How much should I save for maternity leave?

How long is maternity leave in the US?

Most women in the US are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, the FMLA only applies to companies with 50 or more employees. Some states like California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have more generous family leave policies that apply regardless of company size. The length of paid maternity leave varies significantly by employer. On average, most women take 10-12 weeks of maternity leave.

How much will I get paid during maternity leave?

If you work for a company that offers paid maternity leave, you will typically receive a percentage of your salary – often around 60-100%. The national average for paid maternity leave is around 67% of regular earnings.

If your employer does not offer paid maternity leave, you may be eligible for short-term disability payments. This also pays around 60% of salary on average.

If you do not get paid leave or disability benefits, you will need to rely on savings during unpaid FMLA leave. Some states have implemented paid family leave programs that provide partial wage replacement.

How much should I plan to save for maternity leave?

As a general rule, aim to save at least 2-3 months worth of living expenses to cover lost income during maternity leave. Here are some tips for calculating your savings goal:

– Estimate your average monthly spending on necessities like housing, food, transportation.

– Factor in any additional medical costs associated with pregnancy and delivery. Out-of-pocket costs could be $500-5,000 or more depending on your insurance.

– Account for a 5-10% increase in monthly spending after the baby arrives. Expenses like diapers and formula add up quickly.

– If you plan to take 3 months off, aim for at least $12,000 in savings to replace your full salary.

– If you will receive partial pay, you may only need 1-2 months of living expenses saved up.

– Beef up your emergency fund to 6 months of expenses in case of complications or an extended leave.

– Open a dedicated savings account and have a set amount auto-transferred each month to build up your fund.

How long in advance should I start saving?

Ideally, you should start saving for maternity leave as soon as you start trying to conceive. It takes most couples 6 months to a year to get pregnant.

– If you already know you want kids, start putting money aside in your early 30s.

– Ramp up contributions after confirming your pregnancy.

– In the first two trimesters, aim to save 50-75% of your goal.

– Try to reach 100% by your third trimester.

– Last minute savings won’t be enough to replace multiple months of income.

Give yourself as much lead time as possible. Saving over 2-3 years is ideal to accumulate sufficient funds without straining your monthly budget.

What if I can’t afford to save that much?

Saving for maternity leave can be challenging, especially if money is tight. Here are some options if you can’t sock away months of living expenses:

– Speak with HR about paid leave benefits and disability pay. This can help offset lost wages.

– See if your state has a paid family leave program. You may qualify for partial pay.

– Budget diligently and cut discretionary spending where possible. Ban eating out, reduce entertainment costs.

– Take on a side gig for extra income. Freelance writing or rideshare driving offers flexibility.

– Move to a less expensive apartment to free up savings capacity. Or get a roommate.

– Ask family members to gift money for baby expenses instead of physical presents.

– Consider an affordable online baby shower to collect needed supplies like diapers.

– Tap into any work bonuses or tax refunds. Avoid splurging so you can save more.

– Use credit card rewards you’ve accumulated to help with everyday costs.

– If there’s an option to delay your leave, work longer to build savings.

– Discuss options with your partner like using vacation time to extend paid leave.

With diligent budgeting and some lifestyle adjustments, you can get closer to your savings target. Every bit helps ease the financial strain of new parenthood. Don’t wait until the last minute.

What other costs come with having a baby?

Besides lost income during maternity leave, new parents also face a variety of other new expenses when baby arrives:

Medical costs: Out-of-pocket payments for prenatal care, delivery, and postnatal care for mom and baby. Copays and deductibles vary by insurance plan but often total $500-$5,000.

Baby supplies: Stocking up on all the gear needed for a newborn – crib, stroller, car seat, clothes, blankets etc. Budget $1500+ for essentials. Ongoing costs for diapers and wipes can run $70-$100+ per month.

Childcare: Daycare fees for infants average $200-$300 weekly in most states. Nanny shares or family help reduce costs.

Loss of income: If one parent leaves the workforce or cuts back on work, household income drops. Loss of one salary may require financial adjustments.

Healthcare: Adding baby to your health insurance typically increases premiums by $200-$400 monthly. Well-baby visits and vaccines cost extra too.

Larger home: You may need a bigger place for your growing family. Higher rent or mortgage payments stretch your budget.

Factor in these additional expenses when planning your family finances. Cutting costs in other areas helps direct more money towards baby needs.

What are some strategies to save for maternity leave?

Here are some practical tips for setting aside money for your time off during and after pregnancy:

– Open a dedicated high-yield savings account. Set up automatic transfers from each paycheck.

– Take advantage of workplace Flexible Spending Accounts if offered. Use pre-tax dollars for medical costs.

– Reduce or pause 401k contributions temporarily to redirect income towards maternity leave savings.

– Create a budget tracking all spending. Identify areas to cut like dining out, entertainment, shopping.

– Downsize housing or bring in roommates if current rent/mortgage exceeds budget.

– Cook in bulk and freeze meals to save on grocery bills. Meal prep takes little time with a new baby anyways.

– Cut the cable cord and subscriptions. Stream free options until finances improve.

– Apply credit card rewards towards everyday purchases for cash back.

– Take on freelance work or monetize a hobby like photography for side income.

– Have a garage sale or sell stuff you don’t use on eBay. Every bit of profit helps.

– Negotiate lower rates on bills like cell phone plans, cable and insurance. Loyalty discounts add up.

– Let family and friends know about your savings goal. They may gift cash or offer help instead of physical presents.

– Talk to your manager about flexibility. Working remotely may allow you to extend your leave.

With consistent savings contributions and sensible budget cuts, you can reduce financial anxiety during your maternity leave.

How do I budget for costs after maternity leave ends?

Your finances will continue to be stretched after you return to work from maternity leave. Here are some areas to account for in your ongoing budget:

– Childcare: Expect to spend 10-25% of your take-home pay. Compare daycare centers and in-home sitters. See if your employer offers discounted spaces or FSA contributions.

– Baby supplies: Estimate about $100 per month for diapers, wipes, formula if needed. Shop store brands and buy in bulk. Sign up for coupons and loyalty programs.

– Medical: Pediatrician visits and vaccinations often top $500 the first year. Well-baby checkups cost $100-200 apiece without insurance.

– Housing: Converting a spare room into a nursery or upgrading to a larger home increases housing costs.

– Food: Grocery bills may rise 5-15% due to buying baby food, milk, snacks. Resist impulse purchase and shop sales.

– Insurance: Premiums go up an average of $200-$400 monthly if baby is added onto your plan. Every doctor’s visit comes with a copay too.

– Child tax credits: Taking advantage of credits like the Child Tax Credit saves you thousands at tax time.

– Lifestyle changes: Cutting out vacations, eating out and impulse purchases frees up cash for baby’s needs.

– Build an emergency fund: Having 3-6 months of living expenses provides a cushion for unplanned costs.

Forecasting these additional costs will allow you to modify your budget accordingly. With planning, you can transition back to work smoothly.


Preparing financially for maternity leave involves paying close attention to your income, leave benefits, and anticipated expenses. By saving diligently in the months leading up to your due date, you can replace enough income to take time off work to recover and bond with your newborn. Budget adjustments will also be necessary to accommodate your expanded family’s ongoing costs. Speak with your partner, family, and employer to maximize available resources. While it requires effort and discipline to save, being proactive reduces the financial anxiety of this major life change. With the right preparation, you can embrace the joy of parenthood with greater peace of mind.

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