Deepa Shenoy Rathod, 35, who works as the leader of the product team in an insurance company, always had the clarity that she won’t quit her job, whatever happens. So unlike many other women who end up taking a break from work when they have children, Deepa plans to join work after her maternity leave gets over. Deepa gave birth to twins in September 2019—Vivaan and Vaani—and is currently on her maternity leave.
Like most other women, she was advised by her family to be prepared to choose between work and her children, but she is convinced. “I have put in a lot of time, effort and energy to reach the place where I am today. For me, my career was always as important as having a child,” she said.
Deepa is not only fiercely protective about her financial independence, but also wants to share the financial responsibilities of her household with her husband. “We had taken a home loan four years ago. If I had to quit the job, the entire responsibility would have rested on my husband. With two children, it will become more difficult to provide for all the expenses with a single income,” said Deepa.
Even in a double-income household, it’s important to prepare for future expenses after the birth of children. Deepa and her husband understood this quite clearly right from the start. “We prepared ourselves by starting mutual fund investments through systematic investment plans (SIPs) as soon as we decided to have children,” she said.
But Deepa is careful enough to not channelize all her savings towards her children’s future expenses. She invests in Public Provident Fund (PPF) as well but wants to keep that kitty for her retirement.
Kartik Jhaveri, director, Transcend Consulting (India) Pvt. Ltd, a financial planning firm, advises women to invest separately for themselves in order to remain financially independent.
“In order to remain financially independent, women should start saving aggressively for themselves as soon as they get a job, whether they are married or not, so that they can have financial independence after having children in case they need to quit their jobs or take a sabbatical,” said Jhaveri. Even if they don’t take a sabbatical, it’s important for them to secure their future.
Deepa is in a demanding job as she heads a team. However, what helped her plan her maternity leave and her comeback is clear communication with her organization. “I communicated with my office clearly about my plans to have children, this helped me as they were accommodative about the leaves and breaks I took from work. I also accumulated my leaves so that I could extend my maternity leave,” she said. The company provides for six months of maternity leave, but Deepa is on leave till May.
But not all women may have that option. Therefore, Jhaveri advises women to be ready to change their jobs or look for other options. “Women should be open to change their jobs and join an organization which provides flexibility. They can choose to work from home or opt for a part-time job as a consultant,” he added.
Deepa also thinks that with two incomes, the couple will be able to afford household help to take care of her children. “We would have needed help anyway, as it would have been difficult for me to manage two kids. With me continuing to work, it was easier for us to afford help,” she said. Being financially independent lends you confidence and the way Deepa is handling her situation clearly shows that.