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Protect yourself: financial tips for the many stages of being a Mum

It can feel like the list of things to worry about as a parent is endless. So why add financial pressures to the mix?

Supporting a new addition to the family can be a daunting prospect, even for financially healthy families. This is often exacerbated for women, as the person most likely on average to interrupt their career – and super contributions.

Upon returning to work, things also don’t completely improve. One estimate puts the “motherhood penalty” at 5 per cent per hour lower wages (per child) compared with childless women in similar jobs. Incredibly, men are actually said to experience a “fatherhood premium” of around 21 per cent compared to their childless counterparts.

The stats can be a little dreary. So, in celebration of the wonderful work mothers are doing ahead of Mothers’ Day, below are some financial tips for some of the different stages of being a Mum.

 

 1) Before giving birth

Two words: save and prepare!

Saving ahead of baby’s arrival may seem obvious. But it will make a big difference to have some extra funds saved away in case of unforeseen expenses, like extra maternity leave if required.

Preparing can include researching whether you are eligible for things like paid parental leave from the government (those earning under $150,000 prior giving birth should qualify) and/or from your employer. Check out the Childcare Subsidy Calculator to see what you may be able to get back in terms of childcare costs. And don’t be shy about joining online forums and asking other mothers for their tips too! These places can be a treasure trove of useful information.

 

 2) While out of the workforce

…speaking of which, these online forums and other local support groups can be enormously useful when not constrained by the 9-5.

As an example, ‘swap and share’ sites for baby clothes and other accessories are often geographically organized. So, you can snap up a bargain or even a whole bunch of freebies from your local neighborhood from other mothers who understand the challenges of being a new parent. Other groups have a more social function, allowing you to remain connected while reducing your social expenses, by organizing meet-ups which are fun and free to attend.

 

 3) Returning to part-time or casual work

Not every mum wants to return to work. But if you’ve decided you want to tip your toe back in the water, there are many options that can allow you some flexibility.

If your regular profession allows you to work remotely, you could ask to work several days from home, or even going out on your own and freelance.

Or, you could consider different ways to make money from home on the side. Perhaps gain childcare qualifications and look after other people’s children as well as your own? You may even wish to start monetizing some of your creative hobbies, like art, cooking or writing – essentially anything you can do in your home environment.

A number of employment agencies also cater specifically to placing working mothers into flexible jobs.

 

 4) Once they’ve left the coop

Not all women opt to re-enter the workforce after their children have left the family home, but those that do can sometimes find it daunting. This is where renewing qualifications can help to rebuild your confidence, improve your employability, and increase your motivation. You may also gain some helpful career connections at any courses you attend, so don’t be shy about making friends!

You’ve just accomplished one of the most challenging jobs known to humankind – motherhood. You’ve got this.

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Written by Katrina Haskew, Managing Director of Leading Advice.