Initially, knowing that you will have time off for maternity leave after your child is born is exciting and a great relief. Bonding as a family and physically recovering from pregnancy are important for you and by extension your baby.
But you quickly begin to think about the less exciting aspect of being on maternity leave, lower or no pay. With this thought nagging at your mind, you will quickly want to explore you company’s maternity leave policy and begin to plan how you will be saving for maternity leave.
Know What to Expect in Regular Income
As soon as you are comfortable announcing your pregnancy, it is a good idea to speak with a human resources representative at your company. You need to verify how much time you can take off for maternity leave and also what your compensation will be during part or all of that time.
To have a general idea of what to expect, you can review the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to read the qualifications and boundaries of this policy. But remember that if you work for a company with fewer than 50 employees, then they are exempt from following the policy. Once you have a complete understanding of your company’s policy, then you can decide what time frame will work for both you and the company, and how much income you will receive.
Adjust Your Lifestyle-Needs First
You have many months to prepare for the arrival of your child as well as the adjustment in your budget during maternity leave. Beginning your budgetary planning as early as possible and implementing it quickly will make the savings process as easy as possible.
Take a serious look at your monthly bills to determine which items can be reduced or even eliminated. This can be a difficult process at first, but it helps to divide your expenses into two initial categories. The first group are the called needs and cover items like housing, food, necessity utilities, insurance and credit or loan payments.
These are items that you know cannot be eliminated but might be able to be slightly reduced. Food is one necessity that we all need, but we all have the option to shop more frugally and to use coupons. Committing to investing some time to save money is a great way to instantly cut your food bill and jumpstart your savings for maternity leave.
Choices about Your Wants
The second category can be a little more confusing to sort through. Dealing with the items that you like, enjoy or feel that you deserve as a tiny reward can be difficult. You don’t want to create such a drastically different lifestyle that you feel deprived.
That is a sure way to abandon all of your plans and derail your maternity leave savings plan. So look at ways to adjust your habits or activities without eliminating them. If you are a fan of going to the movies, maybe you go to one movie a month instead of four but you enjoy a movie night at home on the three other Saturday nights.
You might find that as you get further into your pregnancy, the idea of sitting for two hours in a crowded theater isn’t as appealing as it once was. And with a new baby, movies at home will become your new norm anyway. That savings of nearly $50 a week for a movie, snacks and drinks will add up quite nicely over the course of 6 months.
If you like to read, explore book exchange clubs, the library or eBooks, which are much more affordable and require no storage space. Cooking at home instead of eating out or buying take out is also a great way to save money and eat a more healthy diet during pregnancy.
An honest look at your entertainment and recreational spending can offer you many opportunities to save which will add up quickly over a 6 month savings period.
A Whole New World of Expenses
Understand that once your baby arrives, you will have a completely new list of needs. Diapers, tiny clothes, blankets and bassinets are all going to be the needs of your new little person. Seeking affordable alternatives to paying full price for these items is important.
And knowing that your income will be dropping, planning early and creating a stockpile of items such as diapers and baby wipes is a great idea. Finding coupons, buying from bulk warehouse stores and even purchasing second hand items can afford you a huge savings when money becomes more limited.
It may seem odd to commit to spending on items that you never purchased before to create a savings for maternity leave, but saving necessity items which have a long shelf life is as important as saving cash.
A Bonus for New Parents
As you look forward to parenthood, realize that there are many, many businesses who want to earn your consumer loyalty. And again, an investment of your time can offer you some great savings opportunities on many of the items you will need to purchase for your child.
Go online and search for coupons, clubs and free items for expectant parents. You will be amazed by the number of companies who are willing to give you samples or high value coupons to get you hooked on their products for your child. The global baby care market is valued at over $47 billion dollars each year.
The competition to get your money and your loyalty will be bought with great savings offers, free items and club memberships for continued discounts. Take advantage of these offers whenever you can.
A byproduct of the coupons and freebies will definitely be a huge amount of email, so you might want to consider creating a new email just for your baby clubs, coupons and child related goods. Not only will you be scoring free items but you will have many coupons to use those first few months as you transition into life as a parent and life on a more restricted budget.
Use Your Time Wisely
In addition to saving money for maternity leave, be sure that you save as much paid time off as you can. Using accrued sick days, floating holidays and vacation will allow you to maintain your full salary for more of your maternity leave and will minimize your budgetary issues.
Using these few tips will make saving for maternity leave much less stressful and will allow you to enjoy your time bonding with the newest member of your family.