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How to survive on a maternity leave budget

Maternity leave is a brilliant opportunity to spend as much time as you can bonding with your little one but it isn’t without worries. Having had to return to a job three months earlier than planned due to finances, I know that budgeting can really help.

Having returned to work twice, first to a full-time office job, and then to freelancing, I know that both have their upsides and downsides.

When I went back to my office job, it was heavily restructured, as was the team I worked with. Things never felt the same and I wished that I could have afforded more time off to spend with my baby. It was hard and I ended up being signed off, thankfully with pay.

My second return to work was easier as I can work flexibly but I had to make sure my clients were kept happy. Having swapped between the two ways of working, budgeting is more important than ever.

Money worries can be very stressful and make sleeping even more difficult than it already is with a newborn. However, with a few simple techniques you can manage your budget well enough to last you until you have to return to work. I know statutory maternity pay isn’t brilliant but if you want to make money stretch then maybe this will work for you too.

I’ve come up with a few tips….

Save beforehand. Even if you pop away £100 – £200 a month by the end of 8 months that’s bumping up statutory maternity pay by the same amount every month. If you can pop away more that is fab.

Buy baby clothes in the sale. Babies need less clothing than you think. I bought out of season stock when they were on sale. Car boots, baby sales etc. are a great place to save money too. Try and do this before maternity leave so you are set up before SMP hits you hard.

Contact your bill suppliers. Check your gas and electric standing orders. We now get a dual fuel discount by using the same supplier for both. For our TV package I talked to them about maternity leave and funds available and they kicked a whopping £30 off a tv/phone and broadband package.

Meal planning. Plan your weekly meals and shop accordingly. I’m currently saving between £20-30 a week by buying in from a meal plan list rather than adding all my favourites to a basket. Pinterest is great for new ideas if you feel like you can spend a little time to try something new.

Take a mortgage holiday. At the end of my first maternity leave my mortgage company let me take a month’s holiday and repay the amount once I had returned to work. This saved us £500 when funds were low.

Tell family you need a break from presents this Christmas. Handmade gifts for each family member or give a token donation to charity instead. Everyone feels the pinch towards the Christmas season so they might be glad of you saying so too.

Think about when you’ll return to work. Don’t forget you can extend time off with their permission. You accrue bank holidays while you are on maternity leave and holiday so don’t be afraid to use that towards a few paid weeks off at the start of your return to work. I did this as most nurseries ask for a month in advance and a deposit which is a shock to the system when you are budgeting from a small amount anyway.

Do you have any budget saving tips you could share?