I don’t know about you, but I had envisioned saving lots of money while on maternity leave. I figured if I was home most of the time then logically I wouldn’t have to needlessly spend, and in turn, my bank account would maintain a nice, cushy balance. Yeah, right. In actual reality, my bank account started to deplete rather quickly and I had no idea where all my money was going!
Being self-employed, and relying entirely on my savings during this time, I had to figure out exactly where and what I was spending on, and fast. Looking over my credit card statements made tracking my spending easy enough, but the ‘why’ was the hard part.
Soon enough I had my answer. On a miserable day where nothing was going right in the Land of Motherhood and I was about to lose.my.mind., I decided some retail therapy was in order. It was then, when leaving the store with yet ANOTHER candle that I didn’t need, that it hit me: shopping was filling some serious maternity-leave-loneliness. Duh.
Feeling lonely on maternity leave is normal. Think about it: the newborn stage is like dealing with the world’s worst boss. You are expected to work overtime with no compensation, screamed at regularly, and are never ever given positive feedback. It’s no wonder I sought comfort in retail therapy. Thankfully, I found some creative ways to not only save money, but in some cases, also curb those feelings of isolation.
So, if you’re an expecting mama and wondering how in the world you can save some money on mat leave, I’ve got you covered. Read on for my top tips for saving while on mat leave (some of which are free!):
Search Free Community Activities for you and baby
A quick and simple Google search of free baby activities in your city will yield quite a few results. And you’ll be surprised by some of the cool offerings! For instance, in my city, there are mommy and baby yoga classes, salsa lessons, gymnastics drop-ins, fitness bootcamps, public swimming, and so many others! Not only are these activities FREE but they are also a great way to socialize with other millennial moms.
Host a Clothing Swap
Take it from me, do not go overboard with shopping for baby clothes. Yes, the tiny clothes will make you squeal with cuteness-overload but between your purchases as well as gifts from family and friends, there will be clothes that go unworn. Instead, the easy solution is to host a clothing swap! Get together other moms and ask them to bring over clothing that either their baby has outgrown or does not yet fit into, and which they wouldn't mind exchanging. I particularly love this idea because you get to ‘shop’ your friends’ babies’ wardrobes! Making it a regular get-together is good incentive to keep you out of the mall, too.
Buy Second Hand
Babies come along with a lot of expensive equipment and outgrow them pretty quickly. One way that I have kept expenses to a minimum is by shopping for gear and toys second hand. Online marketplaces will usually have a large assortment of brand-name baby items that are in great condition. For my daughter, I saved a ton by buying a used swing, crib, and dresser, all for a steal. My girlfriend also found an Uppababy Vista stroller in mint condition for a can’t-beat-it price. You do have to be careful with certain items like car seats and cribs (which can expire), but overall it’s a great way to find gently used toys and clothing without the brand new prices.
Organize Play dates
A huge portion of my spending during maternity leave went towards fancy coffee and lunches out. When you have cabin fever it’s SO easy to accept invitations to restaurants and cafés multiple times a week. The problem is that these ‘small’ purchases quickly add up. Instead, try organizing regular play dates with a group of moms. You can put out a few simple snacks and drinks, and because each mom will take turns at hosting it’s a great way to not only save money but also get in some social time.
In the early, sleep-deprived newborn stage, there was nothing more I dreaded than making dinner. And this is coming from someone that enjoys cooking! I was just so damn tired (a real walking mombie) that regular take-out dinners became my go-to. You can imagine the impact this had on my wallet. To curb this spending I started meal planning, and it honestly changed my life. You know exactly what you’re eating every night of the week, you can meal prep on the weekends to save time on weeknights, and you don’t go nuts at the grocery store with hangry impulse-purchases. It’s kind of a no-brainer. And if you’d like to try it but don’t know where to start, click here for my ultimate guide to meal planning!
Did you find it almost too easy to spend during maternity leave? Do you have any other great saving tips to share? I'd love to hear!