How to Prepare Financially for Maternity Leave if You Aren’t Getting Paid

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Very few women are eligible for twelve weeks of paid maternity leave through their employers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2015, 12% of private sector workers had access to paid family leave. Yes, just twelve percent – that’s how uncommon paid maternity leave is in the United States.

In other words, if you want to take time off, you may need to do some serious financial planning. Here are some tips.

1. Set a Financial Goal for Your Maternity Leave

Figure out how many weeks of time off you think you’ll need. Then, decide how much money you’ll need to cover those weeks that you’re not pulling a paycheck. Set a savings goal for a specific amount per month to put into your maternity fund.

2. Follow a Budget

By cutting back on unnecessary expenses, picking up side work, and saving money, you can often save a lot. As soon as you find out you’re expecting, you should start really working saving for your time off. While you should always be budgeting, now’s the time to really put your nose to the grindstone. Decide what you can live without and eliminate it.

3. Consider Additional Expenses

Not only do you have to contend with the lost wages from taking time off, but you’ll also have new expenses. Depending on your insurance coverage, you may have out of pocket expenses related to your pregnancy. Before having tests performed, always call your insurance provider to ensure they’re covered.

Additionally, you may require maternity clothing, baby supplies, and other things you aren’t used to buying.

4. Make Extra Cash

Sometimes it’s not enough to just curb expenses and save money you’re already making. See if there’s part-time side work or freelance gigs you can take on to help pad your savings. Wouldn’t you rather hustle and work a little harder in the early days of your pregnancy than after?

5. Make Concessions if Necessary

If you really can’t save enough to take your desired amount of time off, consider other options. For instance, see if you can lighten your workload when you return to work. Perhaps you can work from home or temporarily work part-time instead of full. Having a well-planned conversation with your boss can go a long way towards making your return to work easier.