Unfortch, over the next several months I'll be getting a nice little lesson in "cutting back". Obviously I'm not happy about it. I'll be making about 60% of my normal salary while on maternity leave, and while I appreciate getting to spend up to a year at home coddling my offspring, I'm a bit sooky about the financial implications.
Earning less = spending less. And as it is, I'm not a big extravagant spender. It's not like I've been throwing down $300 on jeans and shoes all willy-nilly each week - I'm already pretty frugal. So knowing that I should be spending even less makes me all kinds of cranky.
I don't know where to start when it comes to cutting back, so I started by making a list of some of my upcoming expenses and trying to figure out ways to save:
Car Insurance: I got my invoice for car insurance for the year: $1,033. I shopped it around and the lowest price I could find anywhere was $1,004. Yes, a savings of $29. Yes, I switched insurance providers. For $29.
Christmas Gifts: Peter and I have already agreed we're going to buy less for one another after last year's embarrassment. We kept picking up "one more gift" for each other and in the end our living room was FULL of presents...presents for us. People came over and were like "oh, where'd you get that?" and we were like..."we bought it for ourselves". Over and over. It was horrible. Or they'd be like, "Wow, is all that for you two?" and I'd try to use the dog as an excuse. "A lot of these presents are actually Rory's."
Ouch...Nevertheless, Christmas is going to be expensive, no two ways around it. Luckily I'll be getting free Christmas cards from my new BFFs at Shutterfly :)
Bills: Not much you can do about bills. We've already installed thermostats to regulate the temperatures in the house and canceled our movie channel package in favour of Netflix which is much cheaper. I'm sure our water and power bills will be higher since we'll be doing 927380 more loads of laundry per week.
Groceries: Again, you gotta eat, but I'm sure we could be eating for less. I'd like to start making bigger batches of things - soups, chilis, etc - in the slow cooker, and freezing portions to heat up. Much cheaper in the long run than buying packaged food. We'll also probably start taking advantage of our Costco membership for some bulk stuff too.
Clothing: I'll soon (hopefully!) be back to my normal-ish size and shape and I'm going to be wanting new clothes. After spending months in yoga pants and H&M empire waist dresses I can't wait to wear real clothes again. I'm signing up for all the email coupons I can find and will continue to troll sale racks like it's my job and hunt for pieces with lots of longevity that will work for many different occasions.
Books: I've been using my library card instead of buying new books every month which has already saved me some dough! Yay!
Entertainment: The baby shall be our entertainment. I'm sure we'll just plop him or her onto their little tummy time mat and command them to make us laugh, and they'll obey.
Obviously, having a newborn will cut down on our dinners out, date nights, and general gallavanting around so we'll have to resort to things like visiting friends and having friends over, board game nights, watching movies at home, cooking fancy dinners and enjoying them by the glow of the baby monitor, and so on. Which, honestly? Doesn't sound so bad.
I also plan on doing lots of crafty stuff while baby naps, with the help of the trusty weekly 40% off coupons from Michael's.
One good thing about going out less is that we'll be burning less gas, too.
Health and beauty: Our gym membership is a must-have so that's an expense that's not going anywhere. I don't go for haircuts often, but I could probably choose a less pricey place to get my hair done - currently I pay about $60 for a cut after tax and tip. In terms of personal care I am probably the slackest person ever. I don't colour my hair and rarely get my nails done, so there's not much more I can do to save in this area.
Baby stuff: In large part thanks to our generous friends and family, we're all ready for baby's arrival. Once they're here, I don't know what kind of money we'll be spending month to month. If breastfeeding works out, that'll be free...if it doesn't, it doesn't. I've heard Costco is the best place to buy diapers and wipes. And everything else we'll just have to learn as we go.
So, new moms and general thrifty people: what do you suggest? If you've been through your own mat leave, how did you cut back? Did you find it hard? Any other tips for saving money that you'd like to share? My bank account and I thank you in advance!