Having a baby is a very exciting time! But it also comes with a lot of new considerations. Life will be different, whether you expect it or not. For example, babies are expensive! But unlike some of the less predictable aspects of bringing a new human into the world, there are some straightforward money concepts to follow. Here are some tips for financially preparing for maternity leave.
Find Out What Policies Your Job Has
The U.S. does not mandate paid leave so the options will vary dramatically between different places of work. It’s important to find out the policies that are in place and what you’re entitled to. In some cases, it’s possible to apply for short-term disability coverage if your job does not have paid maternity leave. You might have to be at a job for a certain amount of time before that option kicks in. So find out if and when you’re eligible, as well as how much the payout will be.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Many women plan on working up until right before the baby comes, and in some cases, this works great. But pregnancy and childbirth can be very unpredictable and sometimes it’s necessary to start maternity leave earlier than planned. Don’t assume that you’ll be making your full salary throughout the entire pregnancy. Instead, start to budget and save money as soon as possible to cover your bases in case something changes.
Check Your Maternity Coverage with Your Health Care Provider
Some health insurance providers offer different coverage than others. Check to see what yours offers and take advantage of any maternity programs that they might have. Throughout the pregnancy and birth you might see a variety of different doctors. Always make sure that they’re in network and covered by your insurance so you don’t end up with any surprising hospital bills. If your current insurance doesn’t cover a lot of maternity options, try upgrading to a plan that does. And if you see something fishy on one of your bills, call your insurance company! We saved several hundred dollars by questioning a bill we got for a regular pre-natal checkup, which should have been covered in full. They investigated and set our balance back to $0!
Save Your Vacation Days
If your job doesn’t offer paid maternity leave, you might want to use some of your paid vacation time instead. It won’t necessarily feel fair, but it can be the difference between having an income during those first few weeks at home and feeling the need to go back to work earlier than you’d like. You can also attempt to negotiate for some paid maternity time whether or not your employer actually offers it. You might not get it, but you might, especially if you’re a valued employee. You can also offer alternative options like starting back up with part time work from home as soon as you feel ready. This could also help ease your transition back into full-time when that time comes.
Set a Budget
Having a child costs money all around, from the gestation process to sending that kid to college. Your financial outlook might change significantly when a child comes into the picture. Set a budget before you go on maternity leave to get into the habit of saving. This will also help build a savings that you can rely on in an emergency while you’re on maternity leave.