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I started this blog to share money saving tips and tricks that I have picked up since going on maternity leave and our income significantly dropping; so I thought it was about time I shared a bit more of my story here.
Life and Finances pre-baby
Before I was pregnant, I was earning a good enough wage in Accounts and hubby worked for the NHS. Collectively our income wasn’t bad. Then in August last year, I was promoted into a secondment role and my salary significantly increased. Meaning we had lots of disposable income, and as a result we were not really concerned with our spending – our mortgage was low, and all our bills could be covered by Hubby’s salary (with money to spare), so effectively we had my salary to play with.
We used to go to lots of gigs, to racedays and have overnight/weekend breaks that could cost a couple of hundred pound a time. We ate out a lot (as well as a lot of takeaways), I liked buying bits and pieces for the house and we put some money into savings. In short, we weren’t shy about spending, but we weren’t reckless either.
Life and Finances on Maternity Leave
And then maternity leave happened. My workplace paid Statutory Maternity so the first 6 weeks at 90% was alright, but then the weekly £140 after that was a bit of an adjustment. We stopped going out anyway (yes, I didn’t want to leave the baby) and 3 lots of gigs we had planned before Elise was born just didn’t happen (I still wince at the money we wasted on tickets – how naive I was to think I’d simply carry on the way I was before baby…) so we saved money there.
But then obviously, our food bill increased with needing nappies, formula etc and our gas and electricity went through the roof. Our direct debit in November last year was £76 a month for the two combined, it’s now £126 a month, increasing to an eye watering £149 on October 1st. (Elise had very bad reflux until very recently, so the washing machine and tumble dryer was on constant… and we also had that bizarre snow storm in December and then again in March so the heating was on constant then too).
That said, we managed quite well. I’ve always been fairly savvy with finances in the sense that if there’s a deal or a money off voucher to be had, I’ll use it. And I tend to shop around for things – I’ve never been a brand snob with our food or anything like that, so we were already used to eating frugally (when we ate at home that is!). The baby meant there was less time for us to do the things we’d usually do and spend money on. And nights out just became a thing of the past – no more spending £100+ on a rugby all-dayer or drinks out with friends. We also saved money on fuel, as one car wasn’t really being used and me being at home meant I was better at preparing lunch for hubby to take to work so that Morrisons every lunch time became less of a temptation. We also started shopping at Lidl and Aldi more, simply because they’re the closest supermarkets to us.
Returning to Work
I’ve mentioned numerous times that I’m going back to work on 1st October when Elise will be 9.5 months old (which I’m very excited about obviously…*cries*) and when I do, not only will I be returning to my old, pre-secondment role and salary, but I am reducing my hours. Instead of full time, I will be working Mon-Weds – so 24 hours a week. This was the solution that made most financial sense to us. We are in a very fortunate position that my mother in law will be looking after the baby while I’m in work. If we had childcare to pay for, I think we’d be considering whether returning to work was even an option.
The other spanner in the budget works is that hubby has now left his job in the NHS and has returned to education full time to study to be a paramedic. Fortunately the course is fully funded, and he is entitled to some financial support, but effectively he isn’t working either. So two full time incomes have turned into 1 part time income and a full time student. So my wage needs to stretch far enough to cover everything.
Preparing for Maternity Leave
My biggest regret is that we didn’t do more to prepare for maternity leave. In fact, we didn’t really do anything. Like I said, we did have some savings, but we really could’ve knuckled down and put a lot more away while we were both earning and while my wage was higher.
Next time around, I’m hoping we’ll have a few months worth of bills in our emergency fund to cover us just in case. I know from experience that we can cope on a small income, but I would sleep easier knowing there was a safety net there if needed.
I wrote an entire post on the baby ‘essentials’ I think are a waste of money, and due to our ill-preparedness for the impending birth of said baby we didn’t really buy anything in advance. That’s not to say that things didn’t get used. We were gifted a Phillips steriliser and feeding set complete with bottles and teats – we’ve used the steriliser non stop, but we quickly changed to Dr Brown bottles to try and help with the reflux. We also wasted money trying different types of formula at £10+ a time, only to use a few scoops and then throw it away. We also rarely dressed her in anything but babygrows for the first 3 months, so lots of cute little outfits went untouched – it was just completely pointless as we could be changing her anything from 5-10 times a day because of her sickness.
We also spent a fortune on Gaviscon by being poorly organised. We did have a repeat prescription which was free, but we would often run out on a Friday forgetting to put the repeat request in and therefore have to purchase it from a pharmacy to see us through the weekend instead. These were £8 a time. We spent a lot of money trying different reflux solutions – anything and everything, but unfortunately poor little girly just had to outgrow it, and rather than the 12 weeks the doctor said it would take, she finally stopped showing signs of reflux at 37 weeks.
Advice For Mums to Be
If I could give Mums to be any advice – or go back and give myself some advice it would be, be organised. Join all the baby clubs for vouchers and freebies, buy secondhand and don’t be a brand snob. Having a baby is expensive but there are so many ways you can save money. Don’t insist on Pampers at £8 a pack – Aldi Mamia nappies are just as good and a fraction of the cost. You really don’t need to pay £80 for a new jumperoo – one off facebook marketplace is fine – the seats can be removed and washed and the plastic can be cleaned and disinfected. Don’t waste money on expensive clothing – it’ll get peed, pooed and puked on. And that’s before we get to weaning…
Do you want to share your Maternity Leave story?
I reached out to the lovely fellow Mummies on Instagram who have kindly shared
their stories with me, so stay tuned for a series of ‘Mummy’s Money’ posts.
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!