Financially, there may never truly be a “right time” to start planning a family, but you should not let that put you off. In the run up to maternity leave, and during it, there are plenty of things that you can do so that once your income drops you are able to take the time off to bond with your baby, whilst surviving with less money.
Find out your entitlement
The first thing you should do is find out exactly what you will be paid during maternity leave and for how long. What you are entitled to will very much depend on your employer. Some companies only pay statutory maternity pay (SMP) – this is the legal minimum your employer must pay to you. You may however have an employer who pays contractual maternity pay – you will need to check your contract of have a chat with HR to find out if this is the case.
Once you know how much money you will be paid and for how long you will be able to see how much less you will have so that you can look at your budget.
Budgeting for essentials
Once you know how much your income will be dropping by it is a good idea to sit down and take a look at your outgoings. Write a list of all the vital payments that you need to make, mortgage or rent payment, utilities, food etc.
Maternity leave can be a really good time to have an overhaul of your outgoings. If you haven’t compared utility prices recently then have a look and see if another company can offer you a better deal. Make a list of all the payments that you have going out and see if you need them all? There may be some that you can cancel or reduce which will certainly help.
Budgeting for food
During pregnancy many women try to make changes to their diet ensuring that both they and the baby are getting enough nutrients. Once you start maternity leave it can be a good idea to keep this up. Create a weekly meal plan and batch cook when possible – this will work out cheaper. Shop for seasonal fruit and vegetables as well and look for special offers in your supermarket – especially on items that you use all the time.
Having a baby is expensive and they grow so quickly that you will often get very little use out of some items – especially clothes. Whilst it can be really tempting to buy all the little clothes in the shops don’t. Consider purchasing baby clothes from a second-hand source, or even seeing if a friend has some you can have. You could also look for second-hand baby equipment to help your maternity pay stretch further – the only things you should avoid buying second hand are crib and cot mattresses and car seats. You could stock up on essentials in the sales.
Take a pension break
If money is really tight talk to your employer about taking a break from your pension contributions as well as this could really help.