Deciding to become a stay-at-home parent can be a big decision. If quitting your job doesn’t make you jump for joy that you’ve achieved your dream of becoming a “tai tai”, chances are you’re a little worried that your household will now be a single- rather than dual-income one. Add to that the fact that stay-at-home mums like housewives often find themselves left high and dry with no CPF savings to speak of and you’ve got a recipe for potential disaster.
Still, Singapore’s working environment has a reputation for being brutal, with long hours of face-time being par for the course. If you’re not about to put your kids in childcare or leave them with a maid or in-laws, bowing out of your job might be the only solution.
Here are some ways SAHMs can improve their finances while still being able to mind the kids sans maid.
Get a flexible or freelance job
While spending long hours in the office is impossible for stay-at-home mothers who still have to mind young children in the day, there are some jobs that can give you a part- or full-time income without all that office time.
Some of the viable options include becoming insurance agents or freelance writers. You would be able to enjoy some flexibility and not having to show up at an office every day, while still keeping your children at home.
For instance, one of my friends who’s an MOE teacher and just gave birth to a boy is planning to become a full-time tutor, rather than pull 12 hour work days when she’s got an infant to look after.
Become a mumpreneur
Starting your own business might seem like a huge risk when doing so entails quitting a high paying job and ploughing your savings into a new venture. But if you’ve already decided to take the plunge and spend most of your days at home, having a side gig suddenly looks a lot more viable.
Being a mumpreneur doesn’t necessary have to mean setting up a multi million dollar business (although it can if that’s what you want!). But for those who don’t have as much time, even a micro-business can go a long way towards giving you an income.
For instance, I’ve seen quite a few SAHMs on my Facebook feed get into sewing kids’ clothes for profit, or importing products like contact lenses from abroad to resell here. Check out this list of mumpreneurs elsewhere on the island.
Invest your savings even as an SAHM
You might’ve made the excuse that you were too busy to get into investing when you were working, but when you’re staying at home and are no longer drawing a salary, it’s crucial to invest what you do have, whether it’s income from a previous job or ang bao money you’ve stashed away
While I have friends who have managed to make a full-time living trading at home, those with a lower risk appetite can still earn some investment income, for instance by buying dividend stocks or investing in index funds or REITs.
Make sure your husband buys insurance
If your husband is the sole breadwinner, you need to be sure that you and your family will be protected if something should happen to him and he is no longer able to work.
While life insurance might not be a prudent choice for all people, such as those with no dependents, if you’re a stay-at-home mum with a brood of kids to look after you absolutely need to makes sure your husband as the breadwinner is insured. Use MoneySmart’s life insurance wizard to pick a policy if you haven’t already.
Work from home under a flexi work arrangement
Okay, let’s admit it, most Singaporean employers aren’t ready to offer remote work positions. But if you’ve got a good relationship with present or past employers, you might be able to broker an agreement that allows you to work from home most of the time, on a part-time or even full-time basis.
Employers such as Banyan Tree and Citi Group now have flexi work arrangements such as job sharing, where you can divide your responsibilities with another coworker, which is perfect for SAHMs with children in kindergartens who is trying to transition back into having a full-fledged career.
Another alternative is to work on a freelance basis from the comfort of your own home. Piano and tuition teachers are the most obvious examples, and just two or three students can earn you quite a decent side income.
I have a friend whose mum has been tutoring students from home for many years, while at the same time looking after her grandkid. It does take time to find students, though, so start doing it on the side before you pop.
Do you know of any other ways housewives can make money while minding the kids full-time? Tell us in the comments!