We have all heard, and possibly felt, the crush of unpaid maternity leave in the United States. We look on to our Canadian neighbors and European friends with their 12+ month paid maternity leaves with envious eyes. Maybe we work for a generous employer who provides paid time off in large quantities, but that is rare and chances are that we work for an employer who provides little to no paid time off during our leave.
This can leave us feeling unsupported, without the resources we need to have a wonderful 4th trimester and anxious when we return back to work because we’re not ready. We must get financially literate so we can get the most time with our new little bundles of joy!
Here are 4 key steps to preparing financially for the maternity leave you deserve:
#1 – Know Your “Nut”
How many of us actually know what we spend every month? Getting clear the monthly expenses you absolutely cannot default on like your rent, car payments, and utilities will get you to your “nut.”
Now, what you’re ACTUALLY spending on Amazon and those curiously high dollar Costco trips is next to identify.
Sometimes, just taking the time to get educated and becoming aware of your expenses you might be able to see how you can live on less or where you can easily cut to get a longer maternity leave by just reducing your monthly expenses!
#2 – Know Your Benefits
Yes, girl, it’s time to start asking about your maternity leave policy and what your employer offers, or doesn’t.
This includes both:
- Time off – the amount of protected leave you have to be away from work
- Wage replacement – the amount of money you will receive while you’re out on protected leave
I know how it can feel to start asking about your policies, especially if you are just planning to get pregnant soon, but education and understanding lead to feelings of empowerment and safety.
Pro tip – look into a maternity leave planning workshop to educate yourself on all the protected leaves and wage replacement offerings outside of your employer too!
#3 – Put Together a Plan
Organizers unite and Leslie Knopes of the world rejoice, it’s time to jam on your planners! The simplest way to get your maternity leave plan together is to draw it out on a calendar or in Excel. However you process information is how you should organize it.
Follow these steps:
- Mark your estimated due date (EDD) on a calendar
- Overlap the LEAVE before and after your EDD provided by the State and your employer
- Overlap the PAY your employer and State provide
- Overlap your expenses (aka your “monthly nut”)
- See if you’re short and by how much – this difference in pay is your new target to get to!
Once you can visually see everything together, the time off and the $$, you can begin to feel if you have enough or want more.
#4 – Get Creative to Find More $$$
Start looking at resources you have to build up the moolah before baby comes. Can you refinance existing debts, cash in on some investment accounts, save up, or cut expenses for a period of time?
You can also get creative with your employer’s policies and see how you can ask for assistance. I had a friend who found out her employer would let her overdraw her PTO by 4 weeks if she wanted, so she did!
Maybe your employer can offer a supplemental insurance policy through Aflac, allow you to work some comp time before the baby comes, or offer work from home options. Creative solutions are all around!
As women and mothers, we have to get smart about our financial obligations and resources as they apply to maternity leave. We all deserve to take the time off we want with our babies and we owe it to ourselves to get smart about our finances, policies, and to ask for what we need. *snaps*