How to stretch your Maternity Leave Budget
In the last 3 years I’m been on maternity leave twice with a 6 month period back at work (I found out I was pregnant again 3 days after returning to work after my first baby!) I therefore know what it’s like trying to make your maternity leave budget stretch as far as possible in order to take the maximum time off work to enjoy those (mostly) wonderful days with your little one(s).
On both occasions, I was able to take the maximum time permitted (12 months) only receiving pay for 9 months of that time (and at a significantly reduced rate to my normal pay).
So I thought I would share with you how I did that and how you can do it too.
Sort out your Finances
The first thing I would recommend is to look at your finances and work out a budget so you can start saving some money as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant.
Cut back your expenses as much as you can in order to build up your savings (you may as well start practicing for not being able to go out as much when your baby arrives!) I cut back my outgoings as much as I could whilst I was pregnant in order to build up savings to use for the time that I wasn’t receiving any income.
Look at where you’re spending your money on and try to come up with alternatives that are free or frugal. For example do you take your lunch to work everyday? Try making your lunch at home and bringing it to work with you? I’ve done this for many years and it’s amazing how much money you can save. What about gym memberships, do you really use that gym enough to justify paying £50 per month, and/or will you when your baby arrives? Think about cancelling it and finding ways to exercise for free.
What about any magazines that you buy regularly, at about £4.00 per magazine is the information you’re getting really worth it? Did you know you can get magazines for free through your library, there’s so many titles to choose from, current and back issues; pop along to your local library and have a look.
Meals out is another area where you can make significant savings. Cut back on the number of times you eat out in restaurants or get a takeaway. I always make sure we do a monthly meal plan as it saves money and time; but there are occasions where we just can’t be bothered to cook or it all goes out of the window especially when one of our boys are ill. In situations like that I make sure we always have something easy to cook in the freezer such as frozen pizza – lifesaver and budget saver!
Look through all your expenses and see where you can make savings and make sure you put the money you save into a dedicated account for your maternity leave. I set up a separate account and each month when I got paid I had a standing order set up to transfer money straight into that account.
Look at free Classes and Activities
I know how easy it is to get swept up with all the baby classes that you can attend, there’s baby yoga, baby massage, baby swimming, baby signing…the list is endless and they’re not cheap. I did sign up to a few of these classes with my first baby, as I thought I’d be missing out, but I didn’t for my second as I didn’t have the budget to do it. I think it is important to mix with other parents and children but I looked at free or frugal ways to get this interaction and we enjoyed it just as much if not more.
Look at baby and toddler groups in your area (they’re usually run by churches). The one I attend has an entrance fee of £1.50 per family and we love it. Hot drinks, juice and biscuits for both children and adults is included in the price as well. You can chat to other parents while your children play with all the toys and activities, so its a good way to get that adult interaction you crave for a fraction of the price! Have a look for similar ones in your area, I’d highly recommend them.
Don’t Buy everything new for your baby
There really is no need to buy everything new for your baby. The best thing to do is to figure out what it is that you really need and search for them second hand or try to find good deals or vouchers for money off. I picked up so many clothes and toys from charity shops and car boot sales. It saves so much money and they hardly have time to wear the clothes before they’re too small so it doesn’t make sense to spend so much money on them. The same with toys, some of the best toys my children play with are ones which I’ve picked up for a few pound from car boot sales.
The same goes for bigger items like prams, there’s some amazing bargains on Gumtree and in second hand shops. If you start looking early enough you’ll definitely find something you love second hand.
For more practical things like nappies I found the supermarket own brand nappies were great. I used, and still do for my youngest, Aldi and Sainsbury’s own brand nappies, they’re much cheaper then the branded ones and I’ve never had any problems with them.
Sign up for baby freebies
My final tip would be to sign up for all the baby freebie sites. Sainsbury’s, Boots and Tesco all have parent clubs, you sign up with them online and you’ll get sent money off vouchers to use on baby products.
Cow & Gate, SMA and Hipp Organic are some of the other ones I signed up to and received money off coupons for baby food, free bibs and weaning spoons, to name just a few. Search for “baby freebies” online and sign up for as many as you can.
So that’s is, just some of the things that I did no save some money and enjoy the time off I had with my babies.
Let me know how you managed your maternity leave budget. What are your top tips?