A Money Mistake that cost me dearly

Mar 03, 2022

Who I Am

  • Name: Ritushree Panigrahi
  • Gender: Transgender Woman
  • Pronouns: She/Her
  • Profession: Lawyer. Stand-up comedian. Corporate speaker. Queer rights activist. Co-founder of The Outcast Collective, a DE&I and POSH consulting firm.
  • Social Media: Twitter

My Money Story

If I had to draw an analogy, my twenties were like a breezy and sparkling river, full of zest. Occasionally, bouts of water overflowed on its banks; all over the place.

I battled through gender dysphoria for decades. I resonated with Egyptian transgender activist Malak al-Kashif’s words, “my struggle with the mirror” phase. Years of asking Who am I, really? It is a battle no one can fight for you.

(NHS describes gender dysphoria as the unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.)

When I did finally come to terms with who I truly am, I mustered the courage to come out.

After coming out to my family, friends, and society at large, I decided to opt for gender affirmation surgery. Gender affirmation surgery refers to procedures that help people transition to their self-identified gender.

But the treatment is a costly affair. Insurance companies do not cover the cost of gender affirmation surgery. Unfortunately, I had no savings to fall back upon.

This is when I realized the importance of saving for a pre-determined goal. So right now, that is my financial goal towards which all my savings are being channelized.

My Money Mistake

When I listen to young adults talk about savings and investments, I am conscious about the fact that I missed out on disciplined savings when I was starting out. I was living in the here-and-now.

When I was young, investments were the last thing on my mind. Let alone investing, I was not even saving anything. Later in life, I struggled through a lot and fought hard to make a living. I started working and began to earn substantially well. But I also lived it up. My earnings were used for luxurious indulgences.

I always figured that there would be a time later to invest. Added to that fact was that there was no one to guide me or tell me how to go about it or even start.

When it comes to investing, capitalize on the NOW. However small the amount. Once time is wasted, it is lost forever.

As a transgender, I fight battles on various fronts. The monetary aspect is an area that could have been in my individual control to a large extent. I wish I knew about its importance when in my twenties. It would have made my life so much easier.

On March 8 is International Women’s Day. The theme for 2022 is #BreakTheBias.

At the heart of it is the idea that individuals coming together can change the way the world works. So we at Morningstar approached women to talk about their money stories.

There is power in sharing authentic stories from a diverse range of women. Some stories are brief and to the point. Others have a much more descriptive narrative. There is no little story, big story or frivolous story. Our individual actions, behaviours and mindsets have an impact on our larger society. We inspire and empower, and reveal possibilities to those who identify.

A cloak of silence benefits no one. It is time to #BreakTheBias.

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