Mummy’s Money #6 – Meet Melissa from Skinny Spending

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In this week’s Mummy’s Money, we’re talking to the lovely Melissa from Skinny Spending about her maternity finances.

You can find all the other posts in the series here

Introduce Yourself

I’m Melissa, a 40 year old mum of one who runs the money saving blog Skinny Spending. I’m a qualified primary school teacher working as an educational consultant. I deliver teaching and staff training in different schools rather than working in one place which makes it a very flexible job for part time work. I also get all the school holidays too which is ideal.

How long after baby was born, did you return to work (if you did)?

9 months – just as the unpaid leave would have kicked in. I had accrued enough holidays to work 2 days a week but be paid for 3 which was a nice way to ease myself back in.

Did you change/reduce your hours?

Yes. My initial reaction/panic was “I can’t afford to go part time, I’ve just taken a big wage cut changing jobs!” This quickly changed for both emotional and practical reasons. I couldn’t imagine being away from my baby every day and I was lucky that we could afford that choice. Also, the cost of nursery meant that I would be working for an extra £40 a month after the fees rather than dropping a day. £10 extra a week or a day off with my daughter? It was a no-brainer. Not to mention trying to get out the house on time, illness free, 5 days a week!

Four days still seemed like more or less full time though, and having worked out we could just about survive on 3 days of my income on top of my husband’s salary, I was over the moon when my company agreed. I am really lucky to have a job that lends itself to this flexibility. I decided to work Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays which gives me a long weekend but also covers the most popular days schools request our services, so it’s win/win.

How did you prepare (if you did) for maternity finances and leave?

Getting pregnant was a very welcome surprise, so we hadn’t prepared anything beforehand. We had also just extended the house, which was very well timed but obviously a big financial commitment. On my then full time wage I was able to save up £700 a month as soon as we discovered I was pregnant. My husband also took on some of the bills I was paying such as my car insurance. On top of maternity pay this was enough to see me through. I also saved a lot of monthly expenditure naturally as things like nights out, drinking and music gigs were off the table!

What was your biggest waste of money, baby related purchase?

I’ve had to really think about this because we were really careful. I’d research the products I really wanted and ensure we got them for the best price with discounts or cashback. I was already skeptical of anything unnecessary, and we also got a lot of hand me downs from family.

I think going overboard with toys in general is probably the biggest waste, especially when children are very young. There are definitely some toys that have barely been played with in our house.

Did you struggle with the drop in income to maternity finances?

Yes. I found that where I used to stick things on my credit card and pay it off easily, I now did not have the funds to do so. But at the end of the month I was almost always out of money and it was essentials such as petrol going on credit. I used to justify it by thinking it wasn’t frivolous things, however this didn’t make it any easier to pay back! Luckily I am now one month away from clearing the card, and manage my money much more effectively these days.

What did you do to manage the drop in income?

For a while – nothing other than feel sorry for myself and think there was nothing to be done! Then when I discovered the uk debt free community and ways to side hustle some extra cash, I can’t believe the difference it has made. My whole attitude to money, buying “stuff” and having debt has changed and becoming debt free is a challenge I have almost completed. My blog documents my money saving and money making tips as well as my journey to become debt free.

What would you/did you do differently, if you could do it all again?

Slow down and stop trying to fulfil my own expectations. I wanted to be the mum pushing the nice pram round the shops enjoying a coffee – the image of motherhood / maternity leave I had envied for so long – but there’s plenty of time for all that. It doesn’t really work with a newborn when you’re breastfeeding on demand after 2 hours sleep. And despite what I thought beforehand, maternity leave is a bit more demanding than shopping and coffee, who would have known!

Any advice for mums to be?

Big cliché but appreciate your sleep! And just having time to yourself. Read, go to the cinema, binge watch a box set. People told me this and how my life would change and you nod along not really understanding and think you’ll be the exception to the rule. And then you realise they were right all along! Also, take the baby books with a pinch of salt rather than trying to follow everything to the letter.

And finally, what is your favourite money saving tip? (doesn’t have to be baby related)

What has really worked for me in terms of managing my money is the “piggy-banking” system. I opened several online saver accounts under my main current account and was able to divide my income into different spending pots for petrol, groceries, spending money, etc. It stopped me over estimating how much money I had spare and meant I was finally able to stop reaching for my credit card at the end of the month.

Thank you!

Thank you so much for taking part Melissa and telling us about your maternity finances!
If you’d like to find out more about Melissa you can follow her on social media.

Blog – Skinny Spending
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Hi! I'm Katie

I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!