Some moms are lucky enough to have paid maternity leave, others are lucky to get any time off at all.
Regardless of how long your maternity leave is and whether you get any part of that paid or not, it’s still difficult to drop an income at what is a very expensive time in your life.
Babies need so many things! Cribs, car seats, high chairs, diapers… the list goes on.
How to you do all this and get ready to drop an income on maternity leave? Here’s a four-pronged plan of attack that’ll help you take the time off without stressing about finances.
1. Savings Plan
Most moms find out that they’re expecting early in the first trimester, so you’ve got a bit of time to save. Start immediately and start strong. The more you can put away early in your pregnancy the better your position. This is important in case you find you’re unable to work up until the date you planned.
Here’s an example of how to calculate your savings plan (you can have a look at this yearly savings plan to get another idea of how you can manage it):
How much money do you want to have saved up? This will depend on your current income and how much you need to cover your expenses.
How many weeks do you have left of work? This determines how many weeks you have to save up.
Katy wants to save up $2,000 to cover expenses for her 2 months of leave. She has 35 weeks left in her pregnancy but she only wants to work for 33 of those weeks.
2,000 / 33 = $60.60
So, Katy needs to be putting aside $60.60 each week to make sure she ends up with $2,000 for her maternity leave.
2. Baby on a Budget
But, what about all the things you need to buy for your baby? That’ll surely eat into all those well-intentioned savings?
It doesn’t have to.
Honestly, there’re so many baby things you can buy that are completely unnecessary. A baby really only needs a safe place to sleep, milk, a clean diaper, and clothes/blankets to stay warm.
You can buy many baby things second hand.
Plus, you might want to re-evaluate what you think babies need. For example, the beautiful idyllic nursery we picture is at odds with the current SIDS guidelines to sleep baby in the same room as an adult caregiver for at least the first 6-months of life.
All those cute nursery items? They’re more for you than baby.
Also, although it’s not glamorous, you can buy most baby things second hand and gently used. It’s not as fun as buying brand new clothes and things from the shop, but the savings are too good to be ignored. I know that buying a pair of baby tights for $2 from the store seems like nothing, but if you buy 10, that’s $20. If you could’ve found the same kind of tights in great condition second hand for $0.50 and buy 10, then you’ve only spent $5…
It’s easy for little costs like that to add up. I notice this all the time with food – if you choose the named brand label, you’ll pay a dollar or two extra and it seems like nothing. Multiply that by 20-30 items and suddenly the savings you forgo are significant.
Check out my ebook on 64 Ways to Save Money on Baby for more ideas.
3. Cutting Expenses
What extras are you buying that you don’t need? If you can ruthlessly cut as much of the fat out of your weekly budget right now, you’ll be more easily able to reach and exceed your savings goal (plus you might find the money lasts you longer!)
For example, if you buy lunch at work, swapping to bringing your own will save you a ton of money. Or, if you like to buy coffee from the cafeteria, making your own will save loads as well.
Purchasing store brand rather than named brand items is also an easy way to save money week after week.
Other things you might consider cutting:
- Buying books or magazines – you can often find these used at the thrift store, your local library, or on Amazon. Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-day free trial!
- Netflix (sacrilege!)
- Bottled water or soda (bring your own water bottle!) – this is my favorite kind of water bottle, love the colors!
- Eating out and convenience foods – the convenience is seductive, especially when you’re exhausted and cranky from being on your feet all day. But, there’s a lot of bad additives in most convenience foods. And portion sizes are pretty crazy when it comes to take out and restaurant food. Good old fashioned home cooking is healthier and cheaper in the long run.
- Buying toiletries, household items, and clothing at full price – when it comes to clothes, we live in a fast fashion world. There’s literally a new season every week or two and the sales are CONSTANT. The same with toiletries and household items, every 4-6 weeks there’s usually some kind of sale. So why pay full price? Ok, it may take a little bit of pre-planning to make sure you hit the sale at the right time (like, before you totally run out) but if you’re open to swapping brands (and you should be, for just about everything), you should be able to find a good deal.
4. Making Extra Cash
There are a lot of ways you can make some extra cash to add to your nest egg.
- House sit
- Declutter your house and have a garage sale
- Sell your old clothes on consignment
- Start a business selling handmade items on Etsy
- Start freelancing as a writer, graphic designer, web developer, or video editor.
- Start taking surveys through a reputable survey company.
5. Know What You’re Eligible For
Are you eligible for FMLA? Disability? Another type of leave? What does your insurance cover? Know what you’re entitled to, so you can take advantage of anything that will save you money.
That’s a Wrap
Planning for maternity leave can be stressful. But, if you start saving, be smart about your purchases, cut your expenses, and come up with a few ways to make some extra cash, you’ll be able to nip that stress in the bud and enjoy being home with your baby.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll do so well at managing your finances you’ll be able to make the permanent move to being a stay-at-home-mom!
Over to you – how are you going with preparing financially for maternity leave? Let us know!