Money Matters: How to Stretch Your Maternity Pay

If you’re currently on maternity leave – or you’re about to embark on it – congratulations! This is arguably one of the most exciting stages of your life. It can also be the most difficult, with plenty of new challenges ahead of you, on top of one too many sleepless nights.

You may feel overwhelmed financially, too. For many, maternity pay (or maternity allowance, if you’re self-employed) will barely cover your usual monthly outgoings, as well as any necessary purchases for your new addition.

In the second post in our ‘Money Matters’ series, then, we offer some practical tips on how you can stretch your maternity pay as much as possible. Read on…

Save, Save, Save!

Not yet started your maternity leave? Now’s the time to save as much money as you can. Although you will receive maternity pay, it will stand you in good stead if you are able to put some extra funds aside. This will no doubt give you a little more breathing space, should you require it, while you’re looking after your bundle of joy.

Consider cancelling unused subscriptions now (will you really have time to attend the gym once you’re in the throes of new parenthood?!) and make the most of coupons, money-off deals and more.

Need essential kit for your baby? You will find that friends and family members with children who are long out of nappies might be keen to pass on everything from pre-loved clothing to nursery items – either for free or for next to nothing. People are all too happy to declutter their homes and make some money in the process, so it could be worth dropping into conversation what’s on your shopping list for you little one. You just never know who has something they no longer need that they would be keen to let go of.

“It’s amazing how many family members start knitting the moment you tell them you’re expecting” said Lauren, 38, from Lancaster.  “Our baby was born in winter, so the homemade cardigans, hats, gloves, and blankets came in so handy. I don’t think we’ve had to buy a single piece of knitwear for our son!”

Don’t forget to also make the most of online selling sites and apps, like Facebook Marketplace, Shpock, Vinted and eBay, for all kinds of nearly-new parent and baby items.

Sharon, 35, from Chester, has two children under two years old. She says: “Baby and toddler events and sales are always good for saving money. Items like Bumbos [baby seats] and Jumparoos [baby bouncers] can be expensive, but you can pick them up for a fraction of the price.”

Look into child support payments, too. The site has all the information you need regarding eligibility – find out more.

Set Up a Budget

When you’re about to approach your maternity leave start date, consider setting up a basic budget on Excel, to help you better manage your finances once the baby’s here. Don’t do it too close to your maternity leave, though; you may instead be ready to put your feet up.

Jodie, 28, from Morecambe, says, “I budget myself with my bills and outgoings every month; I work out what’s left and split it weekly, then I have a set amount of money to spend each week.”

It may be a tried and tested solution, says Jodie, but it’s one which works well – even before she began her maternity leave. “I move any money that’s left over after I’ve budgeted for essentials, and I try not to dip into it unless I absolutely need to. I always do a family food schedule, planning what meals I’ll cook and when, and I make a shopping list accordingly, so that I don’t over-buy.”

Lynsey, 39, from Grimsby, employs the same tactic. She says: “I write my budget down in a notebook – it helps me be more aware of what I’ll be paid on maternity leave and how far I can stretch it. I also write down other expenses I know are coming up, such as the MOT for my car. I sometimes go off plan and get stressed, but the budgeting helps me get back on track. It also means I don’t buy anything on credit.”

‘Make Do and Mend’

Suzie, 42, from Hastings, says she has a ‘make do and mend’ attitude while on maternity leave, saying luxury purchases can be less tempting when you have a little one to think about:

“We gave up all kinds of things [while on maternity leave] that we thought we needed before. Kitchen roll being one of the things I can remember. I know it sounds daft, but there are plenty of items you just don’t need, when you think about it – like different cleaning products for each room of the house, ‘convenience’ items like snacks bought on the go, takeaway coffees and the like. We also got rid of our second car – and we don’t buy any big items brand new anymore.”

Find Out More About ‘Keeping in Touch’ Days

If you’re employed, you will probably be aware that you can top up your maternity pay by arranging with your employer to schedule some ‘Keeping in Touch’ (KiT) days in the diary.

What are KiT days?

Designed to help you ease yourself back into the world of work, KiT days can be taken anytime outside the first two weeks after your baby is born. They won’t interrupt your maternity pay and you should be paid for them, which will give you a healthier financial buffer while you’re looking after your baby.

You don’t have to do any KiT days, but if you want, you can take up to 10 of them before you return to work permanently. Not only will it provide you with some extra funds, but it should also help make the transition to work post-baby a little less daunting.

If you’re self-employed, you can also take up to 10 KiT days – FreeAgent has some more info.

Create Good Habits

If you’re stretching your maternity pay to its limit, it can seem like an absolute no-go to put money aside for your child’s future too, but by creating good habits now, you’ll thank yourself later.

Can you or your partner forgo one small treat per month and instead put, say, £5 in a child’s saving account? There are plenty to choose from and they are designed to help you grow your children’s pot for a healthier financial future for your son(s) or daughter(s).

Are you on maternity leave? What are your top tips for saving money? Or perhaps you have no plans to go on maternity but have some money-saving tips others can benefit from. After all, many of these tips apply to everyone. Let us know by commenting below – and don’t forget to get in touch if you’d like to learn more about our financial products, as well as their terms and conditions, here at Unity Mutual.

Until next time…



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