9 ways to survive when money’s tight on Maternity Leave (or Pat Leave)

By Maria Weyman

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Being on maternity ‒ or paternity leave ‒ usually means you’re taking a pay cut, and that can leave you feeling perpetually broke.

Not only are you bringing in a smaller income each month, but you’re also shelling out for baby items you never had to buy before. Despite the crunch, many parents also struggle with the temptation to shop more than usual since they have extra time to spend wandering around the malls or browsing online.

However with some effort, it’s possible to get through maternity leave with your finances ‒ and your sanity! ‒ intact.

Challenge yourself

Saving money can be kind of fun if you make a game out of seeing how much you can save ‒ and then trying to beat your own record.

1.) Get your thrift on

Babies outgrow their clothes very quickly, and secondhand items are usually in nearly-new condition because they’re hardly worn.

So why not plan an outing at the thrift store, meet up with a friend (who’s also on mat leave) and dig through the bins and racks together.

2.) Try couponing

Even if you’ve never clipped a coupon in your life, there’s no better time to learn.

You can save on groceries once you learn how to find grocery coupons online, how to stack coupons, and earn money with cash-back couponing apps.

Pssst. Babies also come with some handy freebies if you know where to look.

3.)  Trim the budget

Sit down and look at where your spending could be tightened, and decide on a goal that’s going to help you spend less each month.

If you’re overspending on groceries ‒ after all, you are home all of the time now ‒ maybe you can set a strict budget and really stick to it.

If you’re visiting the coffee shop a little too often, make the effort to bring a hot drink in a travel mug when you head out the door.

Look for free fun

It might feel like every activity costs money, but there are so many ways to get out that are absolutely free.

4.) Take a walk

Walking is a great way to explore new neighbourhoods, get some exercise, and lower your stress levels by breathing in the fresh air.

Babies also enjoy going for walks, and usually the movement lulls them to sleep. If it’s too cold or rainy to walk outside, look for an indoor track. Often it’s free for people from the community to use, and you can bring the baby in their stroller.

5.) Try something new

Most gyms and fitness centres offer a trial membership, whether it’s a day pass or even a full week. By expressing interest in maybe joining their facility, you can get the chance to try out their equipment, sweat through a cardio class, and take a shower in peace.

Bonus points if you find a place that offers free daycare for your little one!

6.) Join a group

There are usually free playgroups where new parents can bring their babies and get a little adult socialization.

Find out where and when there’s a group near your home, and don’t be shy about introducing yourself to fellow new parents. Babies are a natural icebreaker ‒ just compliment their outfit or ask their mom or dad where they bought that great diaper bag.

Take care of yourself

You might feel like your wants and needs are suddenly far less important, since any available cash is going towards items for the baby. But there are affordable ways to give yourself a little pick-me-up while you’re home with the baby.

7.) Spruce up your wardrobe

If you’ve given birth, you might be stuck in the awkward stage where your maternity clothes are too big and your regular clothes are still uncomfortably tight.

What about selling your maternity clothes (providing you’re not planning more pregnancies) and using the cash to buy a few new pieces?

If you can’t sell any of it, what about repurposing a few items to get a better fit that isn’t permanent?

8.) Freshen up your decor

It’s probably not in the budget to get new furniture or accessories, but you can play around with making your own decor and storage solutions.

You can also sell the items you don’t want anymore to bring in a little cash.

9.)  Host a gathering

Being at home with a baby, day in and day out, can be isolating. Even if you’re short on cash, don’t feel you can’t afford to invite other parents to come over for a playdate.

No one will expect a fancy spread — coffee or tea, and a simple plate of cookies is plenty — and they’ll return the favour by having you over another day.

The much-needed adult socialization is worth every penny.

Maria Weyman is Co-Founder of creditcardGenius, the only tool that compares 50+ features of more than 150 Canadian credit cards using math-based ratings and rankings that respond to your needs, instantly.

Leave a Reply