Whether you’re a first time, second time third or fourth time parent, there’s no doubt that heading off on maternity or paternity leave can cause a level of uncertainty and stress, particularly when it comes to work and keeping on top of your finances. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered by putting together our best tips for helping your stay on top of it all, including the washing pile.
1. Do your research
Like any good plan, research is key, so before you announce to the world that you are expecting, it might be worth checking out what your employer offers in terms of maternity or paternity leave and what you’re government benefits you may be entitled to. This will help when you enter into discussions about “your plans” because you will be armed with the information you need to make informed decisions.
For first time parents, some questions to get started include: does your employer pay maternity/ paternity leave? Are you eligible for the government parental leave payments? Does your employer have standard maternity/ paternity leave time frames? How long do you want to take off work? What are the eligibility requirements for all of these things? Do you know if you’d like to return to work part-time, full-time, or not at all?
For parents who have been down this road before, you may know everything there is to know about your employer's maternity/ paternity leave offering, but it is still worth checking out the government initiatives in case they have changed since the last time.
Some useful websites include:
2. Plan as soon as you can
A good place to start is by setting a budget. One way to do this is to take your current income and expenditure and add to this, things like insurances, doctor and hospital fees, scans and medical tests, maternity wear, baby clothes, furniture and equipment (especially if this is your first time). If you don’t know where your money goes each week, start tracking it and recording it for a couple of weeks first.
You will also need to consider the additional expenses you will encounter once the baby arrives. Items like nappies, wipes and formula will become regular purchases and how much they increase your shopping bill may shock you. Planning for these things means you won’t ever have to experience the dreaded supermarket checkout surprise when you insert your debit card and hope there’s enough money in the bank to pay for your groceries, or worse when you have to leave your groceries behind or return some so that you can pay for them.
Then there’s childcare. One of the biggest expenses you will encounter if you or your partner return to work, so you will need to determine if it is a viable option for you.
It may sound strange to start thinking about childcare options before the baby is born and you might think is just one of those old wives tales, like you need to buy your wedding dress at least six months before your wedding, but this one is actually true. You do need to consider and if possible, secure a place for your child in child care before they are born. This may also be the determining factor in your return to work plan.
Mychild.gov.au can help you find information on the different types of child care available and how to get assistance with the cost of child care. It also contains a database of child care service providers that you can search for in your local area. The Department of Education and Training is where you will find up to date information on the current child care programs available, government policies, statistics and the latest child care reforms.
Once you’ve done all of this make adjustment to the income section of your budget for any changes in income you will experience if you or your partner take time off work.
3. Cut back where you can and save, save, save
While saving is considered part of the planning process, it also warrants its own heading because it’s always a good idea to put money away ‘for a rainy day’.
Whether this is your first or your fourth baby, putting money away each week will go a long way to helping you pay for all the little extras that you “need” when baby arrives. It will also help cover those things that just seem to pop-up. Things like, the electricity bill, which is more than last year because one of you is at home during the day now. Or other things like medical expenses if you or your child becomes unwell.
A great way to start saving is to look at the budget you’ve put together and identify some areas that you could cut back on. It might be the daily coffee and muffin break, or the regular weekend breakfasts out - whatever you agree you can live without, set yourself a challenge and see if you can, in fact, live without it. You will be surprised what difference these little changes can make to you savings.
Another great way to save is to see if there’s an option for you or your partner to earn a little extra in the lead up to baby’s arrival. This may mean doing a little overtime, picking up an extra shift, or forgoing your regular RDO, whatever you can do, put that extra money away and again you will be surprised at what a difference a few extra dollars can make.
4. Get support from your local banking specialist
At Regional Australia Bank, we’re here to help you prepare financially so that your maternity leave is as enjoyable as it can be.
In the end, having the right information and a solid plan could mean the difference between a well-controlled maternity/ paternity leave and a financial disaster.
Our banking specialists can help you identify more ways to cut back on costs and save a little extra so that you’ve got less to worry about financially, freeing you up to spend more time with your new baby – and of course to tackle that washing pile. Contact us today!