Want to Take Maternity Leave? Better Start Saving Now

cost of having a baby
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Here’s a riddle: what do the United States, Suriname and Papua New Guinea have in common?

Stumped? One shocking — but true — response: We’re the only countries without paid maternity leave.

Here in the States, we have the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires employers to offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new parents — but this only applies if your company has more than 50 employees and you’ve been working there for more than a year.

So the harsh reality is, if you want to have children and not go off the rails financially, you need to save quite a bit of money.

In a recent post for Get Rich Slowly, Holly Johnson discusses how much she saved for maternity leave.

Saving for Your Baby-to-Be

Based on her experience giving birth to two kids, Johnson lists three main costs you should take into account:

Hospital Bills

Talk to your insurance company about how much you can expect to pay. Johnson’s bills amounted to around $4,000 for the hospital, doctor’s fees and delivery.

And whatever your deductible is, start saving early — perhaps even before you become pregnant. “If you have a tax-advantaged health savings account, or HSA, you can even stash up to $6,650 for your family per year,” she says.

Lost Income

How much time do you want to take off? Will your employer cover any of your salary? Johnson’s employer offered her six weeks of half-pay; since she wanted to take 10 weeks off, she had to save six weeks of half-pay and four weeks of full pay before her baby arrived.

Also, be sure to check your state’s laws. Some states go above and beyond the federal law, offering “temporary disability” coverage that can help pay for part of your leave.

Baby Supplies

It’s difficult to predict what you’ll end up needing for your baby, so it’s worth putting aside some extra money for unexpected expenses (like specialty doctor visits) and supplies (like detergent for sensitive skin). To get you started, here’s a list of supplies you’ll need for your baby’s first year.

Lastly, Johnson recommends registering for useful items — like diapers and bottles, rather than clothing — to help keep your expenses down.

Want to learn more? Read the full post at Get Rich Slowly.

Your Turn: How much money did you save for maternity leave?

Susan Shain (@Susan_Shain) is a freelance writer and travel blogger who loves helping you find adventure on a budget.