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Unless you work for an employer that offers a generous maternity package, chances are when you take your maternity leave you will receive SMP.
Statutory Maternity Pay while okay, is something, it’s not a lot.
And it can be a bit of a shock to the system when your income drops, especially if you’re a dual full-time income household.
So what can you do to soften the blow financially?
Perform an Expenses Audit
What do I mean by expenses audit? Basically, going through your fixed expenses – line by line – and seeing if you can reduce them.
It’s a good idea to do this before baby comes so that any savings you do make will help you to bridge the gap when SMP kicks in.
Check you’re with the cheapest energy supplier*, cancel any unused subscriptions, consider downgrading your TV package (or switching to freeview) – basically go through your budget with a fine toothed comb and see where you can make some savings.
Save in Advance
Chances are when you’re actually on maternity leave, money will be too tight to save. So before baby arrives, while you still have both incomes, is an excellent time to ramp up your savings efforts.
Having a ‘maternity fund’ will give you peace of mind that you will be able to survive on the reduced income and have a pot there to dip into if you need it.
Live on One Income
If possible, trial living on your partner’s wage and transfer all of yours straight into savings as it is paid. That way it’s gone out of your current account and you won’t be tempted to use it.
If you can get used to making some adjustments, reining in your spending and saving the surplus before baby comes you will be in a much better position when you go on maternity leave.
Having a couple of months on this reduced income in advance will help ease you into the adjustment that comes with receiving SMP.
Look for Free Clubs
When baby comes, it can be tempting to want to go to every baby group going but the truth is, it’s not necessary and it costs a fortune!
Just a weekly music session can easily set you back £5-7, that’s not to mention any other groups you may want to attend.
Have a search for free groups in your local area – churches and church halls are always a great place to try, often their baby groups just ask for a small donation.
Also, search on facebook for baby groups in your area. You’ll find local mums sharing activities and events that they know of. It’s also a great place to get chatting to people too!
Arrange Free Play Dates
There’s this social pressure on new mums that they always have to be out and about. If they’re not, they fear being judged that their children aren’t socialising or developing as they should be. It’s sad, but it’s a stigma that remains.
But you don’t have to go out for lunch or meet mum friends for coffee dates, or take the babies swimming all the time.
Why not take turns to host play dates at home? And if the weather is good, pack a picnic and head to the local park.
Babies and toddlers actually require very little to keep them entertained.
I know my daughter would choose seeing the ducks at the pond over soft-play any day!
Don’t be a Brand Snob
Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better! Aldi nappies are far superior to most premium brands and less than a quarter of the cost.
Likewise supermarket label foods are just as nutritious as the top names but again a fraction of the price.
Make sensible swaps and save the money for when you need it.
Babies grow so quickly, they’re in and out of sizes in the blink of an eye. Instead of buying new and expensive labels for each growth spurt, have a look on Facebook and Ebay for preloved bundles.
You can also pick up toys and books secondhand, often as good as new!