Staying at home with the kids, working full time, or working like I do from home with an occasional visit to the office are easily the biggest and toughest decisions that a couple has to take on. Being a working couple means juggling a number of stress-inducing issues. My husband and I are a typical working couple but to add to the mix we are also both completing masters degrees while caring for our 9-month-old son. It gets busy.
The reality is all kinds of work-life-parenting options are challenging but below are some insights into the financial and emotional factors that need to be considered when choosing whether to stay at home and work or stay at home and look after the kids.
You will need to plan for medical care
Perks associated with corporate full-time employment in our home countries concerning medical insurance and the like may not be accessible at the best of times while working in Beijing, never mind when starting a family and choosing to stay at home. Quitting your job will reflect directly on your medical insurance, particularly if your current job offers insurance for the entire family. So, if you choose to give up your job and stay home, carefully study the impact of medical insurance on the family.
This is as equally as important when working from home. Medical insurance varies from job to job and the type of insurance you have access to may be affected by the number of your contractual hours when working part-time and or whether or not you’re working from the privacy of your home.
Your savings will be impacted
Suddenly turning into a single-income family can affect your savings in a major way. Even with adjustments in lifestyle, savings will take a hit. As a freelancer and business owner, this was ever more true for my family and me. While a lot of it will depend on how big the second income that you are foregoing is, anything earned between RMB 16,000 and RMB 20,000 could impact savings by 40 -50 percent. Consider cutting down on certain amenities to save money.
You will need to cut down your entertainment and holiday budget
Apart from savings, travel, and vacations make a huge dent in any budget. These are luxuries that unfortunately may need to be shifted to the back burner of your priority list. However, a single-income doesn’t mean hibernating at home, doing nothing; there are a number of adjustments that can be made.
– Pay more attention to the fine print on your plastic and take advantage of travel deals and freebies that you and the family can cop from your credit cards.
– Change your travel destinations and/or activities. We, for instance, have chosen cheaper destinations, staycations, and day trips.
Your future plans will see an impact
There may be a shift in your future family decisions if transitioning from a double to single income household or working part-time or full-time at home on a reduced salary. The decisions that may be impacted may include, buying a house to having another baby. Many future goals are dependent on your savings, which usually decrease when starting a family and replenishing your savings may take time.
Evaluate the cost of daycare or nanny versus keeping a second income
When I first contemplated returning to work while being pregnant, it was difficult to quantify being away from my newborn. Fortunately for many expats in Beijing, the prohibitive day costs in many of our home countries, as well as the cost of a nanny, are factors that are not typically problems for families, because of the affordable child-care options here.
An ayi (nanny) typically costs less than half the amount it would to hire someone full-time for care for your child in your home country and can provide flexibility for you to slowly return back to part-time or full-time employment, when the dust has settled and you’ve found the ideal ayi for you and your family.
However, depending on the amount of the second income you may be trying to maintain, it may not be worth hiring a full-time stay-in-helper for your child. These are very personal decisions and dependent on family structures. Think about the incurring expenses once you get pregnant and alternative options such as smaller side jobs that can provide extra income while taking a hiatus from a full-time job.