You see, I'm only human, and like everyone else, I benchmark against other people. I try not to, but seriously, that's the only way to take some form of indication of how you are doing in life.
So when I see other people progressing in their lives, it gets to me. Slightly.
I try to brush it away as everyone lives their own life and makes their own choices and at the end, you only answer to yourself when you die. But it still gets to me every once in a while.
As I say, I'm only human, and in Singapore, everyone compares and since young we always compare so it's hard to get it out of my brain logic.
So I see people around my age who are doing well with their lives, good jobs, bigger houses, cars, trips, toys, etc. And I'm thinking, what is my contribution to my family, to my wife, cos she's working and contributing financially. I'm not living off her finances but nonetheless, I think of this as a total contribution kinda mentality. As in, each of us should be making the lives of each of us better by the things that we do.
Example, even though I do not live off my wife's finances, her contribution to the total assets allow us to have more confidence of our financial state in future.
So I've always wondered, have I contributed anything when I'm unemployed to our overall well being?
So once again I looked around for comparisons. Hey, that's the only way to benchmark right. And I observed our lifestyles against other folks who had both parties working and realized the differences. And I personally feel that it is a very big difference.
We have a lot of together time to do stuff.
So I look at other couples who both work, live away from their parents, they may or may not have kids, they may or may not have a vehicle, they are in a fair enough financial standing, not too rich or in any financial difficulties.
Which is basically any regular couple.
So what did I notice. With some cost benefit analysis.
Well, I do most of the house work. The house is vacuumed, mopped, clothes are washed, hung, dried, ironed, toilets are washed, I buy the groceries, cook, etc.
Obviously, I make little financial contribution.
There is some financial contribution.
Savings from cooking at home, monitoring of deals, credit cards minimum spend, etc. Don't think it's worth nothing. It's worth something. Really. It may not be worth a lot, but there is SOME financial value
What we get in return, we feel, is that we have a lot of free time.
When she gets home, there's no chores to do. She eats, we clean up and just laze around watching TV or whatever. On weekends we wake up and think of where to go for breakfast and spend the day out wandering and taking a walk and come back in a mid afternoon to rest and watch TV or surf some internet. We do not take afternoon naps on weekends.
So when I asked around with other couples, I realized that they usually don't eat home cooked meals (duh), they go home and do some form of chores, laundry or what not, weekends, they usually have to run some errands or take an afternoon nap to recharge.
Now naturally, there's no right or wrong with this. It's a trade off. I make little financial contribution as mentioned earlier.
Another variant to this is a couple can both work and hire a helper with all the chores. Which essentially means, I'm taking up the role of the helper. Of course I could be working and earn more money and hire a helper and save the rest. Once again, there is a trade off here. Cos the problem has now been switched from having to do chores, to now having to manage a helper. And if you've ever managed anyone before, it's not particularly easy having someone live with you and do chores to your standard.
So everything has a trade off. As I looked at our lifestyle, I realized that to compare apples to apples, we needed to look at how others could match our lifestyle of free time vs financial gain.
So our situation is
Single income, one party unemployed who does the chores, lots of free time on evenings, weekends and public holidays. Sufficient finances for fair entertainment/savings/etc.
Other REGULAR scenarios which would be fair comparisons
1) Dual income, no helper, not much free time, a lot more finances.
2) Dual income, hire a full time helper, lots of free time, a lot more finances, probably some issues with handling the helper.
3) Dual income, hire a part time helper on weekends, some free time, not much issues with handling the helper but need to stay in on weekends when the helper is around.
Here are probably the better scenarios, but they are not the regular things that people do.
1) Single full time income, another party part time income half day work, half day chores, lots of free time on evenings, weekends and public holidays. More finances for better entertainment/savings/etc.
(There's a high chance I'll try to move into this scenario.)
2) Dual part time income, lots more free time on everyday. Sufficient finances for fair entertainment/savings/etc.
Well as I always say, it's a trade off, there's no right or wrong, everyone has his own wants and desires in life, some want to reach a high career level some are ok with cruising along. Some want more some want less, it's all a trade off and about what makes you happier. Everyone has their own options and capabilities so to each their own.
Anyway to get back to the point of the post, am I contributing something to the family? I think, YES. The thing is there are many intangibles with being unemployed and that itself is my contribution to the family.
Hmmm... another way to look at it is that I AM already EMPLOYED as a full time helper.
Cos I know of a couple with the following situation.
-Single income, one party unemployed who does nothing, hire a full time helper, lots of free time, not much finances, probably some issues with handling the helper.
So if you're in my shoes, or thinking of being semi retired, don't think you're not contributing. Cos you are, as long as you are contributing to the family in other ways it's still a contribution in the total well being of the family. As long as overall, the family isn't financially strained by your decision.
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