With the baby on the way, it’s time for us to start making the call on how long my wife will go on maternity leave. More importantly, what will we sacrifice if she did not go back to work. This got me thinking about how much we would sacrifice if she was at home full-time. Working will take up a lot of her time (that she would rather spend with our kid) and we needed to know whether it is time well spent. Once I went down the rabbit hole, I couldn’t believe what her work costs us.
Transport and fuel
The obvious saving is fuel. At this stage, she drives about 45 km to work, which is averaging R3 500 per month. When I bought our house, I had not met my wife yet and bought it close to my work. So, my commute is only 6 km per day.
The question is whether we would even need a second car if she stopped working. On days when she needs to go somewhere, I can just Uber to work. If I had to do this 2 times a week, it would cost us less than R1 000.
In return, we would get an additional R100k to invest. At 10% interest, this would be a monthly income of R830 in the first year. The maintenance cost of R1 200 per month would also fall away. Even the insurance cost would be reduced by R820 per month. In total, our transport costs would be reduced by R5350.
The daycare down the road from us charges R3 800 per month, which I suspect is more or less going rate for our area. My mom works at the daycare so it will be nice knowing there is someone I trust keeping an eye as well. If my wife stayed at home we would not need to send him to daycare. Now exactly how important it is for kids to interact with other kids for social development at a young age, we can debate later.
Since our days get hectic sometimes, there isn’t always time to prepare meals. We end up eating out often or buying ready-made food. My wife really likes cooking so would enjoy it if she could do it more often. It will also save us a lot of money, especially since I like running across the road for a Woolies lunch. I estimate that it would reduce our budget for eating out by about R1 000 per month. I don’t know what baby food will add up to, but I suspect preparing this will also reduce costs slightly.
We have someone helping us clean that comes in twice a week. She is like family, so reducing her hours would be difficult for us. However, it will be an option to ask her to assist one day a week if my wife spends more time at home. With the baby adding to the workload though, this might not make sense. This can be a potential saving of R900 per month.
Income after work costs
These work costs allow us to calculate what my wife is really earning for the time she spends at work and commuting to work. If I subtract the work costs mentioned above from her monthly salary (and thirteenth check) and divide it by the total hours per month, she is earning about R38 per hour. She really enjoys teaching, but I feel that it is a profession that is not paying people fairly for the amount of work they end up doing. If she did online tutoring or did the books for a few companies (she studied accounting), I suspect she could easily make up the deficit from home.
We end up exchanging time for money, so it is important to make sure that the money is worth the time. Continuing to work will mean missing out on some key moments in our kid’s life. There is also the concern that she might need to take him to the doctor at short notice and will need to drive an hour to get back. These are all factors to consider when making the final call.
Since she enjoys teaching, our main other alternative is finding a school closer to home. With a bit of luck, schools in our area might even pay slightly more.
While it will always remain difficult to make decisions like these, analysing the work costs will at least quantify the problem for you. Take the time to make sure that you are optimising your earnings. It might make sense to move closer to work or change companies if you are not happy at your present employer. Ultimately you need to make sure that your job is not costing you more than you are willing to accept for your time.
Be safe out there,
Quote of the week"Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?" – Edgar Bergen Click To Tweet
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