Ensure that all your maternity leave pay doesn't go into funding nappies by setting a budgetary plan in place before bub arrives!
"To make the most of your maternity leave and potentially even build your savings, set a financial plan and have some smart budgeting tricks up your sleeve," suggests Katie Hume, Marketing Communications Manager of Airtasker. "That way, you can pare down on your spending but still enjoy the little indulgences in life."
Here are some tips to budgeting for your maternity leave:
1. Check Your Entitlements
It’s important to understand how your income will be affected once you take time off to have a baby, Katie says. "Talk to your employer about your maternity leave and paid leave entitlements, as well as conditions for annual and unpaid leave." You could also be eligible for government benefits such as the Parental leave Pay, Katie points out, so contact the Department of Human Services for more information about what you are entitled to. "Now’s the time to ask all of the necessary questions and get your ducks in a row."
2. Forecast Spending
Planning ahead is imperative. Find out all the costs associated during and post pregnancy, and list them all on an excel spreadsheet. "From doctor and hospital bills to maternity clothes and baby equipment, try to be as detailed as possible," Katie encourages. "Ask friends who have had children to see if you’ve missed anything and in the meantime, seek out their budgeting tips too. Separate essentials and 'nice-to-haves' for easy reference."
3. Track & Budget
"Once you have a clear idea of all your upcoming expenses, it’s time to start tracking your current spending to see potential areas where you can save," Katie says. "Do this diligently for at least two weeks to get a proper picture of spending patterns," she advises, adding that you may be surprised to discover there are certain items you are splurging on that aren’t necessities. "Once you are organised on that front, create a detailed budget plan that’s suited to your income and lifestyle, and stick to it."
4. Sell Items Online
A new family member heralds a perfect chance to de-clutter your home and give it a good spring clean so you can make space for your new family member. In the process, you may discover old or unused items that you can sell online! "This is a quick and easy way to make some extra money to supplement your income," encourages Katie. "The tip for selling items efficiently is to take good quality pictures and include as much detail as possible in your listing."
5. Consider Second Hand
One of the best ways to budget is to buy second-hand goods, and opting for second-hand products doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice on quality, assures Katie. "Shop around online or visit second-hand baby stores to try score a good bargain." Alternatively, use your social media networks to see if there are family or friends who can lend, or sell, you hand-me-downs, she suggests. "This is particularly ideal for items that you will only be using temporarily such as maternity and baby clothes."
6. Hit 'Subscribe'
Little savings here and there do add up, and Katie notes that many websites are offering good discounts or coupons on a wide variety of things, from grocery goods to electronics, which can prove windfalls during maternity leave. "Keep an eye out for these as you may find a few good gems," she says. "It’s also worth subscribing to your favourite retailers - including baby suppliers - as companies often notify their customer database of exclusive deals, discounts and offers via email first."
7. Shop Smart
So you’ve sorted out the second-hand items you can get your hands on, but there’s still a list of new items you need to purchase? Do your research before you go shopping and make sure you’ve looked at competitor suppliers to compare prices as some retailers price match, Katie explains. "If you’re heading to IKEA to sort out bub’s new room, create your IKEA shopping game plan by writing a list of only the must-haves as we all know how distracted we can get at that place!"
8. Socialise Strategically
Just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean you need to cancel all your social engagements. Instead of pricey brunch at your local café, why not entertain at home? Or in a local park with BYO baby snacks? Investing in a coffee machine is also a smart move pre-baby as you are often confined to the house when you need your morning caffeine hit. Brew one up at home, save yourself the stress of having to hot-foot it to the cafe with a baby each morning and pop all the coins you save in a jar to go towards your next much-needed massage, manicure or makeover!