When you are pregnant or your wife is expecting, there are countless concerns. One of the most critical may be how to pay your bills and cover expenses while you are not working once the baby arrives.
Some parents receive full or partial pay during maternal or paternal leave, while others do not. Perhaps you want to take additional time off without pay. Whatever your situation, there are ways you can plan ahead to save money for your parental leave.
Get a handle on how much you actually spend each month. Most people are surprised when they start reviewing their monthly spending. Start with recurring bills. Then, move on to discretionary spending like eating out, entertainment, clothing purchases, etc. There are dozens of software programs and downloadable spreadsheets that can help you with this. Evaluate at least three months of spending to get an accurate picture.
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Once you have a clear picture of what you need each month, compare it to what your actual income will be while on leave. Whatever the shortfall is, that is how much you need to save. If the numbers do not seem doable, you need to make some changes.
Trimming your budget down to the essentials or what you are not willing to do without is a way to save without having to find the extra cash. Consider trimming the fat wherever you can. Eat out less, opt for television or renting a movie at home instead of going to the theater, skip manicures and pedicures, and pack your lunch for work instead of buying food. You can also cancel subscription services and handle some tasks yourself.
Paying interest fees for credit cards and other loans quickly raises your monthly expenses. There are a number of ways you can reduce your monthly payments, including:
Set up a bank account for all the money you save between now and your maternity leave. Keeping it in a separate account makes it more concrete. You are less inclined to spend that bit of extra money you save by skipping dinner at a restaurant if you take that money and deposit it in your parental leave account. Watching the account grow may motivate you to save more.
It is easy to spend more than you intended at the grocery store or mall. Taking a list and sticking to it helps. Before going to the mall, assess your wardrobe. Do you really need another pair of boots? Can you work with what you have? If you must have a particular item, visit consignment shops, where you can find gently used clothing at bargain prices.
Most people overspend on groceries because they buy impulsively and because they purchase food they never use. Planning out your meals a week in advance, making a list and sticking to it minimize impulse purchases that lead to wasted food. Stick to fresh foods and prepare your meals rather than relying on pre-made meals.
Join a warehouse club and buy non-perishable items in bulk. Toilet paper, cleaning products, cooking oil and other items can be bought at great prices. The bonus? Is that you will be stocked up and will not have to find time to go to the store as often when the baby arrives.
If you have paid vacation time, save it up and tack it onto the end of your parental leave to extend your time off without losing any income. Many companies may offer flex hours for new parents as well. Take the time well in advance to speak with your company to find out what sort of work arrangements may be possible.
Furnishing a nursery can get expensive, yet your baby will soon outgrow his or her crib and changing table. Visit consignment stores for quality pieces and check them for safety before buying. You can also stock the closets with second-hand baby clothes you find at yard sales and at second-hand shops.
This is not a long-term solution, but it can quickly add up if you do this for a month or two. For those weeks, skip the lattes at the coffee shop, forego dining out and buy only essential groceries. Do not make mindless purchases like a candy bar when you stop for gas. Skip a new tablecloth or a new holiday wreath. Any time you get change back from a needed purchase, collect it in a jar rather than leave it lying around.
Not everyone is a fan of garage or yard sales, but the months during a pregnancy are the ideal time to get rid of extra stuff in your house to make room for the baby who will take up a lot of space. If you are emptying out a guest room or transforming a storage space into a nursery, turn the furniture and decor into potential cash. Also, consider selling sporting equipment you may not be using, books you have already read and old movies. You can hang out in your front yard for two days in the summer and end up with a few hundred extra dollars and less clutter.
If you are feeling healthy and have your doctor’s approval, consider taking on some additional work you can do from home until the baby is born. Whether it is editing reports for your main job or helping college students prepare their resumes, you can earn some extra funds for your new account. Do you have a special talent you could use to help others? You could tutor high school students, make crafts to sell online or at local fairs or babysit for friends. Take some time to brainstorm your skills and see how you could make some money.
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