Maternity pay varies depending on your job and situation. Some companies offer full pay for a whole year, imagine that! Others offer a middle ground of a top up with a written contract that you have to work an agreed amount of weeks upon your return or else you have to pay the top up money back. Others don’t offer anything and you are left with statutory pay. So you have up to 12 months off work with your little one, but after a few weeks or months you soon realise your maternity pay SUCKS.
Now I was given a schedule of my maternity payments so was able to plan a few things that would help me along the way. It’s fantastic being off with your little one, but without money for coffee and cake dates, baby groups, soft play, shopping, and to fund the baby clothes addiction, it isn’t much fun. That isn’t even mentioning paying rent/mortgage, bills, council tax, car/transport, petrol, food etc.
So I just wanted to share a few things I have done that have helped me through my maternity leave so far.
- I switched bank accounts in return for a £100 giftcard.
This came about because my previous bank were putting up their charges, I used to pay £10 a month on my account which got me breakdown cover, European travel insurance and mobile phone insurance. I think there was something to do with my overdraft too but I don’t remember. They wanted to put this up to £15 just as I was finishing work for Maternity leave. With my husband’s help we worked out that our house insurance actually covered my phone, I could get breakdown cover with Green Flag for £40 a year and I wouldn’t be needing travel insurance for the foreseeable future anyway. So rather than paying £120 a year in bank fee’s, I took out the Green Flag and that has saved me £80 already for the year. It’s never been easier to switch bank accounts, there is a service that does it all for you. There is a bit of admin involved but I sorted it when I was bored waiting for Xavier to arrive. My bank switch left me with no monthly fee and a £100 M&S gift card. You could spend this on baby clothes, treats for yourself, anything. I’ve used mine mainly for coffee, cake and lunch in the café when I need to get out the house but I’m skint. I also used some of it to buy a present for someone when again I didn’t have any spare cash. The same bank I switched to now offers a £120 gift card. For each month you receive £1000 paid into your account, they will also put another £10 a month on your gift card for the 12 months after you have switched. Now I won’t benefit from this until I return to work, but once I do that’s another £60 on my gift card.
- I switched phone providers.
Again this came about as my contract ran out in Sept 16 and I was going to just keep my phone and go SIM only but I did a lot of research and for what I wanted it was cheaper to move networks and go on a new contract with a new phone (I had an iPhone 5S before and now have iPhone 5SE) with 16gb storage for all those baby photos. My Husband was happy too as he got my old iPhone but you could sell this on one of the various websites and make a few pennies! I switched to O2 who offer O2 Priority, you download the app for freebies and discounts. So now every Tuesday I can get a free hot drink, any size, at Café Nero. This has been brilliant, and don’t feel embarrassed as there seems to be a whole crew of us in my local store on a Tuesday afternoon all flashing our phones for the free drink. They also randomly give other free things like crisps, chocolate bars, cosmetics etc usually from WH Smiths or Boots. They regularly have a 50% off body shop code too which could be handy for gifts etc.
- Save up your loyalty points.
I saved all my Costa points for the last year so I have a few free coffee’s I can claim there now. I’m saving my Tesco points to trade in for some cinema tickets for a much needed baby-free date. Most of us save our boots points for a treat anyway but again I’ve used this to treat myself to a nail varnish or something when I needed cheering up. Krispy Kreme also send me a free donut voucher when I haven’t visited them for so many weeks or months. So I am basically on a loop of free donuts with them, if hubby is with me then we will splash out and buy one so we have one each, but still. Free Krispy Kreme- can’t beat it.
- Check your emails for Birthday offers.
Krispy Kreme sent me a code for a free donut. A local garden centre sent me a voucher for a free slice of cake. I have no idea why they still have my details but a hairdressers from back home sent me a voucher. I got various discount codes from some high street shops too as a birthday treat. I claimed the free food and didn’t bother with the others but you never know what might come along in that inbox near your birthday.
- Sell, Sell, Sell.
Get selling stuff! We did a car boot sale whilst I was pregnant and made about £100 which cleared loads of space and paid for Xavier’s cot and a few other bits. I have always sold the odd thing on ebay but it can be time consuming, but now I am on maternity leave I have more time to sit and do it. According to ebay, in the last 60 days I have made £60 from selling mine and Xavier’s old clothes. I’ve spent that back buying second hand clothes for Xavier in next sizes, and on other bits for him but effectively, with a bit of effort I’ve got all those things for free. I always do buy-it-now and a low price as I just want rid of stuff and don’t find auctions to be that successful. I have also donated TONS of clothes to charity and handed down to younger babies too, so I am doing my bit for other people too.
I hope this has been an interesting read and even if I help one person save a few pennies or get some freebies then my work is done! I don’t care if you think I’m a tight arse, I think you have to be once you have a baby! I have always loved a freebie though. A few other pointers that are more obvious:
- Buy second hand baby clothes from charity shops, ebay or Instagram ‘what xxxx wore’ / ‘preloved by xxx’
- Sign up for Boots Parenting club, you get so many age appropriate freebies and vouchers. I’ve had pregnancy vitamins, a box of breast pads, a packet of nappies, a MAM bottle and soother, a Nuby drinks cup and a few other things for free.
- Sign up for Emma’s Diary. You do get a lot of spam email but just unsubscribe once you’re done with them. Once signed up you can print off various free packs to collect from Boots or Argos. These are full of sample size freebies from big companies.
- Go to a Baby & Toddler show, I always get emailed free tickets from Emma’s Diary just a couple of days before the event, so I play chicken and don’t buy tickets in the hope the email with free ones comes, and it always does. You get various freebies and samples here, as well as big discounts on all things baby. In the feeding area they also have complimentary food pouches.
I’d like to say look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. But this is more like look after the pennies and you won’t end up maxing your overdraft and credit card on maternity leave!