It was a hot topic this past year on the Presidential race and I’m sure many ladies in their child bearing years were paying close attention to this one issue… MATERNITY LEAVE.
At the age of 24, we found out we were expecting our first bundle of joy. It wasn’t exactly planned so we had to figure out quickly what the heck maternity leave was and what it would mean to us.
Here is what we found out…
- There’s no paid maternity leave available where I work.
- Sick leave, annual leave, or advanced sick leave provided the only means for my income to continue while I was out.
- Our last resort would be FMLA leave. AKA Leave Without Pay.
I can remember sitting in my car at lunch, eating my turkey sandwich, writing out all our expenses on a sticky note. I was making sure we could pay our bills. Trying to figure out how the heck we would pay for this little guy in my belly. Trying not to freak out… or stress out. I didn’t want to have to use all my leave and not be able to take any time off for the next year… or two if I took advanced sick leave. Besides, who would take care of him when he was sick? I wouldn’t have any leave…
We quickly turned to FMLA which meant I wouldn’t be getting paid for a while when I was on maternity leave. It also meant when I went back to work I wouldn’t really get my first two paychecks. Why you may ask? All of the insurance premiums we missed while on leave without pay would need to be paid back. Yea, we were young and didn’t really think about that until after I got back to work. Our goal was to make it through maternity leave without accruing debt. The good news is we survived this adventure and met this goal, twice now! And let me tell you, it is so worth it!
Here are some tips on how we made it out just fine…
- We met Dave Ramsey. We got on a zero based budget immediately and we realized we had an emergency. Therefore we piled up as much cash as we could and lived on nothing. (beans and rice baby… beans and rice.) I kept squirreling money away every pay check until I had a safety net in place that I felt comfortable with. We had a magic number, three months of expenses. Find yours and save, save, save.
- We Side Hustled. We have never been strangers to side hustling since we started in our teens. These side hustles helped keep our necks above water and at that time paid our car payments.
- Make sure you have everything you need to cover those first three months for baby. The biggest thing is to make sure you have enough diapers and wipes. Have a diaper and wipes shower or take back some of the things you receive and trade them out for diapers and wipes. This will cut down on your baby expenses because, well, they are kind of expensive.
- I made meals and froze them while I was pregnant. This allowed us to not really have to worry about our food budget and allowed us to have home cooked meals even when we were absolutely exhausted after baby came. Your crockpot will be your best friend.
- Make a plan and work the plan. To be honest, if we didn’t have a plan, we wouldn’t have made it out of maternity leave without accruing debt. We knew what we needed to do and what we couldn’t do in order to meet our goal. Work with your spouse. Know what you have to do. Make sure you pay attention. (Even when you just want to got out and binge eat all the burgers in town and go to sleep. Sorry, that was speaking from experience.)
- Talk with other moms at your place of work. They may have found a secret sauce on how to work the maternity leave at your place of employment. All businesses are different and talking with other moms can help you make sure you are thinking of all possible scenarios.
Please keep in mind, you may have more options than us. Make sure you get with your Human Resources department as well. You may want to look into some short term disability. We didn’t have this with either of our births but it may be that you can find some that would work for you!
How have you made it out of maternity leave? Do you have any special tips?
Check out one of our previous side hustle posts: