tote of Personal Finances – Part 3: Pizza, Paisa and Opening the Box

22 Jul,2021

This is the third in our 10-part fortnightly series where Shaziya Khan focuses on the allyship of brands for financial savviness of women and girls. Link to the first two parts: Is there a Burden of Hidden Emotions Women carry in it? and What’s ‘Said’ Scratches the Surface of What’s ‘Experienced’


By Shaziya Khan


Shaziya KhanThere is a progressive attitude shift among both men and women – women and girls must be financially savvy.


However, there is a gap between the progressive attitude and current behaviour.


Allyship of brands is much-needed to help bridge the gap.


Allyship at influential points of this bridge is relevant, progressive and timely. Particularly for brands in the financial category, but also for brands across all categories to whom progress of women and girls, matters.


We’ve learnt, that women feel uncomfortable about taking decisions about “their” personal finances!  When we empathetically examine women’s journey of personal finances we see this could be due, partly, to  factors like dependency, ‘norms’ and subtle conditioning.


The well-honed, generational skills of women in  saving, budgeting, bargaining lend a natural inclination towards  prudence, thoughtfulness, goal orientation. All rational qualities well suited to financial savviness! Despite this ‘bent of mind’,  home finance experiences why are women less comfortable, less decisive about personal finances?


Guided by the truth that people hide their true emotions, we dived deep – beyond these rational factors to solve the puzzle.


Pizza, a story  

There is a pizza story that sheds light on many emotional sensitivities at play in women’s financial decision making. To buy a pizza for herself, a mother confessed, she ‘has to’ highlight ‘the child wants pizza’ and it was “allowed” as a “treat”. Else, she feared, it would be perceived as “lazy mother doesn’t want to cook fresh wholesome food at home, instead orders expensive “outside food”.


The strain of these perceptions indicates that even a small purchase by women, is carefully calibrated. It hinges on factors like dependency, approval, validation, rationalisation, role expectation, boundaries, coping mechanism, personal image etc. Often multiplied 10x in the case of larger financial decisions.


Uncomfortably mindful of creating, inadvertently, negative perceptions, for the smallest of financial requests, women tread on eggshells, emotionally speaking.


Paisa, a ‘boxed-in’ feeling

How does this pizza decision making get magnified 10x for paisa decision-making? The weight of emotional, contextual factors make her feel uncomfortably “boxed in” about personal finances. ‘Emotionally speaking’ is in a flat, dull, cardboard box. A bit like the pizza.

In a situation of ‘dependency’ on family/spouse financially, a woman treads carefully. She ‘has to’ navigate within her role, its unspoken ‘rules’. She cannot risk a negative perceptions. Compounded effect of these factors is that she has little agency to discuss, navigate, all out purse financial savviness.


Allyship to help ‘open up’

Allyship  to ‘open up’, enlighten, enhance the context for financial savviness can go a long way. When the immediate context around women’s personal finances shifts from one of ‘compression’ to one of ‘expansion’, women and girls can have more agency to pursue financial savviness. Expansive contexts matter, and they can be sensitively shaped to encourage positive ripple effects in the domain of personal finance.


Hungry to make women and girls more financially savvy? Time to take paisa ‘out of the box’ of emotionally straining factors.


Shaziya Khan is National Planning Director, Wunderman Thompson. She has won the Jay Chiat Grand Prix  for Strategy and Three WPP Atticus Global Awards for ‘Original Thinking in Marketing Communication’. Her views here are personal. 


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