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How to Afford Maternity Leave in the UK

How to Afford Maternity Leave in the UK

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Including a maternity leave budget planner and how to prepare for maternity leave financially

Maternity leave is meant to be a relaxing time that you can spend with your new baby 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 be able to afford their maternity leave.

Receiving statutory maternity pay shouldn’t fill you with dread. We’ve come up with 51 ways that can help you survive maternity leave while still giving your family the royal lifestyle they may be used too.

Parental leave can be fun if you take away all the stress of worrying about money. So what if we told you there was a way eke out your maternity pay further and possibly extend the money in your pocket?

Interested? Then these money saving tips might just help you live the life you want without going bankrupt. Find out below how to cut costs on maternity leave. Having a frugal maternity leave doesn’t mean you can’t spend money, it just means you need to spend it wiser.

If you are looking to save money for your family then have a look at:

The Ultimate £1 Per Head Budget Meal Planning List – Struggling to find cheap but yummy family meals? This is our biggest and best list of £1 a head family meals.

103 Frugal Living Tips That Will Save You Thousands in 2022 – Start saving money right now! This walks you through exactly how we have money every year as a family.

19 Cheap Food Shopping Hacks That Could Save You Hundreds – This is our huge list of cheap shopping hacks. Everything here is what we do to save money while grocery shopping.

Surviving Maternity Leave Financially

Join our free money saving challenge and learn how to save your family money

If you’re struggling to save money ready for maternity leave then why not join our FREE money saving course that takes you step by step through saving money as a family. All simple steps to help you build an emergency fund or save towards that mega holiday.

Join our FREE Money Saving Course here and I can’t wait to see how I can help you!

This is the perfect time to improve your finances.

With this free email course, we cover everything from setting financial goals to ways to earn some extra money in your free time. Over the next 6-weeks, you will receive an email that will help you save your family more money. 

Come Join us now and watch your savings grow.

How to survive maternity leave

The first step to preparing for maternity leave financially is to start as soon as you’ve set your paid maternity leave date.

Make sure you add in any annual leave you are entitled to as this can be added to the start or end of your maternity leave. Check your contract if you are employed as your holiday year to year date may still apply.

Check what you are entitled too. This could be a certain amount of weeks on full pay or if you’re applying for maternity allowance how much this will be a week.

You need to be able to know what your incomings will be so you can work backward.

Think about everything you use daily. Is your car big enough? Will you need to sell it to buy a bigger car or a family friendly one? Gumtree’s new Sell My Car feature is a good place to start. You can list your car for free as a private seller!

Ask yourself how long you are planning to take off and if your mat leave money plus any child benefit payments you may receive will cover everything.

Please don’t rely on credit cards during this period. It starts a spiral of debt that you may not be able to get out of and may face having to pay it back for years even when you are earning your “normal” income.


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. If you prefer to use cash to budget then drew it out and put it in envelopes to use. Anything left over gets put into the 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.

We use Plum*. It’s completely free and it lets you input your salary and outgoings, plus links to all your accounts including savings and investments.

Read more here about how Plum works and how it can save you money.

Everything can be set up automatically so you don’t even have to think about it.

If you prefer to do things with paper then 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.

Use my FREE downloadable budget planner to help.

Unsure how to budget? Then come join my FREE six-week money saving course that aims to help you save at least £300 a month.

Bill Switch

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?

For your energy supplier, check out Bulb*, who are trying to make switching your energy supplier easier, cheaper and greener. You’ll also receive £40 when you switch! Finding out how much they could save you is completely free!

For the rest of your bills look at Compare The Market and check how much you should be paying. This gives you a base line and means that you can either grab a deal or haggle with your existing supplier.

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.

Cash Back

We recommend Quidco* and Swagbucks*.

You get money off whenever you shop online through their sites which can really come in handy once baby is born.

It doesn’t cost you a penny to use them. If you make a purchase through their site you receive the money. It’s that simple!

We use OhMyDosh. OhMyDosh is a great way to make extra money at home. It’s completely free to use. In this OhMyDosh review we talk you through how OhMyDoh works and how you can make money by using the website.

Just like other cashback sites you can earn money by purchasing the products you would normally buy through OhMyDosh.

Unlike other cashback sites though, OhMyDosh* is completely free to use with no subscription needed for the better deals.

Join OhMyDosh here for free and have £1 added your account.*

Read more about how OhMyDosh works here.

You could also have a look at Quidco*for cashback on things like insurance and day to day shopping.

Swagbucks* is great for earning free gift cards and cash when you do normal things online like watching videos, searching the web and answering survey questions.

Signing up is free and you can receive the money via Paypal or as vouchers.

Meal Plan

Whatever you and your family plan on eating that week gets put down. Make this your one and only shop for the week.

Start by listing every meal time and plan out the week. Get everyone involved to pick a meal.

Having trouble filling up your meal plan? Then use these meal plans as ideas.

Write down whatever ingredients you need for your meal plan to work including drinks. Then look through your kitchen staples and check you don’t need anything. We have a full list of our kitchen staples here. They are all cheap but can bulk out a meal if needed.

For some £1 a head meal ideas, please have a look at:

The Best Fakeaway Recipes For Under £1 a Head

Cheap Chicken Recipes That Are Under £1 a Head

11 Cheap Pasta Recipes That Are Under £1 a Head

13 Leftover Chicken Recipes That Are Under £1 a Head

Selling Sites

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.

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 meetups that may affect your role when you return.

All your employment rights are protected while on maternity leave. Even if you are on maternity allowance, you can work up to 10 days and still keep your maternity leave pay plus enjoy the extra income.

Holiday Entitlements

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!

So here are another 44 ways you can cut costs on maternity leave and not feel like you’ve cut everything out.

1. Join our FREE six-week money saving course that can help you save up to £300 a month. Nothing fancy, just an easy to follow email course that takes you through step by step how to save more money as a family.

2. Use the 1p money saving challenge to save. It’s quick and easy! Use our guide to saving with the 1p money saving challenge here.

3. Use a site like Switchcraft* for your electric if you don’t like the hassle of looking around. They automatically switch you to the best deal for you at the end of your term. Find out more here about how Switchcraft* could work for you.

4. Chat to other mums who are in the same position as you in our Money Saving Mums Facebook group. Come join our safe community of parents who all want to save more to live a better financial life. Becoming debt free isn’t easy but together we can all help each other.

5. Put a plan in place now on how you’re going to survive now. Nothing like the present.

6. You can also join The Resource Vault that offers you over 15 FREE money saving printables. (By agreeing, you are happy for us to send you details on what we are up to and other money saving tips.)

7. We have a full list of our kitchen staples here. They are all cheap but can bulk out a meal if needed.

8. Anything spare skim. Put any extra coins or cash away either online or in a pot.

9. If you haven’t already, think about life insurance now. Use a site like Compare The Market* to check prices.

10. Only go out of dinner or have a treat day once a month.

11. Visit free places like museums, galleries and free festivals.

12. Pack lunch. No more office outings. Keep track of what you’ve saved.

13. Leave the car at home one day a week and walk.

14. Shop around. Loads of online retailers like Amazon, Curry’s PC World and even Groupon do loads of different deals. It pays to look around first.

15. If you want to stay fit on maternity leave then use free trial or no-strings gym memberships. It’s a short term measure but saves money.

16. Think before you spend. Do you really need it? Does the baby? If you hesitate then it’s probably a no. Leave it and come back.

17. Use your Tesco Clubcard points for family days out. Your Boots Advantage Card is also good for swapping points for products.

18. Borrow or reuse whatever you can. Ask your friends what they have laying around that you could borrow.

19. Use free trials for baby classes. Most either offer the first lesson free or at a heavily discounted price.

20. Downshift in the supermarket. Start by buying the very lowest brand and work your way up if you don’t like it. if you can’t tell the difference then stick to it!

21. Use your Health Vistor or local Sure Start Center as your go to place. They offer loads of advice and many Sure Start Centers even offer free courses in certain skills. It’s a great place to meet other mums too.

22. Claim for everything you’re entitled too. This could be child benefit, tax credits or working tax credits. Find out exactly on the government website.

23. Make a list of all the “would love to haves” for people to buy when the baby comes. People always want to buy gifts but get stuck on what to buy.

24. Set a savings account for the baby now. Look around and see what’s best. Junior or kids accounts don’t always offer the best rates.

25. Batch cook before the baby arrives or have a handy list of easy recipes the family love. Try our budget slow cooker recipes for under £1 a head or our 59 easy recipes that also make leftovers.

26. Use baby cinemas while you can! Many cinemas offer free or heavily discounted screenings to new mums.

27. Know your rights now. It’s harder to fight a pay decrease when you’re not in the workplace. Sit down with your boss and work out what’s going to happen while you’re off.

28. Use Amazon’s baby discount finder. They discount regularly so it’s worth keeping tabs if theirs something you need.

29. Shop around for nappies. Own brands can be just as good as the higher end. We used Aldi and an Asda own brand.

30. Look into tax-free childcare now. Every 80p you put in the government put in 20p. This is open to everyone regardless of their employment status.

31. Use any savings to overpay on your mortgage before baby comes. Just a small amount will reduce your mortgage term and interest.

32. Use one of our cheap pre-made meal plans once a week to bring your food bill down.

33. Drink more water when out and about. It’s good for you and free!

34. Find free ebooks for your phone for when you’re up in the night stopping you from searching the shops.

35. Use free apps like WhatUp to text and send messages to your friends and family.

36. Reduce your family waste by understanding dates and where items go in the fridge.

37. Use one of 101 Aldi recipes once a week that are family friendly and work perfect if you want to freeze leftovers. 

38. Shop at the online outlets and get massive brand discounts.

39. Never auto renewal ANYTHING without price comparing first. It will always be cheaper elsewhere.

40. Pay by direct debit when you can. You normally get a discount and don’t have to think about it.

41. Move to a water meter if you haven’t already. This tracks your exact water use so you have complete control.

42. Sign up child benefit even if you earn over the threshold. This means that you will still receive your credits toward your state pension.

43. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you’re struggling money wise please don’t let it get worse. Phone up everyone you owe money to and be honest.

44. Stop smoking or try to cut down on drinking. Put that money away. After 3 months you’ll see a big rise in your savings!

Printable family budget planner

Weekly budget meal plans and shopping lists plus access to over 15+ printables if you sign up to my newsletter.

If you find saving hard then come join our Facebook group Money Saving Mums and get access to The Resource Vault with access to over 15+ money saving printables. This includes our easy slow cooker meals meal plan, available exclusively to subscribers!

Everything is included from budget planners to meal plans and pre-made shopping lists plus a link to our Money Saving Mums Facebook group!

Come join us by click here!

How to prepare for maternity leave financially

If you feel like you’ve exhausted all these money-saving techniques then why not try making some extra income.

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 your personal items on eBay or Facebay then there’s no need to declare anything. If you decide to make some money freelancing or plan on starting your own online business from home, 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.

Remember, if you’re employed to check that making money from home doesn’t breach your contract. Any money you make from home MUST be declared unless you’re selling your own products. 

Our top 5 ways to earn a bit of extra money from home while on maternity leave are:

  1. Freelance from home

This could mean anything from freelance writing to becoming a virtual assistant.

If you like the idea of freelance writing or proofreading then:

Start by looking at sites like:

People Per Hour*



These companies will help you find work, but do take a commission on what you earn. If you’re starting from scratch then these sites will help you build a portfolio and a range of clients. It’s a careful balancing act and really does depend if you have a client base already. 

Many companies pay per word or per article, and pay will depend on your experience and writing or proofreading abilities.

You can also find work on local Facebay or Gumtree sites, and while they might not be the best paid, it means you can build up a portfolio for yourself to show other clients.

Virtual Assistant: 

A virtual assistant is someone who works from home, who can perform all the nitty gritty admin jobs that a client needs remotely.

This could be any admin task and is normally a high paying job with no experience needed. You could be doing anything from scheduling social media to creating marketing images to just answering emails or amending spreadsheets.

This is a tool kit for virtual assistants who want to plan their time better.

If you’re new to the world of freelancing then have a look at our Virtual Assistant Toolkit. 

This is the ultimate spreadsheet pack for your virtual assistant business. This is for mums who have never been a Virtual Assistant before but who would like to start working from home.

This value-pack includes:

  • A list of Virtual Assistant essential tools
  • Invoice template (Word)
  • Time Card spreadsheet (Excel with pre-made formulas)
  • Invoice spreadsheet (Excel with pre-made formulas)
  • Blog post promotion spreadsheet (Excel)
  • Engagement questions for most niches (Excel)
  • Facebook schedule (Excel)

The Virtual Assistant Essential Tool Kit can help you land your first client, and keep you on track for when it’s time to invoice.

So what are you waiting for? 🙂

Grab your copy here. 

      2. Blogging

Blogging can be a great hobby, but also a very good way to earn money and go places with your new baby that you’ve never thought of before.

You need to find a topic that you are passionate about. Don’t worry if you don’t enjoy writing, you can vlog on YouTube or even just start with a Facebook page.

The good thing about blogging is that you can start for free and earn money in a load of different ways like advertising, through sponsored posts (this is where a brand asks a blogger to write about their branded products), affiliates (where someone buys something after a blogger has written about them), products and courses.

You can start a blog really quickly and easily but will need a domain name, host and website which you can sort yourself quickly. We use WordPress to build Savings 4 Savvy Mums and TSO Host for our domain name. They also offer hosting too and with our code S4SM10%OFF you can get 10% off.

Don’t forget to sign up to a email marketing provider. Many offer you a free service till you hit a certain amount of subscribers. This is a great way to keep all your readers involved in what you’re working on. We use Mailerlite as they offer a great customer service and are very easy to use!

For a walkthrough on how to start a blog and make money, then have a look at our post called How to Start a Blog in the UK.

Related Posts: 

        3. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is when you sell something on behalf of someone else and get a commission. You advertise someone else’s products and services and when someone buys, you receive a small percentage.

This is great if you have a sales background already or have very active social media accounts.

There’s a lot of affiliate programs out there, so whatever you’re interested in, you’ll be able to find a scheme for it. It does take a while to build but affiliate marketing is a great passive income earner meaning you only have to set it up once and you’ll keep receiving income.

Remember to research the rules on declaring the links.

Our top five affiliates who are great to work with and we trust are:

  1. Profit Accumulator*: A oddmatcher and tracker
  2. Mailerlite*: A email campaign provider
  3. Switch Craft*: They automatically switch you when there’s a better deal
  4. Go Henry*: A pre-paid pocket money card and app for kids
  5. Emma Drew’s Turn Your Dream into Money*: A blogging course to get you up and running

        4. Matched betting

Matched betting is a completely legal, tried and tested way to make money online while you’re at home. It basically turns the tables on the bookmakers, to give you their free bet offers, so you can’t loose. It’s great to do around the baby as you can keep track of odds on your phone while you’re up all night!

If you’re doing it correctly, you will never loose any money, but you do need to take your time and be really careful to avoid any mistakes.

Make sure you understand fully before you deposit any money.

This matched betting guide is for beginners who want to place their first bet safely, but have no idea how matched betting even works.

We use Profit Accumulator* who offers you free use in till you make £45. This gives you enough time to work out if matched betting is really for you.

It’s also tax free and doesn’t have to be declared as income. 

       5. Surveys

A handy little earner that you can do on your phone while you’re rocking the baby or while you’re up in the night. You won’t necessarily make bundles of cash, but for just 20 minutes or so work, you could make a few pounds.

These are the one’s we’ve used before but there are plenty floating about that payout in either vouchers or cold hard cash:

  1. MySurvey*
  2. InstaGC*
  3. OhMyDosh*
  4. Prolific Academic*
  5. Valued Opinions*

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?

Laura x

If you enjoyed this post and would like some more family friendly money managing ideas, then head over to the managing money section here on Savings 4 Savvy Mums where you’ll find over 30 blog posts dedicated to helping you manage your family’s finance. There’s enough tips to help you save over £300 a month! You could also pop over and follow my managing money Pinterest boards for lots more ideas on how to keep more of your money in your pocket: Managing Money Printables, Managing Money for Families and Family Finance

Love this post? Then why not save it to Pinterest so you can easily find it later. 

Wondering how you'll afford maternity leave? Here's 51 ways to help you prepare for maternity leave without breaking the bank by Laura at Savings4SavvyMums. #materbityleave #beforebaby #maternityleaveideas #maternityleavebudget #firstdayofmaternityleave #imgoingonmaternityleave #savemoney #manageingmoneyonmaternityleave

What the * means

If a link has an * by it, then this means it is an affiliate link and helps S4SM stay free for all. If you use the link, it may mean that we receive a very small payment. It will not cost you anymore that it would normally.

You shouldn’t notice any difference and the link will never negatively impact the product. The items we write about are NEVER dictated by these links. We aim to look at all products on the market. If it isn’t possible to get an affiliate link, then the link, or product is still included in the same way, just with a non-paying link.

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