Question: Hi Rose, would you be kind enough to give me your insights on our situation?
1.Should we pay off our debts first and continue to live with my in-laws? or
2. Should we move out and be on our own while we pay off our debts?
I guess my husband and I didn’t have a good start with our finances and we are facing the consequences now. We both decided that I become a stay-at-home mom and it is such a joy. But I’ve always wanted to run my own home. I’m very intentional and organized and I like it when I serve my husband while I raise our kid. But since we live with my in-laws, I’m limited only to taking care of my baby. Many would trade places with me since I don’t do the cooking, cleaning and other household chores. Before the helper came, I did all those. But now that she’s here, the load has been lifted off me. However, I’ve been depressed lately because I feel bored. I have a very strong desire to run a home, what every stay-at-home mom needs, right? I want to do the grocery, cook meals, arrange the furniture and raise our kid without in-law interference. They are kind and loving parents but there is interference in the sense that they let my kid watch tv, they feed her anything, sometimes not healthy, etc. In short, they spoil my baby.
I just want a peaceful home where I can be purposeful and accomplished, despite the demands of the day. I want to serve my husband and talk and hug him at the end of the day.
My husband’s goal is to pay off our debts first and save up for our Emergency Fund, which is the right thing to do. Probably, it will take two to three years. I think I will not be able to wait that long. Ngayon pa lang nga, na-de-depress na ako. In the next two to three years pa kaya? – Teresa via FB
Answer: Hi Teresa. I feel for you. When a woman gets married she really looks forward to actualizing her dream life with her husband – build a beautiful home, raise her kids, serve her husband, devote her best years to raising the best family she can have, all according to her taste.
Unfortunately, you have a debt burden to unload and you’re estimating that it would take two to three years to do so, and this early you’re already bored and depressed. Boredom and depression make a bad formula for raising a family and I’m tempted to say “Get out of there and save your sanity!” You know I’m a believer that “there can only be one queen in a household.” and this early all my sons already know this. However, let me point out some talking points for you and your husband before you make that decision.
1. Basis for the 2-3 years debt repayment timetable. Do you have an amortization schedule that’s known and clear to both of you so that you are partners in paying them off?
2. Household expenses. Have you made a detailed list of all the things that you’re currently spending for now? How about another list of expenses that you will incur if you lived on your own? Rent, utilities, food, telecommunication, medical, helper’s salary if needed, etc.? Your projected 2-3 years of paying off your debt might end up 4-5 years or even longer if your additional expenses would eat up all the cash that you’re using to pay off debt right now.
3. Accelerate debt repayment. What was your old job? You already know by now that I’m all for focused and undivided attention in rearing our children. But with all the help that you’re getting from your in-laws and the helpers, is there a possibility for you to earn and help repay the debt? If you can practice your expertise at home or even outside but on a limited basis, maybe you can take care of your child while you earn and help accelerate debt repayment.
4. What else can you do? I had a co-parent who used to drive her son to and from school and when they hired a driver, she felt a bit useless. Maybe you are feeling a little bit of this right now. With all the household chores already covered coupled with your being a purposeful and organized person, you’re probably feeling “useless” in the sense that you cannot practice all these homemaking skills of yours. Why don’t you volunteer to take care of one aspect of maintaining your home? Do you love cooking? Why don’t you take care of that? Plan out healthy meals week after week. This way you also get to control the diet of your baby, and yours too!
5. Is there a part in the house that can be devoted to your family?Sometimes all you need is to have your own room and kitchen and you can already enjoy the autonomy of having your own home. This way, you can be lovey-dovey with your Honey without being conscious that someone is looking. You can plan your own meals and other activities without interference. In other words, “you have your own household in the same house.” Just bring your baby to lolo and lola at certain times of the day. This is a win-win situation because you have your autonomy and you also have your in-laws on stand-by who can look after your baby if you need to go somewhere. You know this is one very important ingredient in raising young kids. When we started our family, we stayed in an apartment next to my sister-in-law who had a home-based business and who could see what was happening to my young boys while we were away. When we decided to build our own house, we chose a place near my parents’ house, which gave us the peace of mind to leave our little boys at home when we needed to travel knowing that my mom could easily go to our house in case of emergency. This advantage of staying close to a relative is priceless.
6. Where is the boredom and depression really coming from? I know you already gave the picture why you’re starting to get bored and depressed, but just maybe, there may be other factors at play here? Try to understand what’s happening in your life right now. Search deeply. What are your thoughts and feelings, your dreams and aspirations when you were still single? What’s happening in your life right now? With your family?What makes you happy? What makes you sad? Are you watching too much TV or staying online mindlessly? What are the things that you’re grateful for? Write them all down in your journal. This way you’re able to fully understand what’s going on inside you. I have a whole chapter on being a housewife in my book Raising Pinoy Boys, see Be An Exciting Housewife. The danger is in getting out of your in-laws’ house to be on your own, only to end up feeling the same.
With all the talking points and reflection guidelines, maybe you would come to realize that you have more than just the two choices you stated at the start of your letter. You will see that there is an in-between solution. For sure, you need a “re-boot in your system” in order to arrest boredom and depression, but this does not necessarily have to be moving out of your in-laws’ house immediately. Maybe you can check out no. 5 if you can have that place. Maybe you can do no. 3 and shorten your waiting period. Get hold of no. 1 so the timetable is more concrete and your waiting will be more manageable. Do no. 4 and 6 so you experience a significant and positive change that can take away the boredom and depression. And watch your no. 2 like a hawk so you can build your Emergency Fund right away.
I hope I was able to give you a useful framework to address your situation. I suggest you “re-boot” as soon as possible. With your being intentional and purposeful, I know you will be able to get that dream family life in no time at all. Update me.
1. I will speak at the St. Paul Pasig in their event My Profession, My Passion, My Service to Nation on October 16, 2015
2. I will speak at the ADMU John Gokongwei School of Management during their JGSOM week on October 30, 2015.
3. I will speak at the 6th PANA (Philippine Association of National Advertisers) Foundation IMC Youth Congress on November 27, 2015 at the Philippine Trade Training Center, Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. cor. Roxas Blvd., Pasay City.
Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon. Her new book is the Filipino version of the latter entitled Ang Muling Pagsasalaysay ng Ang Pinakamayamang Tao sa Babilonya. Click this link to read samples of the books. Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is also the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards.
Attribution: Images from cliparthut.com, 123rf.com, wpclipart.com put together to help deliver the message.
This article is also published in PhilStar.com and RaisingPinoyBoys.com.