Maternity leave is meant to be a stressful time that you can spend with your new addition without the stresses of life getting in the way. Unfortunately, nowadays, this just isn’t realistic.
Most of us mums have to think a good 6 months ahead before their due date about how they are going to survive on half a wage. (If they’re lucky!)
We all want to spend more time at home, but the longer we’re away from work, the fewer opportunities we seem to have and to be honest, the less we want to go back.
So what if I told you there was a way eke out your maternity pay further and possibly extend the money in your pocket?
Interested? Then these even tips might just help you live the life you want without going bankrupt.
If you haven’t started already, then creating a household budget is a good place to start. It allows you to see what you’re spending money on and if and where you need to cut back.
Try and decide how much you’re going to spend on food, petrol, and treats and stick to it. I think drawing £10 out helps me. That way I know that’s my treat money for the week, so ice creams the kids want can come out of that, but once it’s gone it’s gone, and anything left over gets put into our money pot.
It’s not easy, especially if you’re used to splashing the cash, but your phone can help.
There are loads of budget phone apps that can help you keep on top of your finances wherever you are.
I use Toshi. It’s completely free and it lets you input your salary and outgoings, plus lets you export all this onto your computer.
Keeping a budget planner is the easiest way to see what is going on with your money and what, if anything, you have left over after a month.
Anything spare could be skimmed into another account, or if you prefer to actually see your savings, then drawn out and put into a sealed container.
Everything can be set up automatically so you don’t even have to think about it.
We all know we can switch bank accounts easily enough, and the same applies any other household bill too.
Start with the most expensive and work your way down. Could switching from your normal supplier save you anything? Are you on the right tariff? Is it worth it for the admin fee?
Ask questions. It does take time to call around, but it’s really worth it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re only half way through your agreed contract, phone, ask what they can do to make your bill lower.
What’s the worst that can happen? You’ve wasted an hour and they’ve said no. Well at least you know and the alternative is they’ve said yes and shaved some money off your monthly outgoings.
Did you know that you can get paid to spend? You name it, from food and clothes to normal household bills.
An example is like Santander’s 123 current account, which pays up to 3% cashback on some household bills, like broadband, TV and mobile bills.
Other banks do it too and some offer 1p cashback for every £1 you spend.
It’s also worth looking at cashback sites like Quidco or Top Cashback.
They work by giving you a slice of the commission they receive when you buy something from a range of top retailers like Amazon through their site.
Signing up is free and you can receive the money via Paypal or as vouchers.
We all know that meal planning saves money, so start doing it on your phone. This could save you up to £200 a year and really shake up how you shop.
I use mySuperList which is a free app that helps you compare the cost of food in different supermarkets and helps you create a list based on the best deals.
Another good one is Love Food Hate Waste, which gets you to plan your shopping and meals while reducing the food you throw away. It has recipe ideas and what to do with any leftovers or forgotten food.
Many of us admit to throwing away up to £60 a month worth of food, so this app could really help stretch your pay out.
Why buy something full price when you can buy it half price?
Cribs or cots can be picked up cheaply from eBay or Facebay, and with a new mattress or even a lick of paint, can look brand new in no time.
Most items that are sold second hand have hardly been used, and are a fraction of the cost of buying new.
Then, when you’ve finished with it, sell it on. You’d be surprised what sells.
Keeping in Touch Days
The very idea of having to work while on maternity leave might fill you with dread, but if you can handle working for ten days, not all at once I might add, then you’ll not only receive your normal maternity pay but also be paid your normal wage for that day!
First introduced by the government to help introduce you back into the workplace, keeping in touch days are meant to be exactly that, days that you can go to work for important meetings or staff meet ups that may affect your role when you return.
Did you know, that while on maternity leave, you are still entitled to your holiday leave? If you’re a full-time employee, then this could be anything from 4 to 6 weeks, depending on your contract.
Plus, if you haven’t used everything you are owned before your maternity leave, then that can also be used on top.
You can choose to add your holiday on to the start or end of your maternity leave, and the good part is, you’ll get paid in full, as normal!
Make Some Money
There are no rules to say you can’t earn a little on the side while you’re at home either. Depending on how much money you earn, depends on the rules, but the 10 keeping in touch days need to be remembered.
If you’re just selling on eBay then there’s no need to declare anything. If you decide to make some money freelancing, then that has to come out of your 10 keeping in touch days and declared the following tax year.
You can do anything, from filling our surveys to mystery shopping.
Get Paid to Google
Qmee is a smart internet browser add on that tracks anytime you purchase online. Then, when you Google, Qmee will show you extra results or adverts, all of which have been paid for by companies that want more click through’s on their site.
Every time you click, you get a cut of what Qmee make. It isn’t loads, about 7-15p a click, but if you’re Googling anyway it might just be worth trying it.
While you’re up all hours, you had may as well make some money, and survey sites are the place to start.
If you prefer to do everything on your phone, then have a look at Receipt Hog, Swagbucks, Checkoutsmart and I-Say, all free apps that could make you an extra £300 a year.
If you want to get out the house, then face to face focus groups are good, and they pay well too.
Being pregnant or having a newborn makes you hot property too, with experience only you’ve had. Turn up, talk through what they want to know, eat their food and walk away with anything from £30 to £160! Saros is a good place to start if this sounds good to you.
This is one of my favorites!
Mystery shopping is a tool used by companies to assess how well their branch or store are doing.
As we act like real shoppers, we get a good look at how the store actually looks and how staff are behaving.
What I love the most, is that I get to go for a meal and get paid to do it. It’s a win win.
I use Market Force and Grassroots and have completed around 18 mystery shops, meaning I’ve earned around £200 plus free products.
It’s not easy to stretch that maternity pay, but with these simple tips, you really can live well without getting into debt.
Do you budget? Have you got any tips for other mums who are struggling on maternity pay?