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My name is Victoria Sully and I am married to Ben. We have two children called Bella and Reuben and we live in Gloucestershire, UK. I’m a full-time blogger, but before having my first child I worked at Superdry head office as a samples manager. I’d worked there for nine years and always thought I’d work there forever.
I started before the Superdry brand was even born and it was a shop called Cult Clothing. I started in the shop and then got offered a job at head office in ecommerce before moving to manage the retail samples. I’d been in this role for around 18 months before I left to go on maternity leave with my first child.
I took one year’s maternity leave and I was never 100% sure that I’d return to my role after the maternity leave ended. I actually decided to hand my notice in after around 9 months of maternity leave as we made the decision for me not to return to work. My role as a manager was full-time and often required last minute overtime. I would not have been able to commit to the role as I had pre-baby and I also didn’t want to put my baby in 50 hours of childcare per week.
We’d have required 8am-6pm each day, so 50 hours per week. My commute was around 45 minutes and so I’d have not seen my daughter all week as I’d be leaving the house at 7am to take her to nursery and not getting home until almost 7pm when it was her bedtime. I just wasn’t ready to make that leap so knew I had to do something else.
Another off-putting factor was the cost of the full-time nursery fees. We’d have only been left with a couple of hundred pounds from my wages each month after the childcare costs. I just couldn’t justify not seeing Bella all week and only having a couple of hundred pounds to show for it. We decided we’d be no worse off at that point in time if I did something else to make up the couple of hundred pounds and any extra money would be a bonus in comparison.
I’d already started a small home business selling handmade cards, jewellery and fashion accessories and I hoped I could build this up to a sustainable part time income. I had also registered to do a childminding course with the council and was looking for a part time evening job, so I had plenty of plans in place to not return to work.
No, we decided for me to leave altogether as it seemed the most logical thing to do at the time with regards to finances and wanting to care for my daughter myself in the daytimes. My wage at the time wasn’t exceptional and childcare costs were high.
We tried to save as much money as possible from the moment we knew we were expecting. Of course we had no idea how much it would cost to have a baby. We just saved as best we could. We also started stocking up on things in advance such as baby wipes, nappies and clothes for several ages so as we had a good head start on supplies when baby arrived.
I have a few! They didn’t cost too much each, but nonetheless they were still a waste of money.
The first would be the baby bath with top’n’tail bowl. We used the sink to bath and then found an ergonomic seat in the bath was so much easier. We never even used the top’n’tail bowl.
Cheap baby carriers were also a waste of money. I tried 3 with Bella and she hated them. With Reuben I researched and paid over £100 for a very recommended brand and he loved the carrier. It was really comfortable and I should have just paid more for a better one with Bella.
A nappy bin was also a waste of money! We lived on the first floor so thought it would save us the hassle of going downstairs, but I don’t think it kept all the smell out and we ended up taking the nappies down to the outside bins regularly anyway.
I don’t remember us struggling when we had our first child, but we lived in a really affordable flat. I started working a part time job as soon as my daughter was one and though we never had a lot of money, we were fine each month. With my second, we noticed a difference. We’d moved into our first owned house together by this point so had a higher mortgage to pay, higher bills and some debt. We were fine for the first few months, but then began to struggle. Money was very tight and we were going over our monthly income some months.
My husband actually went to his HR department and said ‘I need more money, what can you do?!’ They took a look and they let him stop making pension contributions for three months so we could get back on track. This really helped out at this point. I then cut my hoped year’s maternity short and started working after around 8 months.
I’d definitely save a lot more money! I’d start saving way in advance to stop money being so tight whilst on maternity leave. I am self-employed now and I work from home. I’d probably take a much shorter maternity leave if we had another child so we can maintain our normal income.
Just go with the flow and remember you have options. Parenthood really changes you and your priorities. You may think you want to return to work, but then realise you want to stay with baby full-time for longer or vice-versa. There’s no right or wrong. It’s whatever you want to do. Everyone is different. You might be desperate to return to work!
There are lots of other opportunities aside from having to return to work after maternity leave if you don’t want to return. I always thought I had to either return to my job or be a stay-at-home mum. But I managed to retrain and work an evening job instead of returning to my old company so I could look after my first child in the day times which is what I wanted to do. I then managed to set up my own business and work from home which is something that having children gave me the inspiration to do.
My favourite money saving tip has to be to use cashback sites. We’ve been using them for around three years now and we must be at £1000 in cashback for things we’d buy anyway! I check the sites for everything we buy online – hotels, holidays, insurance, groceries, eBay shopping, energy switches. I’ve even booked MOTS through the cashback sites to get a few quid back! It’s amazing how quickly it all adds up. We get a good chunk every time we switch car insurance and home insurance provider each year.
Thank you so much for taking part Victoria!
If you’d like to find out more about Victoria you can follow her on social media.
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!