I remember the pleasure of buying new things for my first baby. I didn’t really think about what that money represented. It meant finishing my maternity leave earlier than I wanted to, partly because of those “miracle” nursing pillows and never-worn white baby gros. I didn’t make the same mistake with baby number two!
In this series on saving money during maternity leave I will cover how you can make the most of your money so that you can also make the most of your time with the baby.
Creating your bare bones budget
If you haven’t already – start by setting a budget based on your maternity leave income. If you have a partner with a salary, add their income (and your maternity leave income, such as statutory maternity pay) together. If you will be paid more at the beginning of your maternity leave then average that income out.
Then list out all of your expected living costs after the baby. Make sure that you can cover them with your new income.
This should be your post-baby costs. For example, if you will not longer be paying to commute into work then don’t include that. Instead, think about the transport costs you will have to visit friends or go to baby groups.
If you won’t be socialising so much, cut that from your budget.
Also think about the new costs you will have:
- nappy wipes
- activities, like swimming or playgroups
- costs of meeting friends
- baby clothes
- any ongoing childcare costs (if this isn’t your first baby)
If your new income does not cover your new post baby costs, go through all of your cost categories and bring them down. Can you find a cheaper rate for a utility provider? What about trying a more affordable supermarket, or cancelling subscriptions you don’t use?
Then, in the months leading up to mat leave start living according to your new mat leave budget.
You can use any money left over to start buying any extra baby things you will need. Or, you can save into sinking funds – like one for a holiday when the baby is about six months, or for Christmas. See this post for more on lowering your household costs, and here for saving money on food.
Declutter and sell
This is the perfect time to have a really good declutter of the house. You may have been hit with the nesting bug anyway. Those quiet empty days at the start of mat leave (pre baby!) are ideal.
For some audio inspiration, these ladies at The Declutter Hub make a lovely podcast full of practical and encouraging tips.
Not only will you make the house clearer and easier to clean, but you can also sell things you no longer need and use the income to…
Start buying good value baby and maternity things
If you are patient you WILL be able to find everything you need second hand at a fraction of the cost in store. Gumtree and similar sites are good, but there are also “nearly new” baby sales in most major cities.
It’s also worth checking out if there is a Buy Nothing group locally or even setting one up if there is not.
Finally, the more unisex clothes you can get, the more likely you can use them for any future babies.
Don’t forget your pension
Check if your work pays your pension contributions (on your behalf) while you are on maternity leave. If they do, it means that even though you aren’t earning your usual salary you are still getting the same amount into your pension. That’s definitely a reason to increase your contribution before you go on maternity leave as you will receive more money into your pension without paying in yourself (while on leave). You may be limited in terms of when you can do this, so check far in advance.
Make the most of your free time
One thing you may struggle to do once the baby comes is spend time on the things you value. I’m not saying you won’t value family time, but it’s an adjustment. You’ve probably spent the last few decades spending your non working time exactly as you want to. So this is the time to take impromptu trips to the cinema, read books in the garden and drink hot drinks while they are still hot (bliss!).
It’s also the perfect time to start that side hustle you’ve always been wanting to do. You can invest that extra time now and then by the time your maternity leave is over, you may have another income stream to allow you to go back part time, or not go back at all.