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Can I Afford Maternity Leave?

My maternity leave is quickly approaching now. With 3 weeks left until my scheduled C-section, I should probably figure out how much cash I’ll need to make it through a 12 week maternity leave.

Our largest cash outflow is the mortgage, which is around $820 a month. It covers the mortgage, taxes, and homeowners insurance. It is automatically deducted out of my second credit union account, so I will have to periodically transfer cash from my main credit union account to the other once my direct deposit paychecks are halted to those accounts during my maternity leave.

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The next largest cash outflow is my hubby’s student loan, around $300. It is automatically deducted from my hubby’s credit union account. While we have one more forbearance available to us, we don’t plan on using it.

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Our third largest cash outflow is the loan to get the roof repaired. We just got the loan last month, and the $200 payments are automatically deducted out of my main credit union account. Since I am actually paying more than the minimum payment of $150 a month, I can actually lower my payments by $50, but I’ll only do that if there is a shortfall in cash.

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The fourth largest cash outflow is the car lease for $185 a month. The payments are automatically deducted from my hubby’s account.

The second smallest cash outflow is our auto insurance. About $90 is automatically deducted out of my main credit union account. We are currently shopping around for auto and homeowners insurance to see if we can get a lower amount.

And the smallest cash outflow is the internet for $44, which is also automatically deducted out of my hubby’s credit union account. If you can’t already tell, I love automatic payments.

These six payments are ones that I either cannot easily change, such as the loans, lease, or auto insurance, or live without, such as the internet. These items total $1639.00 per month.

There are several additional expenses that, with some changes, I can either decrease or cut all together. The highest of these adjustable expenses is my hubby’s health insurance, a whopping $400 a month, which he picked up this year through the health care exchange. If needed, we could just cut the expense entirely.

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The second largest adjustable expense is our food and household items, which I estimate to be around $350 a month. It includes anything we use on a daily basis, from food and drinks to hygiene to clothes.

The third largest dispensable expense is my daughter’s before and after school care, which is $345 a month. While I could pull her out of the program while I’m on maternity leave, which would cut the expense for three months, she would be placed at the bottom of the waiting list for the program once I return to work, which poses a problem.

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The fourth largest adjustable expense is our electric and gas bill which is $165 a month. We are on budget billing, where the utility company estimates our annual cost and spreads the cost over an 11 month period. That way, 11 of the 12 bills are always the same at $165 per month, and the last bill is either higher because we underpaid or lower because we overpaid.

Gas is our next largest adjustable expense, which is usually around $80 a month. My commute to work is about 20 miles round trip, while my hubby’s commute is a nonexistent 6 miles round trip. I’m sure that the gas expense will decrease a little bit while I’m on maternity leave.

The second smallest adjustable expense is our cell phones, at $65 a month. We both have prepaid, with 250 minutes and unlimited texting each and data on my line. If need be, I could lower the expense to $50 a month and not have data on my line, but I love the convenience of having data.

The smallest adjustable expense is my daughter’s health insurance, at $60 a month. We could cut it entirely, but it has covered almost everything we’ve needed for her, so the benefits of Child Health Plus has greatly outweighed the monthly cost.

The total of these seven adjustable expenses comes to $1465.00. Adding it to the $1639.00 brings our total monthly cash outflow to $3104.00. If I take the full 12 weeks leave, the estimated cash outflow during my maternity leave is $9312.00. To balance the cash outflow, my hubby will take four weeks of the new Paid Family Leave at birth while I take eight weeks of Paid Family Leave. During the last four weeks, either my hubby will work and I will stay home unpaid, or I’ll return to work and my hubby will take his remaining four weeks of Paid Family Leave.

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Daycare Is Expensive. And Totally Worth It.

Childcare is one expensive necessity for working parents. Before my daughter reached kindergarten, the weekly cost of full time daycare was anywhere from $180 and $200, depending on her age (infant care is typically more expensive than toddlers and preschoolers).

That’s $10,400 a year for an infant. Now that she’s school aged, the cost for before and after school childcare and the summer is roughly half of what it was this time last year. I don’t have much more time to enjoy this increase in my cash flow, however, as our second child is due in less than 10 weeks.

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Every now and then, I freak out about how we are going to afford an infant and a school aged child in daycare. Then my wonderful husband reminds me that we are in a much better financial position now then we were when our daughter was born more than 5 years ago. We now own a house, one of the two cars is on the verge of being paid off, and we have only one student loan (his) rather than two (his and mine).

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Despite the expense of childcare looming in 2018, I will be forever grateful for the daycare’s role in our daughter’s upbringing, and the role it will play in our second child’s upbringing as well. It allows my hubby and I to work and advance our careers, and thus increase our earning potential as she gets older and continually asks for things that are increasingly more expensive (like an iPad, which I said no to). As a working parent, a mom, and a woman, I can also teach her to be an independent woman and to work towards a goal, whatever it may be, rather than relying on someone else. In addition, bearing the expense of daycare allows us to earn a higher household net income than if one of us stayed at home with the children.

Relying on daycare also lets the teachers, who are much more knowledgeable in early childhood development than I am, help her reach the proper milestones and teach her the curriculum that prepares her for primary school. We had our first parent-teacher conference with our daughter’s Kindergarten teacher a few weeks ago, where the teacher said Lilly has already reached the end of school year goal of writing all 52 letters (the entire alphabet in uppercase and lowercase), largely due to daycare and pre K (also called preschool).

In addition, daycare exposed Lilly to a variety of social situations that I, as an introvert, naturally shy away from. She’s played with kids from different backgrounds, demographics, and those with physical disabilities. Lilly also knows a few of her kindergarten classmates from daycare, which made the transition from daycare to school that much easier.

And lastly, daycare has kept me sane. While my hubby would have no problem with being a stay at home dad, I was going crazy by the second month of my maternity leave when Lilly was first born. I yearn for the mental challenge of working and having a career and cringe at idea of losing my self-identity to become a stay at home mother.

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