I am a believer in the importance of parental leave. I believe that all parents benefit from it and that there is a way to make it work even if you don’t work for a company that offers paid leave. It takes planning ahead and yes, discipline, but if you can commit, you can learn how to save for your baby as a freelancer.
The method for saving money is fairly simple: cut your expenses and/or increase your income. Some of the problems begin when we get used to a routine with our finances and stop thinking about how to make adjustments. The Trader Joes haul each week sure is fun, and who wants to cut back on purchases each time they release a new product, right? Some expectant parents who don’t have paid leave may automatically assume maternity leave or parental leave is off the table because they haven’t done things differently for so long.
Are you willing to think outside of the box and examine your money habits? If you are, you may be able to learn how to save for a baby even as a freelancer and have the parental leave you desire. Here are some simple ways to start your money-saving journey.
Develop a parental leave budget
The most basic part of designing custom maternity leave as a freelancer is developing a budget. If you don’t have one or haven’t evaluated it in a while, you may immediately be able to see where you can make effective adjustments. If you are a whiz at budgeting, well, you still need to dive into it, as you might not be reading this if you already know how you are going to take significant time off of work when your baby comes.
A parental leave budget has two parts: a look at your current expenses and a look at what you need to cover while you step away from work to spend time with your baby. Some structure can really help with this. Having things outlined for you in a way so that all you need to do is fill in the blanks can make something big suddenly seem simple.
To help, I have developed my Parental Leave Budget Worksheet. The worksheet outlines current expenses, current income, additional expenses that you want to plan for during your leave, a custom sayings goal formula, business considerations, tips for achieving goals, and more.
Want to access this worksheet and other free resources? Unlock the vault here.
Want a great resource for budgeting? Check out one of my favorite money books: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Make a firm decision on how much you need to save
Based on the budget worksheet you will get an idea of ongoing living expenses and things that need to be funded periodically through the year and therefore addressed during your leave. The process also allows parents to think about expenses that will be unique to the postpartum months and the type of experience they’d like to have and therefore fund. For instance, if a couple will have one person at home with your infant and one working again after a couple of weeks, would it be helpful to have a cleaning service come once a week? What about meal delivery?
Having a specific goal agreed upon ahead of time makes it SO much easier to begin making decisions that will help you save for a baby as a freelancer. The more clear you are on what you need to pay for and the more specific you can be on how much you’ll save to pay for it, the more likely you will be to have a fully funded maternity leave.
Boost your income while you wait for the baby
Cutting expenses isn’t the only way to save for maternity leave. Increasing income is an effective way to make it happen, especially if combined with cutting back.
Is there a new service or more hours that you can offer your current clients? A brand new offering you can launch to your social media audience? A side hustle you can pick up for the short term? A seasonal job that you can take on temporarily? Make a list of any and all options and then begin exploring them.
There are more opportunities for side-hustles than there have been in a long-time, but some are better than others. Check out my blog post on the top ways for earning extra cash that I recommend for freelancers saving for maternity leave.
Cutting back on certain expenses, even temporarily
One of my favorite things about doing a budget assessment and spending plan is taking a look at reoccurring charges. You’d be surprised how much people can typically trim back in these areas for an upcoming goal such as maternity leave planning.
Variable expenses that many individuals can cut down on include:
- Media subscriptions
- Streaming services
- Unplanned for snacks and drinks such as coffee, drinks at the gas station, lunches out
- Ordering in for meals
- Group memberships
- Books and magazines
- New clothes
A lot of these expenses seem small, but remember, they add up collectively. Try choosing a handful of things to put on hold just for 3-6 months. Put the same amount of money into your fund and you will see the difference it makes!