How Much Do Other Moms Make?
Have you ever thought of turning your creative passion into a career, but got worried it wouldn’t be enough to sustain your financial needs? We asked creative professionals in their 30s to spill the details of their salaries, budgets, and all things money.
Wwe think of creative careers, it’s hard to shake the image of the starving artist. We’ve been conditioned elieve that a so-called artistic job doesn’t rake in the big bucks—but moms with families to raise need the big bucks, and there’s no luxury to do anything purely for the love of it. So how do moms who pursue their creative passions and talents manage to make ends meet? If these moms are any indication, a little ingenuity and priority-setting are all you need. And even better, they prove that you don’t have to shelve your creative skills if you want to contribute to the family’s finances.
Pursuing my passion means I wake up energized every day.” —Pia, photographer
THE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER: PIA*, 36 STATUS: Married with two kids aged 5 years and 9 months AVERAGE MONTHLY SALARY: P150,000, but about P250,000 combined with husband’s income
“Aside from my photography, my husband (who is a graphic artist) and I own a photography studio. We also sell some of our art. In the mornings, I focus on helping our elder child get ready for school, then I do administrative work like answer emails. I mostly shoot in the afternoons. On non-shoot days, I’m busy doing marketing for the studio.
“The benefit of our profession is that we own our time. We can say no to projects we don’t feel like doing, and this flexibility helps give us time for what is truly important to us. And pursuing what I am passionate about means I wake up energized every day, excited to work.
“In terms of the financial aspect, I do feel that our income is enough for our needs. Our biggest expenses involve our child’s education and food—we love eating out and experiencing new things rather than shopping! We are able to save and allot money into an emergency fund and a separate travel fund. We are also able to invest—we bought a small condo that we rent out. The next step is to acquire more condos to expand our rental business and look into other sources of income.
“My advice to women who wish to pursue a creative job is to know how to price your work and ensure that you get paid what is due you at the end of each project. Protect yourself with contracts, and learn how to walk away from projects that do not give you what you deserve. And since you’ll be earning on a per-project basis, learn how to save! Regardless of how small or big the fee is, set something aside and budget what you earn.”
THE INTERIOR DESIGNER: SANDRA*, 34
STATUS: Married with one kid aged 3 AVERAGE MONTHLY
SALARY: P40,000 to P100,000, but about P150,000 combined with husband’s income
“I am an interior decorator and stylist, and I help out with the family business. I normally start my workday at 9 a.m., after bringing my daughter to school. I have a home office where I work on my client mood boards and design proposals, but on certain days, I leave the house to check on my family’s business and do site visits for clients. As much as possible I try to end my workday by dinner time.
“Since I am self-employed, I do not have the typical government and health benefits. I pay taxes on my own, and I pay for our own health and life insurance annually. But in terms of fulfillment, I believe I have found my true calling! I originally crafted my career path around writing, but I realized belatedly that it wasn’t something I was passionate about. I took some design courses and started feeling like I was where I had always wanted to be.
“When I have extra money, I try to stash some away in a mutual fund so I can still grow my money despite having an inconsistent income. I am also managing our credit card debt, which I ironically accumulated while I was still employed.”
“I have learned not to see each client check as money I can use to splurge, or as something I deserve. I don’t mind foregoing family vacations and shopping trips because what is most important now is the financial stability of my family.”
There’s a lot of competition, so you need to keep improving.” —Niqui, makeup artist
THE MAKEUP ARTIST: NIQUI*, 31
STATUS: Single mom with one kid aged 2 AVERAGE MONTHLY SALARY: P25,000 to P40,000
“I’m reelance makeup artist, which mean my ys are spent at photo shoots and weddings. I sometimes hold makeup tutorial and workshops to earn extra money.
was always nto makeup—my mom said I was kikay ev at a young age and I would play it her makeup. I studied marketing in ollege because I never thought doing makeup could be more than a hobby. I eventu ly pursued it professionally after a co le of years in the workforce.
“I also wanted to pursue makeup after un pectedly had a baby. I want my kid to of working
something not just for the money, but because you want to explore your talent. But of course, being a single mom is hard, so I rely on a support system to help me logistically and financially. We live in my parents’ house, so my childcare and rent are free, but I do contribute to the utilities and the groceries. I also have to shoulder my own gas or cab rides.
“Budgeting income from a makeup job is a challenge because no two months are the same. Some weeks I am fully booked, sometimes I’m calling every project manager or accounting office, tracking down checks. I’m grateful that I was wise enough to plan ahead and saved a year’s worth of bonuses and profit-sharing before leaving my old job, so I still have a bit of savings to fall back on, but I need to hustle harder if I want to see my money grow and if I want to afford a good school for my son.
“A career in makeup can be glamorous, but it’s not always fun. Shoots often run late, and the so-called glam team isn’t always treated well (no food and late payments are normal). Weddings can be romantic, but it can also be draining dealing with nervous brides and mothers. You really need to have the heart and stomach for it. There’s also a lot of competition, so you need to keep improving your makeup skills. I don’t regret pursuing a career in makeup, but I have to admit, sometimes I miss the regular paycheck and health benefits that come from office work.”
THE WRITER AND EDITOR: MALEN*, 30
STATUS: Engaged with one kid aged 1 AVERAGE MONTHLY SALARY: P50,000, but about P100,000 combined with fiancé’s income
“I quit my PR (public relations) job and shifted to WAHM (work-at-home mom) life when I gave birth. I easily got work writing and editing articles for foreign digital publishing firms, which gave me the chance to focus on my baby and settle in with my fiancé. Days can be hectic, since we chose not to employ house help. People think writing and editing is easy work, but you’d be surprised how much time and effort you spend researching online, interviewing people, and correcting substandard work— not to mention dealing with clients you might not always agree with.
“Despite the stress, I enjoy what I do. I recognize how blessed I am to be able to do what I love while being fully hands-on with my child. But when you’re working a creative job from home, you need even more discipline, both in terms of managing your income and keeping to a routine.
“All my income goes to my baby’s needs—my fiancé takes care of household expenses, so what I earn is set aside for things like disposable diapers, vaccines, and the occasional new toy or dress. I admit that my fiancé and I are magastos—we eat out often, especially when we’re stressed out with work (he’s an architect employed by his family business) and financial literacy and budgeting are both things we can improve on. Budgeting, saving more, and being more intentional with our finances are definitely our goals for this year. I am honestly still living paycheck-to-paycheck and I am always on the lookout for side jobs to supplement my income.
“If you’ve always loved to write, keep doing it! Start a blog, read more, try to contribute to local websites and publications. Being a writer takes dedication, and it takes a while before it becomes ‘worth it’ financially, but that shouldn’t stop you from improving your craft.”
THE FREELANCE MODEL: ELLEN*, 32
STATUS: Married with one kid aged 1 AVERAGE MONTHLY
SALARY: P20,000 to P40,000, but about P100,000 combined with husband’s income
“My husband is the primary breadwinner. He is employed by a multinational company and he also has a small business on the side. I haven’t held an office job since we got married two years ago. We both grew up in households where the dads worked and the moms stayed at home, so we were both comfortable with that set-up.
“About a year or so ago, some friends urged me to try modeling. Apparently, there is a big demand for young, ‘friendlylooking’ moms for ads. At first I laughed it off, but I went to a casting anyway and was surprised to see moms who looked a lot like me! I booked a couple of small campaigns, and I earned about P20,000 to P30,000 for each of them—which I thought was not bad for a few hours of work.
“Since I am not under any pressure to bring home the bacon, I don’t jump at every VTR or casting. It can honestly take its toll, heading all the way to Makati where most VTRS take place, shopping for clothes and getting your hair done to fit the peg, sometimes on very short notice. And when you’re booked, it can be stressful due to the very early call times and the hectic atmosphere of the shoot. Also, the agency takes a large percentage of the talent fee (TF), so it can be a little frustrating at times.
“When I do get my TF, I use it to pay for my family’s health insurance. We are covered by my husband’s job, but I chose to take out another premium so we are not dependent on his company. Also, we use my TF to fund our travels and things like our daughter’s Gymboree. We don’t really get to save for long-term goals, but I am proud to say that I contributed significantly in the building of our emergency fund.
“I wouldn’t recommend pursuing modeling as a primary source of income. The waiting game and effort isn’t worth the pay-off. I’m grateful for the chance to contribute to our family’s income and savings, but modeling isn’t a viable career and I know I won’t be doing it forever.”
THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR: FRANCESCA*, 36
STATUS: Married with two kids aged 5 years and 6 months AVERAGE MONTHLY SALARY: P70,000, but around P140,000 combined with husband’s income
“A few partners and I put up a small advertising and digital marketing firm, where we service up-and-coming clients and brands. I don’t just play with Photoshop all day, though that’s part of it. I also take part in commercial and print ad shoots, in brainstorming, and I also talk to suppliers.
“It’s a busy job, and a very competitive one. My husband is also busy with their family business, so a lot of our income is spent on childcare. We spend a fortune on yaya, maid, and driver salaries and benefits. Our elder child has playschool, which is also pricey. It can also get expensive maintaining our household—a portion of our rent and gas is subsidized by my husband’s family business, but we spend way too much on food. Luckily, I am still breastfeeding the little one, so we’ve saved a lot on formula.
“Since our firm is still new, we haven’t set up any additional benefits, so insurance is another thing my husband and I spend for. We banked our younger one’s cord blood, and it’s also an added expense. Sometimes I worry about how little we seem to be earning compared to other friends who look like they have it all figured out, but we manage to scrape through and still have room for small trips around the country.
“Right now, our priority is saving enough for our kids’ school and to pay our health insurance, because my husband and I have a family history of cancer and diabetes. Down the line, I am hoping to be completely financially independent from my husband’s family.
“I love my job and enjoy being able to grow professionally. I was wary about working for a company, knowing that my priority will always be split with my children, so I am glad that the viable solution turned out to be starting our own firm—this way, I get to practice my profession but I can still focus on my kids.”
THE FASHION DESIGNER: LALA*, 34
STATUS: Married with one kid aged 2 AVERAGE MONTHLY SALARY: P40,000, but about P100,000 combined with husband’s income
“I used to only do formal dresses for friends, but those were one-offs that brought in about P5,000 to P8,000 a piece, so I didn’t really consider myself in the fashion-designing business back then. But when we had our baby, I felt the need to push myself more in terms of earning money to help my husband with the expenses. I take care of our baby’s needs while my husband takes care of the utilities and groceries. Luckily, he was able to invest in a small townhouse so we don’t have to pay rent.
“I partnered with a friend and soon we started selling ready-to-wear beach coverups and dresses inspired by my travels. It’s a small, home-based business so costs are kept low. Of course, my income is based on sales, so there are months where it can get lean, but I’m glad that I took a chance to put up my own fashion business because I am learning so much.
“I don’t really earn as much as I would like, but I am grateful to have a business that is steadily earning, and I truly enjoy what I do—which is more than I can say for my richer friends who are stuck in jobs they don’t like for the high salary.
“If you want to explore a hobby or talent, the best thing you can have is a good support system. My husband not only provided seed money for my business, he also functions as kargador of stocks, delivery driver, even salesman during bazaars! Having someone push you to keep going is so important.”
Working from home