Becoming a New Parent While Dealing with Previous Debt: 3 Tips for Budgeting For Your Kids

Tips for Budgeting For Your Kids

Children are a blessing, and planned for or not, you will have to figure out how to support them, support yourself, and deal with past debt.

 

 

 

Tips for Budgeting For Your Kids

Here are three easy tips to get that debt paid off and thrive, not only survive, within your means.

 

Tip #1: Claim all of the Public Benefits to Which You Are Entitled

Fortunately, there are social programs to help support you and your growing family. Be sure to apply for all benefits that you may qualify for.

 

Benefits any Mother Can Claim While Pregnant

  • Free NHS dental care during your pregnancy and for the year after the baby is born.
  • Free prescriptions while you’re pregnant and for a year after the baby is born (England).
  • Free prescriptions at all times (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). 

Your doctor or midwife can provide you with the Maternity Exemption form (FW8) to complete and submit.

 

Benefits a Mother Can Claim When She is Employed – More Tips for Budgeting For Your Kids

 

Paid Time Off for Antenatal Appointments

Every employed mother can take paid time off to attend antenatal appointments, including medical and midwife appointments and doctor-recommended appointments like counseling or parenting classes. This will include travel time.

The baby’s father or your partner (of any gender) can take unpaid time from work to accompany you to two of your antenatal appointments. Currently, the maximum time of unpaid leave available is capped at 6.5 hours per appointment.

 

Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay

An employed mother is entitled to up to 39 weeks of leave and pay, if she earns an average of at least £120 per week, and has been working for that employer for at least 26 weeks.

To claim paid maternity leave, a mother must give notice to her employer by the 15th week before the baby’s due date, and provide proof of pregnancy.

 

Benefits a Mother Can Claim When Not Employed

 

Maternity Allowance

If a mother cannot claim Statutory Maternity Pay, she can claim Maternity Allowance. Reasons a mother might be eligible for Maternity Allowance include:

  • She did not work for that employer long enough;
  • She is self-employed;
  • Her average pay is less than £120 per week;

The amount of Maternity Allowance a mother may be eligible for will depend upon her earnings and will last for up to 39 weeks. 

 

 

Benefits for the Mother’s Partner

Statutory Leave and Pay

The mother’s partner can get one or two weeks’ paid time off work to help look after your new baby. The partner must be either:

  • the child’s biological father or adopter (of any gender)
  • the mother’s partner (of any gender)
  • the intended parent (if the baby is born through surrogacy).

The mother’s partner must have worked for the current employer for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due, continue to be employed at that job until the baby is born, and earn at least £120 per week.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Shared parental leave and pay provide up to 50 weeks’ parental leave and 37 weeks’ pay shared with your partner if you’re eligible. Maternity leave and maternity pay or Maternity Allowance must expire before either parent can get Shared Parental Leave or Pay.

 

Tip #2: Craft a Monthly Budget and Stick to It

Once you’ve determined what resources are available to you and how much you will be earning or eligible for, create a timeline for leaving work, your partner leaving work, and record how much money the family will be bringing in when. This will allow you to plan for the period running up to birth, the birth itself, and the year following the birth.

 

List your monthly expenses, including the minimum monthly payment you must make on debt. Be sure those expenses can be met by the family’s income, otherwise, you will need to cut back or find somewhere to conserve. Make those decisions now so that you can relax and enjoy the baby’s arrival.

 

Begin to plan for the baby’s arrival by purchasing necessities over the months you have to plan. Ask friends and family for outgrown clothing and unused carriages, car seats, and cribs they might have available. Any family with young children will likely have these items and be glad to lend them to you, saving you that expense.

 

 

Tip #3: Commit to Paying Off Debt Now, to Save for the Future

Begin to pay off debt now, and do not incur new debt. This is very important. Living within your means is a habit you can start to cultivate now, when you are planning for the arrival of your baby, and it is a habit you can model and teach your children so they learn to live happily within their means too.

If you can, pay twice the monthly minimum on credit cards to begin to pay down that debt. Once the debt is paid off, start contributing to your retirement account with half the amount you were paying towards debt, and use the other half of that payment to start an emergency fund for your family. Conventional wisdom these days recommends saving at least 6-8 months’ worth of expenses in case of a rainy day.

If you have an adequate emergency savings fund, you won’t have to incur additional debt should an emergency arise, saving you the money you would have paid in interest. 

Best of luck with your growing family!

 

About the Author of Tips for Budgeting For Your Kids

Veronica Baxter is a legal assistant and blogger living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyer David M. Offen.

 

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