Are you expecting a little one or maybe just planning to have a baby soon?
Are you worried that money will be tight while you’re at home on maternity leave?
In this post, I will cover seven ways to financially prepare for maternity leave that will leave you a little more stress free.
Maternity leave should be a time when we enjoy our new baby.
Unfortunately for many, it is a time for financial struggle. It doesn’t help that the U.S. is the only developed country that does not offer paid maternity leave to new moms.
Well, unless you are lucky enough to work for a company that offers excellent benefits.
Most of us must find ways to provide for ourselves. Often women cannot take much time off to enjoy the first months with their little.
Many regret this for years to come. Let’s dig into some smart ways to get your budget ready for maternity leave.
1. Save Your Vacation and Sick Days
Most jobs offer some vacation time and paid sick leave.
Try to take off as little as possible while pregnant or even before that if you are planning on having a child soon. This way you have some money coming to you once you stop working.
Fortunately for me, I was able to use some flex time to accommodate my prenatal visits. I would refrain from taking lunch breaks for a few days to make up for the time I spent at the doctor.
Some jobs allow this flex time that allows you to come in early or stay late to make up for the time. If possible this is a great way to keep from using up all your vacation or sick time during the heart of your pregnancy.
2. Take Advantage of Your Work Benefits
By work benefits, I mean short or long-term disability and shared time leave.
Depending on the plan, both short and long-term disability could cover around 60% of your income for a certain amount of time. I got paid short-term disability for 6 weeks.
A friend of mine got paid for any days over 30 with her long-term disability. Some employers allow employees to share their sick days and give them to those that need them. These benefits can be chosen only once a year.
So, be mindful at open enrollment whether you might need them.
My short-term disability did not pay for pre-existing conditions, so I had to make sure I chose it well in advance before I got pregnant.
3. Pay Off Big Bills
When you are at home with the baby, bills will continue rolling in even though your income is not the same.
It is beneficial to focus on paying off a few big bills before the baby comes.
We had a significant car payment that freed up a substantial amount of money once we paid it off.
Also, when preparing for a baby, make sure to not add any new bills to yourself if you can help it. Carefully evaluate any big purchases and consider postponing them.
4. Rethink Your Budget
Even if you believe that you are spending wisely, it is worth it to sit down and look through your expenses.
Evaluate your spending and see what you might be able to cut back on.
It might be a subscription you don’t use anymore or can live without; or too much money spent on shopping. In my family, we canceled cable TV and streamed everything via the internet.
We also realized that we were spending a significant amount on eating out. Cutting down on those two expenses saved us a good amount each month. If you feel you like have no idea where to start, I would recommend downloading a budgeting app and tracking each expense for a few months.
By seeing everything broken down, you can more easily decide on which expenses to decrease or avoid.
5. Stock Ahead
Many women buy lots of diapers, wipes, formula, clothes, etc. for the baby.
Don’t go too crazy on these until you know for sure what suits your baby. I recommend keeping the receipts for everything you buy. This allows you to easily return those purchases that may not be needed.
Here is another idea – stock up on groceries for the pantry and the freezer. Pantry food has a long shelf life and a lot of freezer meals and meats can last several months.
All that food will also make you thrilled when you are sleep deprived and covered with baby puke. The last thing you will want to do during the first weeks with your baby is to spend a long time at the grocery store.
Another great idea is gift cards. If you are not sure what you will need or you are afraid to buy the wrong kind of diapers, save up gift cards for your favorite stores.
This way, when you are on maternity leave and the paycheck is not coming anymore, you can use those gift cards to buy diapers, groceries, dinner, or whatever.
6. Be Mindful with Baby Shower Registry and Baby Shower Gifts
If you are a first-time mom, you might have no idea what to put in your registry.
Seek advice from friends or the web.
Be careful and register for things that you will need, so you can save up.
Also, create a rule that people who buy nothing from the registry should buy diapers and wipes instead of buying things that you might not need or already have.
7. Create a Maternity Fund
Start saving as early as you can.
Even a small amount per paycheck can add up to a large sum in several months. Also, make sure you decide early on how long you are taking off.
If you are not coming back to work for a while, it might be beneficial to learn how to live off one income before the baby comes.
Start saving the extra money for the added expenses that will arise with having a baby; such as diapers, clothes, hospital and doctor bills, etc.
The most important thing to remember is to start planning as early as you can.
The first few weeks with your new baby will be too hectic for you to worry about money. You will be too busy enjoying your new baby.
What are some ways that you are using for financial security during maternity leave?
Share some of your ideas in the comments below, and be sure to share this post with other moms-to-be.