Born and bred in a family of riches, fame, and a legacy spanning generations, Soha Ali Khan’s warm candor is highly refreshing. She lights up a room, even a dimly lit one. Adept at articulation and standing her ground, I was so swept off by her charm that I forgot to perform the little curtsy I had planned in advance. I had a chance to catch up with the Pataudi princess at an Airbnb event, where we discussed money matters, independence and a few anecdotes about her interesting travel journey so far.
ELLE: What does financial independence mean to you?
Soha Ali Khan: Financial Independence is everything because without having your own money, it’s very difficult to make your own decisions, and what is independence without being able to do that? And even as someone who has come from a position of privilege, and economic security, it was very important for me to earn my own money. And I know for a fact that it has enabled me to live a more independent life, to make my own choices, to make my own mistakes as well, which are very important in a learning curve. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Try and educate yourself in terms of how you can invest your money and how you can let your money earn money for itself.
ELLE: Are there any women from your family who’ve inculcated in you the importance of being financially independent?
Soha Ali Khan: Yeah, I mean, are there any who haven’t? My mother has been the breadwinner in the family from a very young age, she started working when she was 13. And I think that has definitely shaped my approach towards my life. I was very keen to study, which is a bit of a departure from the norm in my family because not everybody went to college. But I wanted to do that. And I’ve always been more academically oriented than perhaps other family members. And then films were a little bit of a googly because the plan was to do something else. But then of course, you follow your heart. And again, the whole idea of becoming independent and educated is that you make your choices. So I would say definitely, my mother is one of those very strong women. But also if you just look back into the history of Pataudis, you look at the fact that there were more female leaders, from the noble family than others, and they were all invested in education.
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ELLE: How do you keep your finances in check? Are there any apps or budgeting methods you prefer?
Soha Ali Khan: There is the traditional khata with your pen and paper that you sit with, in confidence of your staff every day and say, “Okay, where are we in terms of the monthly ration?” And that is something that I’ve seen my mother do, and continue to do every single day, even though I’m sure that they’re more modern ways of going about your household expenses. I do have apps that track my investments. You know, the idea is not to depend too heavily on people, you need to know where your money is and how it’s doing. One of the apps that I use is called Mprofit. And that has a consolidated look at all your assets across the board, whether it’s mutual funds, stocks, whatever you’ve invested in etc. The other thing is to know and have an idea of your expenses. And perhaps keep in your account at least two months worth of your expenses.
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ELLE: When it comes to tips for having ‘the financial talk’ with one’s respective partner, is it ever awkward? How can we as women be more assertive and transparent when approaching the topic?
Soha Ali Khan: I would say that it is always awkward, you know, money can make things awkward, because you don’t want someone to misunderstand you. Even with friends, that’s why you say it’s difficult to do business with friends. I’m the kind of person who wants to be very transparent and very clear and say, “Okay, this is how we’re doing it.” When it comes to partners, I think you have to figure it out. A lot of people like to have a joint account and separate accounts. I think it’s very important to have those awkward discussions to say that, “Okay, these are our expenses through the year, the school fees, and there’s electricity and their staff expenses, there’s food expenses that average out to so much in a year. This is what I’m going to look after, this is what you’re going to look after and these are our common bills, and this is how we’re going to tackle them.” So I think that’s important.
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ELLE: What were your most memorable trips with Airbnb?
Soha Ali Khan: I’ve had two very good experiences. One was a lovely house in the middle of Madrid, great proximity, furnished very nicely, very comfortable. And the other one was, in fact, just last year, when we went to London. It was the first time that we stayed in a place there which was not our home, because we’ve always stayed in homes in London. We had a really nice experience, again, staying somewhere central in a really nicely furnished place. We already knew in terms of experiences what we wanted to do, but in terms of cooking and having the amenities that you would have in a home, it’s made more comfortable for a family.
ELLE: What are the destinations on your wish list for 2023?
Soha Ali Khan: South America is a continent I’d like to explore. I’ve never been to Cuba and I would love to go. I also want to go to Kashmir. I’ve been there when I was very small and Kunal is actually Kashmiri. And then, there’s also the Northern Lights. I want to have new experiences. So ideally two kinds of holidays in the year work best, one where you go somewhere to just unwind and relax and one which is a cultural experience, which you learn and you go somewhere new.