The Financial Therapist: Looking at making ends meet on maternity leave

In partnership with NatWest

Posted by for Money

Stylist’s financial therapy series tackles real issues from women about their financial matters. Each week sees a new issue discussed with a financial expert to destigmatise the way we talk about money  - this week it’s dealing with the balance between money and maternity leave…

The problem

“I’d love to enjoy the last months of my maternity leave” - Laura Simpson, 32, is scared about making ends meet during her maternity leave

“I’ve always been a good saver, but prior to going on maternity leave, I’d been trying to save a lot more.

However, I’m coming to the end of nine months, so statutory maternity pay will end and I’m planning on taking 12 months’ leave.

This is making me really nervous as I’ll have less income for the basics. 

I’m also starting to think about my daughter’s future: should I have a will? How do we save for her? I’d love to be able to be more spontaneous with money and enjoy the last of my maternity leave, but feel I can’t.

I opened my first bank account when I was quite young and as a family we talked about money a lot, so I’ve always been cautious. 

I’ve never once been overdrawn and only got a credit card to improve my credit score. 

Even my dad tells me to lighten up, but I just can’t help it. 

I’d love to relax a little more and know exactly what I should be doing to safeguard my financial future.

The tips

“It’s challenging when you’ve been completely independent, earning your own salary and in complete control of your finances, and then suddenly maternity leave shakes that up” - Bari Tessler is a financial therapist and author of The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness 

“Firstly, well done for being on top of your finances. 

You’re evidently a great saver, which seems innate to your personality type, and you’ve also been given a solid financial education from your family. 

But you clearly aren’t enjoying your extra spending beyond the basics.

Saving is wonderful, but if we’re too extreme on either side of the spectrum, it can be detrimental. 

While many of us would benefit from looking at our finances more, if you’re naturally anxious around money, you’ll probably find it more useful to lessen the amount of time you focus on it.

I would recommend designating one day a week to your finances. 

This ‘Money Date’ should be the day you honour the financial part of your life and spend a few hours doing things such as organising your will, mapping out how to pay off your student loan, or simply reviewing your money goals.

Think about adding somebody to your Financial Support Team – perhaps you would benefit from hiring an accountant or a financial therapist to help you plan. Giving yourself this time where you’re fully focused on your relationship with money will help you let it go for the rest of the week. 

Hopefully, you can then concentrate more on enjoyment rather than worry about your finances.

Of course, there’s an extra layer here. It’s challenging when you’ve been fully independent, earning your own salary and in control of your finances, then suddenly maternity leave shakes that up.

While planning for the future is fantastic, it’s important to also enjoy the now. 

Try adding in some kind of mindfulness practice. Have you thought of trying meditation? Doing this will also encourage you to live more in the present. 

Learning to calm your mind will eventually give you the view that this is only a transitional phase, and not forever”

For more support around financial issues, join A Woman’s Worth Collective - a space created by Stylist and NatWest for women to talk to each other and experts about what they can be doing to improve their financial wellbeing - with no judgments or biases. 

NatWest is the bank that believes ‘we are what we do’. Whatever your financial needs, they’ll do all they can to help keep your relationship with money healthy. When it comes to family and finances, NatWest Senior Personal Banker Nadine Kaya suggests the following:

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