Surviving the big financial drop whilst going on maternity leave is a legitimate money worry for many parents. When we started trying for a baby my wife got pregnant very quickly. It took us a mere six weeks. And as a result, we lost a bit of money. My wife is a nurse with the NHS. When we put the dates together after she got pregnant, it meant that she missed out on the NHS maternity pay by five weeks. FIVE WEEKS! If we had our daughter a little bit later we would’ve been roughly £3000 better off. So we had to get a little creative in order to survive financially during maternity leave.
How We Survived Financially During Maternity Leave
When my wife went on maternity leave we were looking at a £700/month short fall in our monthly income. That’s a lot of money. Don’t get me wrong, our income usually meant that we were comfortable enough anyway. We easily earned more than we actually needed. But £700 is a lot to be down for almost 8 months. Add it up, we were going to be down roughly £5600 to our usual income over the time she was off. How did we survive financially? Well, here’s how we saved money.
Trim the Bills
I often go through our monthly expenses and put an asterix by the things that are considered non-essesstials. In the end, we did away with almost everything we didn’t need. Sky TV went, Netflix went, monthly memberships went. The only thing we really kept was Spotify. £10 a month for all the music that I need and the ability to download it. I wasn’t losing that!
But even if you’re not tight for money I suggest you do this. It’s good to know how much you actually need to get by on just the bills. Then you can see what you’re paying, and if things look high, try to get them down. It usually pays to switch (more on that later) and If you see something you don’t use (gym memberships are common) then consider losing them.
Cashback Via Quidco
Quidco can be quite pointless when it comes to cashback. You’re not going to get by getting 13p back from a purchase on Groupon. But you can get by if you have capital to spare. We have quite a bit in savings. So I was able to use it to gain cashback via low risk avenues. Here’s what we did and the cashback we got:
- Opened Two ISAs = £320
- Investment Bond Account = £80
- Switched Broadband = £125
- Opened a Junior ISA for Isabelle = £50
- Balance Transfer Credit Cards = £60
- Signed up and Wagered on Six Gambling Websites = £315
That’s a total of £950! I will admit, that for the ISAs we had to invest £500 each and then £100/month for three months, that’s £1600 total. The investment bond needed £1000 deposited. The Junior ISA required £10/month. And the gambling websites required minimum deposits and minimum wagers, most of them were only around £10. I probably wouldn’t recommend gambling as you could risk losing your money that you deposited and not having the cashback track. But I opened the accounts for myself and my wife and earned at least my money back by doing the Martingale Method playing roulette. Then I had the cashback on top! I’m not saying you should do the same, but you are an adult, and you can make your own choices.
So you do have to have some money to be able to use in order to earn this cashback. But you can see that it’s well worth it if you do. If you want to try Quidco for yourself, then feel free to use this link. It’ll give you a £5 bonus once you’ve earned enough, but will also give me the same.
This isn’t a long term solution. As once you’ve signed up to something you’re done. But come April, we will be opening new ISAs and getting a few hundred in cashback once again.
Interest Free Credit Card
This one almost feels like cheating. As you’re not really getting by if all you’re doing is putting money on a card to be paid at a later date. But it’s a legitimate way of getting yourself through financial hardship when you know you’ll be ok in the near future. We only used this card when we had to, or for the odd trip, and knew whatever was on there didn’t have to be fully paid off for two years. By that time we’d be back in a comfortable position with the money.
But we’ve always been rather fortunate that we can use interest free credit cards as we’ve always had a really good credit score. I’m not sure what we would’ve done had it not been for that. I know you can still get a loan with bad credit. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking out a loan. Although I do understand that it’s not a black and white issue. We’ve been fortunate enough to never need them. Other people aren’t so lucky. And if we genuinely needed cash and didn’t have the cards and savings, I don’t know what we would do.
Selling Stuff on eBay
Before we had Isabelle I was massively into comic book stuff. As such I had spent quite a bit on stupidly expensive, albeit cool, figures and comic books. But having a baby changes what you think is important. So I started selling a lot of it.
This Deadpool figure sold for £400. And if you play eBay right, you can even avoid the 10% fees. I only ever sold the expensive items when I had a ‘only pay £1 when you sell’ deal available to me. So rather than pay £40 in fees for Deadpool, I paid £1. Do that with a Woman Woman figure (£300), Deadpool Pencil Cup (£250) and loads of other figures and comic books and I brought home quite a bit of cash for a relatively small fee.
I’m not saying you should sell all your stuff to get by. But I simply looked at a lot of what I had and thought “do I really want any of this?” The answer was no. I would suggest that you do the same. You might not gain loads, but you’ll clear some space and get some cash to go with it. Besides, minimalism is cool these days.
Switch Bank Accounts
Been with the same bank account for quite a while? Then perhaps it’s time for a switch. I moved from Halifax to a different bank and earned myself £125 then a further £35 for opening up a credit card with them. If both of you do it then that’s a nice easy £320! These days loyalty simply doesn’t pay. Wondering who to switch to? Well as usual, the Money Saving Expert has you covered!
This is a little bit of a silly suggestion, but one that does help. Picking up the odd bit of overtime with work can help you make up a little bit of the difference with the loss in money. But I don’t think it’s something you should do unless you really need it. Doing overtime, as the name suggests, means you’ll probably be working over your time. As such you’re missing out on quality family time during maternity leave. So really think about whether that extra bit of cash is really worth missing out on time with the new baby.
For me, I’m in a job where I can run around to get done early. So I can do a little bit of overtime and still be done before my actual finish time. But I’m incredibly lucky being a postman.
When we go shopping we don’t always take a list. Not only that, but we don’t always plan our meals out either. We tend to just wing it and buy what we fancy. When we shop like that it never looks good. We spend a lot more than we should and we often end up having to do an extra shop in the week in order to pick up stuff we missed.
If you really want to save money on a weekly basis, start meal planning. Work out what you’re having on what days and what you actually need when you shop. You can always try online shopping too so you can see what you’re paying before you check out. That’s one of the reasons I love ‘Scan as you Shop’ with Tesco. Being able to see the cost as you’re going around helps prevent an unexpectedly high spend.
That’s It! That’s how we Survived Financially During Maternity Leave
Well that’s it. That’s how we survived financially whilst facing a £700/month drop in our monthly income during maternity leave. I’m not sure all of these methods will work for you, but there might be something that you can try in order to get by. And if you’re not struggling, then you can still make savings, or make some extra cash via Quidco. All I can say is I’m glad my wife is back in work, at least in terms of our finances. Still, children have a lovely way of costing money, so I dare say I’ll still have to stay sharp.
Have any advice that got you by during maternity leave? Feel free to let me know in the comments below!
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