When you find out you’re expecting, no matter your age or life situation, one of the first big fears that arise has to do with money. “How can I afford this?” is often the resounding question when it comes to affording motherhood. It’s important to realize that babies are born on high and low incomes and that, even with an unexpected pregnancy, you have the power to create the life you want. In addition to free pregnancy tests, Informed Choices can provide you with free parenting education and resources, while also connecting you with resources to help you get on your feet. Call or text one of our two centers in Illinois or send us a message online to learn more.
How to Break the Statistic
The number one way you can protect yourself (and your little one) from financial stress is to build savings. Just $400 in cash can be the difference between bankruptcy and stability. If you aren’t already working, finding a job while expecting can be challenging, but isn’t impossible. In addition, workplace pregnancy accommodations are now mandatory in most states, making it easier for you to balance work and pregnancy. Working throughout your pregnancy will help you build this financial cushion and prevent you from being one of the 2/3 of American families who have $0 in savings.
Earning an income and saving throughout pregnancy will help you prepare for maternity leave, when your income may be between 0%-60% of what you earned full-time. Since the typical maternity leave is 6-8 weeks, make a goal to save about 2 months’ worth of necessary expenses in preparation for time with your newborn.
Little by Little, It Is Possible
While it may seem crazy or impossible to save up a few hundred dollars, it’s imperative that you find belief in and motivation toward this goal. Budgeting your income toward savings first and your necessary expenses (rent, utilities, medical care, and groceries) next will make this possible. No matter how much you earn, take 10% of your paycheck and deposit that into your savings account (a $250 paycheck -> $25 in savings) each time you get paid.
By prioritizing savings and needs, you’re establishing excellent financial habits that will benefit your little family long-term. Once you’ve saved and paid for rent, utilities, and groceries, you can use the left-over income to pay for treats, fun outings, and other wants. Here are some helpful tips for making the most of your money:
- Use coupons, savings apps, grocery ads, and buy generic brand items to save money. A dollar saved here or there adds up!
- Create a shopping list in advance and take “inventory” at home before heading to the store. This will help you avoid distractions that could lead to overspending.
- Even with a coupon, cashback, or some other marketing ploy, double-check you’re under budget, you really will use the item, and that it’s an immediate need.
The strongest financial stress typically surfaces when a child is near 6 months old because that’s usually when daycare costs and the pressure from lack of savings collide. Although an extra $5 for an unplanned trip for fast food may not seem like a big deal right now, keep in mind that this tiny human (who’s arriving shortly) will be relying on your self-discipline soon.
Third Trimester Thoughts
It’s no secret that life will be different once your new baby arrives, and your budget will need to adjust too. Later in pregnancy, begin to think about who will care for your infant and what childcare expenses will be required once you return to work. At that time, you’ll need to adjust your budget to account for childcare costs while prioritizing savings and needs over wants.
As your due date approaches, communicate with your employer about your maternity leave and time off. Find confidence in knowing that, in most states, it’s illegal to fire or lay off an employee for medical or pregnancy reasons. With a savings account in place, clear communication with your employer, a job you’ll be able to return to after maternity leave, and budgeting practice underway, you’ve already begun establishing a strong financial foundation for you and your new baby.
No matter your financial position, social status, or family history, there are financial moves you can make immediately, while pregnant, that will reduce the severity of money trouble once your baby arrives. At Informed Choices, we are dedicated to providing you with the support you need throughout your pregnancy. We provide free parenting classes to women and men in Illinois, support for fathers through our Men’s Life program, and an Earn While You Learn program that allows you to earn credits from attending classes that can be used for purchasing maternity and baby items. Contact us today to learn more; we’d love to meet with you.