In some countries we are lucky enough to receive some sort of payment when we become a parent. I am very lucky that in Australia, we receive a 12 week bonus and that has contributed to surviving my one year maternity leave. It was definitely hard going down to one income and at times, we did feel the pressure. There were many times I contemplated cutting my leave short.
I have learnt a few things this time which I’ll be taking on board for next time!
1. Write a list of the items you want to purchase for the arrival of your baby. It’s hard when it’s your first time as you don’t know exactly what you need. You’ll think you need everything but you won’t end up using it all. I’ll be writing a post later on all the items we purchased prior to the arrival of our baby and what I thought was necessary or just a luxury!
2. Say yes to ‘hand-me-downs’! Take them all! You’re probably thinking, I don’t want to dress my baby in second hand clothing, but baby clothes are expensive. They grow so quickly especially during the first 6 months that it’s seems pointless spending a fortune on their wardrobe. I love hand-me-downs. They saved us money, giving us variety without costing anything. Also babies have explosions A LOT, it’s expensive to buy everything new and to have enough to cover multiple changes in one day!
3. Have a budget: have a realistic plan of how long you want to take off. Who can look after the baby later, childcare or your parents? Having a plan for later down the track helps you work out how long you want to take off from work. Then you can set a budget.
4. Before purchasing anything, ask yourself: “is that a ‘need’ or a ‘want’?” I won’t say avoid ‘wants’ as its important to spoil yourself every now and then. But limiting your ‘wants’ will help with overspending.
5. Make sure you do your research on your maternity leave rights with both your company and government financial support. It’s good to talk to other mums to get an idea on what kind of payments you’re entitled to.
6. Do research to ensure you maximise the health benefits of your health insurance. This includes hospital bills, medications, pregnancy programs and pregnancy items that your insurer might cover. Will getting a higher cover mean saving more money?
7. Save your annual leave and take them as part of your maternity leave so that you are not left with unpaid leave! When we had Madeleine, I had 6 weeks of annual leave which I took after I gave birth. This was 6 weeks worth of guaranteed income so that I healed in peace without having to worry about our finances!
8. Save for your maternity leave. When you find out your pregnant, have a set amount of money put aside every pay cycle. Even though it wasn’t much at the time, it definitely helped later when we were down to one income!
9. Eliminate personal loans: We got rid of our car loan and bought another car that was within our budget. It was the best thing that I did. One less debt to think about!
10. Have a baby shower. Hosting a baby shower is not only a good chance for you to celebrate becoming parents, but also you’ll receive great baby gifts that your family and friends will be eager to buy for the baby. This will help cover some of the costs towards a new baby.
11. Meal plan is the key! One of our secrets to being financially stable is to meal plan. I absolutely love it too, as it makes us feel more organized. Having a meal plan means less eating out, less ubereats/menulog (take out) and it’s also a healthier option. It also meant that we never ran out of food at home. I don’t mind splurging a bit over the weekend but during the week, I generally like to eat at home. Eating out is actually one of the biggest hurdles to being financially stable! In Melbourne, Australia for a family of 3 you’d easily spend $70 to $150 on a simple dinner alone!
What lifestyle changes did you make prior to taking maternity leave? How did you survive financially?