One of the most common problems we have whilst having a baby and on maternity leave is cash flow. You’ve just spent money on all the things you need for a baby, which is always more expensive than you think (especially once they actually arrive), and then your earnings start reducing. What if you had some savings to back you up during your maternity leave?
Perhaps like me, you relied on unsocial hours whilst you were working, and now it’s basic wage. Are you now on statutory maternity pay? It’s always an adjustment. Here is your four step plan to not just keeping your head above water but also building a buffer of savings in case of emergency.
Step one: Plan
Your maternity pay, both from your employer and from the government, will be calculated as an average of your earnings during a qualifying period. Check the link on the UK government website here to see the details of when yours will be according to your due date. Once you know when that week is, if you have any opportunity to do overtime or unsocial hours, do it in that period. Your maternity pay will be bumped up a bit.
How’s your credit score? Is it as good as it could be? If you ever want to buy something and pay in instalments, or borrow money with a decent interest rate, you’ll need a good credit score. Polar Credit is worth using if you need to borrow money, as it aims to bridge the gap to mainstream finance so responsible borrowers can progress to lower cost credit and not pay the higher fees associated with payday lending, whilst also rebuilding their credit rating.
Step two: Save
As soon as you know you are pregnant, start saving a proportion of your salary if you can. I’ve been using Plum, which saves automatically for you, according to your bank balance. You can withdraw the money at any time, and it updates you every day with your balance and when they are going to withdraw, so you always know what’s going on. I’ve saved loads with them. You can sign up with Plum via my referral link.
If you have any debts with interest, pay those off first. If you can, transfer any credit cards with interest to an interest free credit card.
Step three: be frugal
I know it’s hard, when everyone else seems to have the latest perfect interior, designer baby clothes and more, but often life isn’t what it seems and they could be putting themselves into debt trying to keep up. For the vast majority, it’s a time to be frugal and thrifty. Buy second hand where you can, meal plan and write lists for food shopping, cut down on luxuries. You’ll be spending less on going out, but maybe more on online shopping! Try to curb your spending habits. Write down all your in comings and outgoings and see if there’s anywhere you can cut back.
Check when your insurances come up for renewal and make sure you get the best deals. Are you on the right tariff and best provider for your utility bills? Do you have Sky TV or Virgin TV? Consider switching to Freeview and Netflix for example, they’re much cheaper.
Step four: side hustle
You’ve had a baby and you have enough to do. Don’t feel like you have to complete this last step, but if you want to dabble in a side hustle or two before you go back to work (or alongside it), then have a look at my post Ways to Make Money During Maternity Leave for some ideas. It can help you feel in control of your finances, even if it’s just a little.
This post is in collaboration with Polar credit. All opinions are my own.