Maternity leave is an important time for moms to heal and bond with their new babies, but what are you supposed to do when your leave is unpaid? Many expecting moms are put in this tough situation. With some preparation, you can enjoy time with your baby without the stress and worry over paying your bills. The key to doing this is to plan ahead.
What does that mean? Set a goal to save enough money to cover your expenses during that time. The sooner you start saving, the easier it will be to reach your savings goal.
The first thing to do is to make a budget. In order to start saving, you need to know where your money is being spent. Start by writing down every expense and income you have during the month. I like to do this in excel because it’s easy to categorize and summarize the different types of spending. You might be surprised to see how much money you’re spending in certain categories.
Now that you have your budget, you can figure out how much money you need to save for your maternity leave. For example, if you are taking 3 months, add up all of your necessary expenses for the month and multiply this by 3. Make sure to include any anticipated payments that aren’t billed every month but will fall in those three months (like insurance, property taxes, or yearly subscriptions) and any expected medical bills for you and the baby. This number is your savings goal. If you want to be even more prepared, save a little extra for an emergency fund in case you have some unforeseen costs.
So, how do you save up this big chunk of money in such a short amount of time? Here are some tips to help get you on track to save enough money for unpaid maternity leave.
Cut back on unnecessary expenses
The biggest money saver is going to be cutting back on expenses. First, look at every line in your budget and determine what expenses can be reduced or completely cut out.
Check your subscriptions and memberships
Look closely at all of your subscriptions and memberships. Are you using your gym membership or can that be put on hold? You can always workout at home. Do you have any online subscriptions, cable, or multiple video streaming services that aren’t necessary right now? Make sure they are something you truly need to have. If you can live without it, get rid of it.
Spend less on food
Another big money-saver is to spend less on food.
Do you really need that drive-thru coffee every morning? Try making it at home. The same goes for lunch. Making your lunch and bringing it to work instead of going out each day will help fast-track you to reach your savings goal.
Another great way to save on food is by meal planning. Knowing what you are going to eat each day of the week makes it less likely that you’ll go out to buy dinner. Plan all of your meals for the week, make a grocery list, and only buy those things. If it’s hard to walk down the grocery aisles and not buy everything that sounds good, try using the pickup or driveup option at grocery stores. This way you won’t be tempted to buy more than you need.
I know it’s hard to be motivated to cook every night. Find some recipes you can make in advance and freeze. With meal prepping, you’ll have a stash of already prepared food you can pop in the oven or crockpot. This will save you from spending money on eating out when you’re too tired to cook dinner. It takes a bit of adjustment to get into the habit of meal prepping, but it’s definitely worth it!
Stop shopping so much
You don’t necessarily have to completely stop shopping, but make it a point to give up expensive habits. Think twice before you buy something. I’m guilty of buying clothes I don’t really need and cycling gear that I can probably live without. It’s okay to splurge and treat yourself every once in a while, just make sure it’s not detrimental to your financial goals. Forgoing one or two “fun” purchases each month can do a lot to boost your savings.
Automate your savings
Saving takes discipline. It’s hard to choose to do something that will help you in the future when you could have something today instead. Consider it paying yourself. Set up automatic withdrawals from your checking account to transfer a specified amount to savings after each time you get paid. This way, the decision is already made for you. You can always manually add more to your savings fund at any other time.
Do a savings challenge
There are so many savings challenges floating around on the internet. Pick one that appeals to you and do it! A google search of savings challenges comes up with a long list of options. Having the challenge might help you be more motivated to save. It will give you a specific amount of money to stash away each day or week which will help you get into the habit of being a consistent saver.
Sell items you no longer need or use
This is one of the easiest ways to quickly save up money. Look around your house for things you have lying around that you don’t use or don’t need. Things like clothes, books, old furniture, electronics, and jewelry can all be sold. Even if it’s something you think is worthless, someone else might be looking for that exact thing. There’s a big market out there for used items.
Deposit extra income
If you get a bonus at work or a refund on your taxes, immediately put this into your savings fund. I know it’s tempting to use all or part of it on fun purchases, but this is a great way to boost your savings and get closer to your goal.
As you get into the habit of making more frugal decisions, you’ll find it easier to start saving more. Being financially prepared for maternity leave will give you peace of mind. You won’t have to worry about going into debt just so you can spend time bonding with your new baby. Good luck soon-to-be mom and happy saving!
Related Post: How To Have A Baby On A Budget