With the pitter patter of tiny feet on the horizon, your thoughts may be turning to managing your household budget with an extra mouth to feed, and a reduced income while you take your maternity leave.
A whole host of information about planning and managing your maternity leave and pay is available at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk, including how to make sure you’re getting the pay you’re entitled to and advice on making your budget stretch further.
Planning ahead will help you keep control of your finances as your lifestyle changes. When you experience any change in personal circumstances it’s a good idea to take a fresh look at your budget. Nobody’s pretending you can predict everything, and there may be unexpected costs along the way, but gaining control of the majority of your budget will help.
Before you go on maternity leave, make sure you know what you should be getting – even if you haven’t been in your job long, or don’t work, you’ll still be able to access some financial support. If you do work, your employer may even offer an occupational maternity scheme that will provide a higher rate of pay than Statutory Maternity Pay. Alongside maternity advice, www.gov.uk even offers a calculator to help you work out what your maternity pay will be.
From April 2015 there will be a new system of sharing parental leave between parents, which could help you to maintain your household income, enabling the major breadwinner to go back to work. When he announced the new system, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “In the future, both mothers and fathers will be able to take control of how they balance those precious first months with their child and their careers. This is good news not only for parents and parents-to-be, but employers too who will benefit from a much more flexible and motivated workforce.”
If you decide to return to work after your baby is born, you may be able to get help with the costs of childcare. Even part-time childcare now costs more than the average mortgage, and although there is a variety of assistance available, you’ll need to apply for it. The Family and Childcare Trust has comprehensive information about the support available to you, whatever your circumstances, including details on free childcare for two, three and four year olds.
Whether you’re expecting your first child, or expanding your family, the change is likely to place additional pressure on your family finances. As with any financial challenge, following a few simple steps will help you get through: 1) talk to your partner openly about your situation and work through it together, 2) list all of your income and outgoings, and 3) make a budget and stick to it.
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