Written by Maria Hyde
Monday, December 9th, 2019
When you're taking maternity or parental leave, the idea of saving money can almost feel impossible. Not only are you surviving on a reduced income, but your expenses are also likely higher.
Having taken two maternity leaves in the last few years, I've had to really evaluate and make changes to my lifestyle, while getting creative at finding cost savings. Here are some of the ways I was able to save money during maternity leave:
5 Money-Saving Strategies for Mat Leave
1. Re-Evaluating My Expenses
In addition to cutting down on some of our “wants" (eating out, shopping), my husband and I also reviewed our recurring expenses and looked at areas for improvement. Some things that worked for us included:
- Switching to a basic cable package
- Changing my car insurance coverage to one with lower monthly payments (since I'd be driving a lot less not having to commute to work every day)
- Investing in a smart thermostat, which lowered our heating and cooling bills.
These small adjustments easily added up to over $60/month in cost savings.
2. Making Use of My Work Benefits
If you have private health insurance or an extended health plan through an employer, which you plan to continue through your leave, it's worth taking the time to investigate what baby-related items you could potentially have covered.
I was able to get reimbursed for my breast pump through my employee benefits. A friend of mine was able to get a sleep consultant for her baby covered through her plan by finding a social worker who provided the service. Both of these examples resulted in hundreds of dollars in savings.
3. Don't Buy Baby Items Until You Need Them
There's an infinite amount of baby items on the market, and you could easily talk yourself into thinking you need them all. I definitely found myself getting carried away and buying things that I thought I could use later on, only to find out there was no need for them at all.
Through my experience, I've learned that it's really hard to predict what you'll need for each stage, so a good strategy is to prioritize your spending by focusing only on what you need at the moment.
4. Taking Advantage of Free Activities
There are plenty of fun activities and programs you could take your kids to that won't hurt your wallet. During my mat leave, I spent a lot of time with my kids at our local library, which offered free story time, arts and crafts, as well as a designated play area with toys.
Living in Ontario, I also had access to the province's EarlyOn centres, which offered free drop-in play, and a variety of programs and resources. (Some even served free snacks.)
5. Avoided Buying New if I Could
There are certain baby items that you'd probably prefer to buy brand new, but there are also a lot of things you can save money on by buying secondhand.
My husband and I bought a lightly used, high-end stroller off Kijiji for half the price. My friends and I also swapped toys, clothes and other baby items, like bassinets and bouncers. Since babies can quickly outgrow things, it's easy to find items that are barely used and still in great condition.
Finding ways to save money helped ease some of the financial pressures of maternity leave, so that I could focus on enjoying my time off with my little ones.