Although some employers offer paid leave, it’s not mandatory in the U.S., which means the time you spend at home after your baby arrives could come with a significant pay cut. Follow these steps to figure out your best course of action.
Figure out what you need.
If you don’t already track your spending, now is the time to start. Determine how much you need monthly to cover essentials (housing, utilities, transportation, groceries), as well as what you typically spend on nonessentials (dining out, clothing, entertainment). Be realistic, so you can get a true sense of what you’ll want to set aside for your leave—and keep in mind you’ll need to factor in some extra for baby-related expenses (hello, diapers!), too.
Talk to human resources.
Once you’re comfortable sharing word of your impending bundle of joy, meet with HR to discuss what your options are. Does your company offer partial pay for a certain number of weeks? Are you able to take advantage of unused sick days or paid time off? Anything your company covers can be subtracted from the total you need in your piggy bank.
Get serious about saving.
The sooner you start pinching pennies, the better. After all, it’s easier to set aside smaller amounts over nine months than it is to come up with a large sum in two. Slash spending where you can (try a picnic in the park instead of a fancy restaurant for date night), and carefully consider every purchase (those new throw pillows could go toward one month’s electric bill).
Let others pitch in.
Baby registries don’t have to be limited to blankets and bottles. Consider using a site like mytake12.com, which allows moms-to-be to create a maternity leave registry, so friends and family can contribute to one of the best gifts of all: time at home with your little one.