Maternity leave is full of highs and lows. A beautiful baby of your very own and the joy of a new little family, coupled with sleepless nights, smelly nappies, and the one thing no-one ever seems to discuss – a drastic change in your financial situation! I had tried to prepare for most things having a baby entailed, but I had underestimated just how much of a change it would be from a financial perspective.
The prospect of losing a regular monthly salary can be somewhat daunting, and I’m sure this is something many other mums out there can relate to. However, I felt much more at ease once I sat down and worked out what money would be coming in, and how I could make the most of it. Here are my top tips for keeping your finances afloat on maternity leave and beyond.
It’s also a good idea to start building up savings as far in advance as you can, so you can use it top up your maternity pay. I started saving early on in my pregnancy, and found it surprisingly easy – my social life completely changed, so everything I would have spent on Friday night cocktails went straight into savings! Even if you can only save a little, it will all come in handy. Also, if you have any debts, try to reduce these as much as you can to minimise any debt repayments further down the line.
I had tried to prepare for most things having a baby entailed, but I had underestimated just how much of a change it would be from a financial perspective
I also did a check to see if I qualified for anything like tax credits or child benefit. I found out that most people are entitled to a child benefit payment of approximately £20.70 per week, and this has been incredibly useful. Check what help you can get, because if you have a low household income overall you could qualify for some help from the benefits system. Turn2us and Entitled To are two handy sites to estimate what you could get.
Once you have all your figures in place, put together a budget. This really helped me to feel more financially prepared, plus it’s something I still use now to stay on top of my spending while I am off.
What about once baby is here to save money? I’ve found you can really economise on the most of the things baby needs with a little shopping around. I’ve found the cheaper brands of nappies and wipes from Aldi are just as good as the leading premium brands and given the amount of nappy changes you’ll be doing every day you’ll want to save money on this.
With some good financial planning and careful spending once baby is here, you’ll be surprised at how well you can adapt to living on maternity pay
Buy as much as you can second hand. I got many of the baby things I needed from Facebook selling groups and local Mum to Market events, so these are great places to pick up a baby bargain. Babies are fickle little things, and they’ll dislike something you thought they’d love for no particular reason! I made the mistake early on of spending £50 on a bouncer she refused to sit in, so save your money and go for used where you can.
Finally, make sure you stick to the budget your set earlier. I did this by downloading a money manager app called me&mymoney, which links to my bank account and tracks my spending against my budget. It’s been incredibly useful to me while I’ve been on maternity leave, so do take a look at one of the many apps out there.
All in all, there’s no denying it’s a big change to lose your regular monthly salary and adapt to living on maternity pay. But, with some good financial planning and careful spending once baby is here, you’ll be surprised at how well you can adapt to living on maternity pay.
All worth it in the end! Photo: Leanne with baby Phoebe