I recently took part in a tots100 twitter chat about money-saving. I realised throughout the conversation that I had quite a few money saving tips. This is something I am particularly conscious about during my maternity leave; the longer I am off, the less money I get, and eventually the money will stop. It’s not nice when you have to factor in your finances when you just want to spend time with your baby, but the fact is, if I run out of money, I will have to return to work, and that is the last thing I want to do before my year is out.
For me, this year is more than just being a Mum; it’s about taking time to be yourself, focusing on what’s important, and not having to worry about the stresses and strains that work can bring. There is a lot of debate at the moment about working vs staying at home parents. I love my job as a nurse and working with patients is very rewarding. I know I will have to return to work as I am the one who earns the most money. I am OK with this in one respect as I worked very hard to get where I am in my vocation, but on the other hand I do feel sad that for me, there is no real choice. We rent our house and if we want any chance of getting a mortgage and continuing to save for a deposit I need to return to work full-time. Anyone who says looking after your children at home is easy, probably hasn’t had one. The last 8 weeks have been a challenge and I can see that whilst it does get easier, the challenges still arise for you to overcome whatever age. There have been times in the last 8 weeks I have thought about going back to work just for a break! Even going back to work takes some thinking about, as costs of childcare are a big chunk of your wage. It is not an easy decision to make but I am holding off thinking about the realities of that for now. This year, for me, is more important than ever and I want to enjoy every moment. This means thinking ahead with regards to money is really important each month I get my wages. I don’t know whether I will get this chance again so I want to enjoy it and not stress!
In case it is useful for anyone else out there here is what I have done/am doing/am planning to do with regards to money, money saving, and all that jazz to make this maternity leave a success.
Having a baby is an expensive time and there is no getting away from that. But I think it is up to you how expensive you want to make it. All babies need the essentials – nappies, wipes or cotton wool, clothes, somewhere to sleep and if required feeding equipment. All the other bits and pieces are lovely, but you don’t *need* them. Of course you want to buy things but I would say hold off, as there are probably a lot of family members who want to buy something or may want to contribute to something you want. Save the things you’d like for people to buy you, rather than spending your own money on these.
Spread the cost
During my pregnancy I focused on buying things that I would need once the baby came. Every shop at the supermarket I started to buy a few baby wipes if they were on offer, or nappies, nappy sacks, creams, etc. This way it was just a few pounds added on the shopping, but now the baby is here I have quite a few packs of wipes and creams to work my way through!
Free Baby Things
By joining baby clubs you can get free samples and some give you a free gift for signing up. These are also great ways of getting money off coupons, and finding out about baby events when the shops do some money-saving deals.
Sainsbury’s Little Ones – Nectar card members can get a free gift when they join the baby club
Asda baby and Toddler club – sign up and get a free gift
Boots Parenting Club – get extra advantage points on baby products and a free changing bag
Tesco Baby and Toddler Club – Get vouchers and free parking permit for the parent parking
Aptamil baby club – I got a free cuddly toy and tea and bath products sent to me
Mothercare Baby and Me Club – Money off vouchers and invite to in store events where you can get freebies and advice
Emma’s Diary – You can pick up a pack of goodies from Argos or superdrug when you join and I was also sent a free sample pack from Johnson’s because I had signed up with them.
I also got free samples by looking on specific brand websites such as nappy creams, nappies, etc
Bepanthen – free sample on their website
There are a load of competitions out there which are baby related. There are many on blogs (see my favourite blogs post for some to get you started) and many brands and companies do competitions through twitter or Facebook. I have won bibs, tickets to the baby show, shoes, clothes, toiletries and books doing competitions on twitter. If you search #win or #RTtowin on twitter a lot of competitions will crop up to look through. Or a site like twitninja shows you what competitions are out there. Beware though, it will fill your followers timelines! Websites such as Direct2Mum are great for competitions (I won a maternity dress on there!) and bounty also have loads of competitions on their website. I think you may as well be in it to win it!
Pay off any debts if you can during pregnancy
I prioritized paying off my credit cards during my pregnancy. This would free up money in my pay packet and would mean I didn’t ‘owe’ anyone anything once I was on maternity leave. I was lucky in that I had paid off my small student loan by the time I was pregnant and was nearing finishing the payments on my car too. This meant in theory I have more money in my pay packet than I did before. As I was used to paying this amount out of my pay packet I put the money I had extra into savings.
Get Utility Bills Sorted
Make sure that you are on the right tariffs for gas and electric and get in the habit of taking your gas and electric meter readings to ensure you get accurate bills. You also have to factor in higher heating and electric bills as you are at home all day and so they will go up.
Use Apps to make savings and get offers
I use apps all the time to get money off, special offers and sometimes even free things. I am with O2 for my mobile phone, and o2 Moments app gives you special offers, deals and money off. This is especially good for things such as restaurants, cinema and shopping deals. Download the apps for your favourite brands and sign up for newsletters for special offers and discounts.
Nectar app is a good way to get bonus nectar points on your shopping and the search facility within it also earns you extra points. Your Gas and Electric meter readings can also accrue nectar points.
Some employers have deals with local businesses so check out with HR or on the weekly newsletter or notice boards if there are any deals – I have had discounted Gym membership through this, for example.
If you are an NHS Employee you can get discounts as high street shops and restaurants,and usually in businesses local to the hospital, if you show your work ID. I have had reduced cost hair cuts doing this for example. Show your card in high street shops that accept student cards as they may also accept your card.
Also, if family members work for some companies there can be incentives or money off deals for the family on days out etc.
Do You Have Any Money Tips?
So this is what I have done and am doing with regards to money during my maternity leave. I am sure I have probably missed some things out so I’ll add more posts if I think of any more. If you have any money-saving tips or advice for others then let me know and I’ll add it to the post. Most of all, enjoy maternity leave and try not to worry about money too much! That’s what I’m trying to do anyway!