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How to financially prepare for Maternity and Paternity leave!

High on the list of priorities for most new parents-to-be is how they can maximize the amount of time they spend together right after they add a sweet baby to the mix.

Along with that, though comes making tough decisions regarding budgeting and where savings will be prioritized. So many more companies these days are offering maternity and paternity leave, but unfortunately paid leave just isn’t an option for all of us.

What do you do if you really feel like your family could use a few weeks of togetherness before jumping back into the grind but you and/or your partner can’t afford time off? That’s what we’re going to figure out today: Operation Paternity/Maternity leave SAVINGS!

The best thing you can do to beef up your savings to prep for some unpaid weeks off is to start early. The way that you are going to feel the maximum benefits of your hard work is by keeping at it for as long as you can. Not only will this pad your savings for when your son or daughter comes home, it will help create habits that will serve you well as you grow your family.

You won’t regret trimming your budget before a major life change so that your new habits don’t feel as challenging.

Now, time for the nitty gritty. What ways can you actually work to build a savings to use for your family? Here are some of the best ideas we’ve found.

Sell, sell, sell. This will be more about putting in time and legwork than about creating an ongoing stream of cash flow, but finding out that your old handbags or that dresser in the basement can get you some quick cash will help build momentum! Not only is there the old faithful, eBay, for small or more hard to find items, now you can sell on Instagram, Marketplace, and of course Craigslist. Local avenues too, like the Nextdoor app or even an old fashioned yard sales are great options.

Consider what your items are worth, who your target market is, and use that information to decide where you should sell. I’m not saying turn into a cold hearted shrew, but really – if you don’t look at it or think about it, you probably don’t need it. Think big and small: furniture, electronics (I’m looking at you, old gaming systems!), clothes that don’t fit, and even shoes that never really got worn. Enjoy your first taste of extra cash! ($500, one time)

Cancel monthly memberships. So many businesses use the membership model, and I totally get why. We get hooked, sign up for the auto pay, and six months later totally forget it’s even happening. Go through your bank statement and make a list of everything that auto drafts out of your account. Discuss what from that list can be cut. Be as ruthless as you can! If you aren’t at the gym more than once a week, could you do with at home workouts? YouTube has so many great free programs now! Do you really need a make-up subscription box, a dog toy subscription box, and a fair trade product subscription box, as well as a beer / wine of the month? Are they fun to get? Absolutely. Are they priceless, like time with your family will be? 100% that’s a no. (I know. I’m trying to hit you right in the feelings. Is it working?) Other monthly things you can consider scrapping to save cash: magazine subscriptions, newspaper subscriptions, cable, Netflix/Hulu/Prime, cleaning help, or lawn care. ($350 per month x 8 months = $2800)

Drink water. Okay, I know this sounds basic but this is a prime example of how making one change can really add up. If you are hitting Starbucks once a day, having a few happy hour cocktails, and rounding it off with a a few cans of La Croix throughout – you are spending more than ten dollars a day on beverages. Alone. $300+ a month for just one person. Is your mind blown? Mine is. ($400 per month for you and your partner x 8 months = $3200)

Don’t eat out. Yep. It sucks, but it is easy to see how eating at home saves big money in the long run. ($40 per week x 8 months = $1280)

Cut out non-essentials. There is a whole movement devoted to buying nothing. The premise is to live well on what you’ve got, and to get the rest second-hand if possible. Again, I don’t recommend going cold turkey from daily Target runs to nothing, but look at where you are spending and try to cut back. For me personally, doing a ‘no spend ________’ challenge is super helpful and not horribly difficult. You can start with a day, if you need to, and work up to a week, and then a month. This doesn’t mean you don’t pay bills, just that you don’t spend money where you don’t need to. This includes possibly changing how often and/or where you get your hair done, your nails done, and reconsidering your clothing expenditures. The idea is to think small and save. ($150/month x 8 months =$1200)

Join the gig economy. You or your partner (or both) could take on a few side gigs to bring in some dough when you aren’t at your full-time job. Right now there are tons of ways to make cash if you have a working vehicle. Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Uber Eats, Shipt, and InstaCart are all options that are local to me – and I’m sure the same or others are available to you. You can set your hours and pick up some cash. Pre-kids, I can totally see my husband and I doing this together and enjoying the time to hang out while we shuttle food around the city. (Conservatively $200/month x 8 months = $1600)

Don’t go crazy on baby gear. It’s hard not to, I know, but rein it in. You don’t need a lot for a baby! Try to impress that philosophy upon your family members too. I know everyone loves to buy things for the newest member of the family, but be intentional and mindful of what you are purchasing. Related: Consider buying second-hand. Items that are specific to certain stages of babyhood are truly not used for long before becoming unnecessary, so there are many great deals to be had.

Put legwork into finding savings. Can you refinance your home and drop PMI? Can you get a better interest rate? Can you refinance student loans or car loans to drop some interest? Can you change your cell phone plan? Personally, after we had been with the same carrier for five years, we called and got a huge bill decrease just for ‘customer loyalty’. See what you can get cut just with a phone call!

Whew. I think that’s it for now. If you add up my rough estimates, not even counting the last two ideas, you’ll find a total savings of over ten thousand dollars. As unlikely as it is that you will be able to use each of these ideas (as I’m sure you already are employing some of them on your own) you can see that even just a few can make a big change to your budget. Keep your eye on the prize, my friend! It will be worth it.

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