Muddled About Maternity Leave Money
Dear Piggy Bank,
I am expecting my first child and just about to go on maternity leave but I’ve been so excited about the baby I haven’t really thought past getting ready for the baby to arrive. I finish work in a couple weeks and realize we haven’t thought much (ok, at all) about how our finances will change. I’ve asked a few questions at work but don’t have a good understanding of what to expect.
Muddled About Maternity Money
Dear Muddled About Maternity Money,
There’s a lot to think about when you’re expecting your first and I can understand how the financial implications have taken a back seat to car seats, cribs and diapers!
There are two stages to Budgeting for Baby:
- Maternity leave finances
- Post-maternity leave finances
#1: For most people, household income changes a far bit when 1 person takes maternity leave – usually the female but not always. A birth mother is eligible for maternity leave benefits and then new parents are eligible for parental leave. The combination of the two may provide benefits for up to 50 weeks. The payments are based on previous work hours and salary, maxing out at $411 per week. Some employers provide additional benefits but not very many. Here are some suggestions:
- Find out how your household income will change. What will it be while someone stays home to care for the baby?
- Review the rest of your income and expenses and think about other changes that will have financial impact (i.e. lower drycleaning expenses but a new community center membership).
#2: Return to work day comes quickly. Sometimes by choice and sometimes out of necessity. Either way, your life has permanently changed and there are new responsibilities and money matters to consider. Putting a little thought into this stage now can make a huge difference later!
- Will you stay home, put your child in child care, a combination of both or perhaps you have family who will help? A couple phone calls or conversations with other moms will give you a good idea of the cost of the alternatives.
- Craft a budget that includes any change to your income (if you go part-time or self-employed), your expenses (including any expenses relating to the child) and savings (emergency, education).
It may seem daunting but getting the facts and putting a little thought into a plan now will put you in the driver’s seat to make these decisions and alleviate some of the anxiety around major life changes!
Dear Piggy Bank