Sadly, Australia is still behind the paid parental leave game versus the rest of the developed world.
Although some companies have made great strides in expanding their parental leave policies, many new parents on unpaid leave are still faced with the option of either surviving on one wage for longer (a good option if you can stretch it but also assuming you are not a single parent) or going back to work as early as possible and paying for childcare after the 18 weeks government assistance has been and gone (and the guilt trip associated with leaving your little butterball with someone else when they have barely mastered the basics of life yet)………can you tell we’ve had a bit of experience in this area?
So …… how does a new parent prepare for and make it through unpaid leave? We have reached out to leading experts (aka fellow Mums in Adelaide) and put together 5 top tips on surviving unpaid parental leave.
Before your maternity madness starts – get organised with your money – because you likely have an income at this point! Soon you won’t and it can hurt the pockets as you will have more time to kill than ever at the shops …. and window shopping all the time is depressing.
My biggest regret prior to leave is not saving just a little bit for a rainy day. You have 9 months to do it! A little bit every week to even put towards your “fun money”, you know – coffees, boredom splurges, a little mummy slush fund OR be more practical and stash away for emergencies! Even $20.00 a week will give you well over $500.00, a definite help to surviving the festive season/birthdays etc.!
*recommend – aim for $50.00 a week to cover the odd date night, unforeseen bills and any emergencies!
Focus on variable expenses
Instead of seeing where you can make money, look at the existing expenses of your life and see how those can decrease. Set aside two hours to call the contributors to your monthly bills to see if there are more affordable plans for you to take advantage of. Meticulously analyse your budget to see where there may be waste. “Work with what you have first before exploring side avenues to make extra dollars.
Pay TV, internet, phone, insurance, home loan, other utilities would be the basics to start with. This does take time and patience but you will be surprised at what you can save OR what added value you may get by just asking the questions. My tip, or actually my husbands is – ask yourself if I want it or do I need it?
*recommend – make a cuppa – sit down and begin dialling – do this prior to baby arriving or get someone to babysit whilst you do this task.
Is it just me BUT I did not know that until recently that shopping after 2pm at the Grocery store … ANY Grocery store too, e.g. Coles, Drakes, Aldi …… you get the bargains!!! I have just discovered this and I am a little happy penny pincher. From fresh flowers (my pre-parental leave splurge) to yummy gourmet breads! New favourite shopping time has now been found!
Recommended: Get your new routine in check to hot the shops late in the day! The later the better!
Op Shops are on trend
It’s easy to get caught up in all the adorable little outfits and latest toys but kids grow so fast and become uninterested in the same toys (sad but true) so you really don’t need to buy that many. You often get a lot of these as gifts anyway. Scout your local op shops or charity stores like Vinnies for toys or the toy library! Bundles of clothes can often be found on Gumtree, and don’t be shy to ask your friends or family for hand-me-downs or time to borrow/test out while they have no need for them at certain times.
P.S. – if anyone would like to loan me a Thermomix, I will collect directly!
Recommend – signing up to a toy library!
If you have penny pinched until you cannot pinch any more, here are some flexible and straightforward ways to make some mummy moula.
Mystery Shopper –. You can take baby with you as well to evaluate customer service at leading stores. Hit the shops and make money. No brainer. Check out listings on SEEK.COM
Student Accommodation – Have a spare room? Open it up to a homestay student or University student in exchange for a tax-free income of $250.00 per week (yes- tax free!) plus a great cultural experience for your family.
Event Staff – Keep on the lookout for agencies needing once-off staff for events like Clipsal, Adelaide Oval Concerts, Fringe, Adelaide Cup Day and large conventions. Check out listings on seek.com.au
Gumtree Hustle – A no brainer but a refresher that is so eeeeasy to sell unwanted goods on Gumtree. Kill 2 birds with 1 stone by making space while making money. Just remember take attractive pictures, use positive descriptors and be open to negotiation. Facebook Marketplace is also a great spot for this.
Spare Space – Earn money by renting out your spare space (yes, you may even kill a bonus bird with that stone you threw at the last point) Once you clear out the clutter jump onto spacer.com.au and list your garage or car park space with rules attached and let spacer do the rest!