It’s been a while since my last blog post, in what has been a rollercoaster few months.
That rollercoaster is called The Baby, and sweet Phoebe arrived safely in March. And, as with any new baby, has created carnage and joy in equal measures!
Money was high on my agenda early on in my pregnancy. How will we manage financially? What is my maternity pay? Babies are expensive right? You’re pretty much halving your household income, and as we all know, maternity income can be meagre to say the least.
Here’s my round up of how I financially planned for the baby, and some things you might want to consider if you’re expecting:
1. Maternity pay. Find out what your maternity pay is. Maternity pay can be a bit of a
minefield, and it will vary from company to company, so get to grips with yours. No matter where you work, you’ll be entitled to up to 52 weeks Maternity Leave, 39 of which will be paid. If you are self-employed you may qualify for ‘Maternity Allowance’, and if you are unemployed you should receive government benefits and support.
2. Bank your holiday. If you are employed, save as much of your holiday allowance as you can. You can then bolt this onto the start of your maternity leave. I saved 21 days of my holiday allowance, which meant I gained nearly an extra month maternity leave.
3. Save, save, save. Put aside as much money as you can every month. I also checked savings accounts with my bank, and opened a new account with a slightly higher interest rate.
4. Deal with your debt. You don’t want debt repayments to be eating into your maternity pay, so pay off what you can or consolidate to a 0% credit card. I cleared as much of my debt as I could, and the remainder is on a 0% interest balance transfer card for 18 months.
5. Sacrifice your social life (it’s easy, trust me). I gave up things like my annual holiday and hen weekends, which – to be honest – are not the same when you can’t drink. You’ll also save money simply because your social life is a boring husk of what it was – no one invites you out to do stuff, and you feel too crap to do anything anyway. Weekends out? After work dinners? Cocktails? GONE. It may be depressing, but you can feel smug about how much money you are saving.
6. Go easy on the baby stuff. This is a separate blog in itself, but try not to go nuts on buying things. Family and friends will want to buy things for the baby, so graciously accept the offer– there is so much you will need to buy if this is your first, so the costs will mount up.
3 months into maternity leave, I am beginning to accept the financial implications of a having a baby, and adapting to living on way less money than I am used to. Watch this space for more blogs on how we’re financially managing and saving.