Does the thought of having to save money for maternity leave make you feel physically sick? Don’t worry, you are not alone. The thought of having to save money for anything can be very daunting (and sound extremely boring).
Here’s the thing – maternity leave is not forever. It’s one of the most important times in your life. Think of saving money in preparation for it as a spending holiday.
I can hear you now – “I don’t have enough money in the first place to save anything”. As a reformed shopaholic, I know exactly what that feels like.
I’m a huge fan of breaking things down into small numbers. It’s much simpler once you put things into the context of “it’s just a cup of coffee” or “it’s just a meal deal”. Therefore I’ll show you how to find those small amounts which are probably stopping you from saving money.
Understand your money coming in during maternity leave
The important thing to note about your income during maternity leave is that YOUR INCOME will be mostly fixed. This is because the rules for maternity pay and benefits are set already and out of your control. The Government has decided already how much you get and when you will get it.
If you are lucky you might have a generous employer who pays you more than the statutory maternity pay amount but you should still know ahead of time what that is going to be.
The good news is that the amount of income you do have should be fixed each month.
Obviously, if your partner is topping up some of the income missed then you might need to take into account fluctuations in their income.
Take the time to understand all your potential income during maternity leave. There are numerous income sources available to you besides maternity pay. Work through each of these potential income sources and put them into your budget planner:
- Annual leave prior to maternity leave
- Maternity pay for a maximum of 39 weeks
- Keeping in Touch (KIT) days income
- Anual leave at the end of maternity leave
- Bank Holidays missed
- Business income
- Other employment income such as bonuses
- Dividends/interest/insurance policies
- Other income
I know that you can feel cheated and angry when you find out how much money you will have during maternity leave. The thing is, there is not a lot that you can do about it.
The only way to legally increase your income for maternity leave is to get some more of it from somewhere. For most of us, this just isn’t achievable. So when we have only a set amount of income, we have to work really hard to make sure we don’t let it slip away.
Understand your expenses
This leads me nicely to my second point.
The thing that you have the most control and influence over, is the amount you spend.
As a society, we are trained to spend our money on what we think makes us happy. This often means we are not spending our money on the right things and the basics then become a struggle.
If ever there was a time to focus and make sure your money is being spent on the right things, it’s Maternity Leave.
Your income is going to take a big hit, so you are going to have to prioritise where that money is spent.
Work through the following categories and make a note in your budget of how much you spend and when you spend it.
- check where your direct debits and standing orders go
- think about how your expenses wil change with a baby
- think about what you pay for with cash and plan that into your budget
- look at travel costs – these might reduce if you won’t be travelling to work
- look at how much you spend on food
- check your credit card and budget for the repayments
- look at your entertainment and going out costs
- check how much your utilities, phone, insurance and rent/mortgage are
- factor in having to buy extra equipment for the baby – such as highchairs
- don’t forget to budget for self-care and treats
If you still aren’t sure you have all of your expenses in your budget, go through your bank statements for the last few years. Try to be as accurate as you can – it’s better to have too many expenses in there than not enough.
So now you know your income and expenses, the next piece of the puzzle is working out how much time you want to have off work.
Know how long you are planning to have off work
I could spend hours talking about how long to have off work for maternity leave but I won’t. Instead, why not try a couple of scenarios to see how your finances will stack up.
Plan your income and expenses for six, nine and twelve months and see where that leaves you from a savings point of view.
How much money do you need to save for maternity leave
Like everything with maternity leave, there is no magic answer to the question about how much money you will need. It all depends on your personal circumstances.
There is however an easy way to work out how much money you need to save:
Income during maternity leave minus expenses equals how much you need to saveSharlene Smith
I know that once you have seen this amount you are probably going to fall off your chair. So that’s why in the next section I am going to help you break it down into something more manageable.
How to reduce the overwhelm
Like I said you probably have a massive number in front of you right now. Let’s break it down into a few smaller goals.
Ask yourself these questions about getting to your money-saving goal:
- What would I need to save per day?
- How much would you need to save per week?
- How much would you need to save per month?
A further step you could take is to make a note of what that small target means. Is it a cup of coffee, a pair of shoes or something bigger?
How will I actually save any money?
Get your savings plan off to a quick start with these easy to implement tips:
- Cancel unwanted direct debits and standing orders
- Setup a standing order on pay day to divert a percentage of your pay before you even get the chance to spend it!
- Transfer credit card balances to the lowest possible rate
- Delay any non-essential spending
- Borrow maternity clothes (or buy bigger regular clothes)
- Buy what you can secondhand for the baby (or borrow things)
- Shop via cashback sites when you buy anything new
- Don’t stockpile things – keep the cash for when you are sure you need to buy things
- Challenge yourself to some non spending days
- Try a daily savings amount challenge
I’ve got lots more tips on my maternity leave savings cheat sheet. You can download it here for free.
My final tip on saving money for maternity leave is to bank all of your savings in a new bank account with a different bank. That way you can pay yourself from that account once your maternity pay runs out.
Today’s post has had a lot in it and you have a lot of homework to do. Why not make your life so much easier and download my free maternity leave planner and budget calculator?
Everything I have talked through is in an easy to follow checklist so you can tick things off once you have done them. Get the planner here for free.