Seven Tips for Saving Money for Maternity Leave

Thanks to Daniela for this guest post. My guest posters have been quite helpful this week, as I am in New York City for BlogWorld.

How much you will need to save during maternity leave depends on how much you will be paid during this period. The first thing is to review your monthly budget and make adjustments as needed, subtracting out extraneous expenses.

With the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), maternity benefits start the day you take maternity leave and can continue to be paid for up to 35 weeks after the birth of your baby. Your employer must guarantee that you will be able to return to the same job with the same rate of pay. To qualify, you must have been employed with the company for at least a year prior to taking leave and worked at least 1,250 hours during this period. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from this requirement.

While majority of women simply cannot afford to take three months off to care for their child, and so return to work perhaps sooner than they should or that the law requires. This explains a May 2008 U.S. Census report showing that 55 percent of first-time mothers returned to work within six months after birth of their child.

It is apparent that planning is necessary to determine how much time you can comfortably take, and how this will impact your family budget. This list of seven simples tips will help you determine how you can save money while on maternity leave.

  1. Practice living on limited income. It is a good idea to take a practice run by living only on the income you can expect to receive while on maternity leave. Put the remainder of your income away for emergencies and baby-related expenses. Since the first two weeks of maternity leave are unpaid, having a cushion of cash will ensure that you are able to cover all expenses during this period.?
  2. Put $20 aside per week. Above and beyond budgetary adjustments in order to meet needed expenses, it is also a good idea to put $20 aside each week during each week of leave to cover any unanticipated financial expenses, such as extra diapers or baby food.?
  3. Purchase second-hand toys. Babies go through toys very quickly, so why spend lots of money on expensive items? Best to purchase second-hand toys which are easily found at flea markets, garage sales, or eBay. Keep in mind, certain safety items like car seats should NOT be bought used as you don?t know the history of the item.
  4. Have fun on the cheap! You don?t need to spend a ton of money to have fun with your baby. Go to a park and ride a merry-go-round, feed the ducks, take long strolls, go to the children?s section of a bookstore for story-time, etc. There are a myriad ways you can entertain your baby without breaking your wallet.
  5. Buy in bulk. Become a regular customer of discount warehouses such as BJs, Sam?s Club, or Costco. You will be able to save significant sums of money for baby food, diapers, and other necessary items. ?Costco shoppers can consider the American Express Costco card, which has no annual fee for Costco members.
  6. Obtain free samples and coupons. Join a myriad of Mother and baby clubs (e.g. publix.com/babyclub) so you can take advantage of free items and coupon deals.
  7. Use credit cards wisely. You may also want to think about applying for a credit card through your favorite baby stores. Some of these stores offer extra rewards for purchases made at their store. You?ll be surprised how much baby food and formula the little one will go through.

Daniela Baker is a mother of two and a personal finance blogger at http://www.creditdonkey.com/

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