Maternity can be hugely stressful for a lot of reasons, but money is often overlooked.
You’ll need to figure out…
- Your maternity entitlement from your employer and the government
- The cost of outgoings you need to cover before and after your baby’s born
- How your partner's finances (or anyone that's helping) affects you
- How long do you actually want to take off work
Even once you’ve worked these things out, putting it into practice can be tricky.
Here’s a real-life example to give you a better idea...
Laura, 30, works as a product designer for a furniture company in Bristol.
She’s currently 5 months pregnant and plans to go on maternity leave in 2 months time. She hopes to take around 9 months off in total if her finances let her.
Laura’s employer gives her full pay for the first 2 months of maternity, so in effect, she’s got 4 months of full pay left before the pay drop kicks in.
To find out how the pay drop will affect her, Laura worked out her monthly finances:
- Salary - £1,750 (after tax)
- ‘Basic’ outgoings - £750 (her partner pays the same into the joint account)
- ‘Fun’ money - £600
Total outgoings - £1,350
Leftover money - £400
One of Laura’s biggest concerns is how her lifestyle will be affected once her salary stops and statutory maternity pay (SMP) begins.
Laura’s SMP works out as £110 weekly or £440 monthly (after tax). She will get this for around 31 weeks (of 39) - the first 8 weeks of maternity are full pay thanks to her employer!
So what does this mean?
Laura has 8 more weeks of full pay. She’ll need to make the most of this before moving to SMP for the remaining 31 weeks (7 months) of maternity.
To make sure Laura can cope with just SMP, she needs to build up some savings.
In order to do that, she needs to figure out how much to save up - this is the hard part!
- 7 months of outgoings is £9,450
- 7 months (31 weeks) of SMP is £3,410
= that leaves Laura around £6,370 short!
But it's not quite that bad because Laura normally has around £400 left over each month anyway and she allocates a further £600 for all the fun stuff. In reality, she might not need this much when the baby arrives.
How will Laura and her partner deal with the shortfall?
Laura and her partner really don't want to be worrying about money when bringing a new baby into the world. So, they’ve decided that they need to do something about the expected shortfall whilst Laura still has her full salary.
Laura’s going to…
- Reduce her ‘fun money’ from £600 to £300 a month
- Try to save £700 a month for the next 4 months (her partner will be saving too)
On top of the £1,500 the couple already has saved up in a Cash ISA, they’ll now be able to save another £5,600 before SMP kicks in.
This will see them through Laura’s maternity leave without too much financial difficulty.