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4 Women Tell Us How They Prepared Financially to Have Children

by in Culture on 7th February, 2022

Making the decision to have children can be one of the most exciting journeys you embark on and while Barakah follow each child that comes into this world, planning and organising around your bundle of Rizq is still important and can go a long way to help bring about ease and a sense of security.

With the mountain of advice and tips available out there, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to wade through it all, so we asked you to share your top tips on how to go about the financial aspect of family planning

As we hoped and expected, you came through with stories bursting with wisdom and emotion. You talked about adapting to unexpected pregnancies and also the surprises that you’ve had to work around with unplanned pregnancies. Here’s a spotlight on 4 mothers and their stories that represent the breadth of the experiences you shared with us.

Starting a family can be one of the most exciting moments you’ll experience in life and one that also comes with a new sense of responsibility. It can be hard to know what you need to consider financially and what you need to be doing now to plan ahead for the arrival of your little one. That’s why Amaliah has partnered with Lloyds Bank to help those thinking of having children by highlighting the stories, experiences and advice of others who have already been through the process. This article also gives you the 101 on all things maternity and paternity leave, childcare costs and tips on how to discuss money with your partner to help you step into this new phase of life with a little more clarity. This article is part of a series to help you feel better equipped for the big and small financial decisions in life.

You can read the rest of the articles in the series here:

Financial MOT | 4 Ways to Level up Your Finances

Wedding | Small Nikah to a £100k Wedding: 3 Brides Share Their Financial Tips With Us

Introducing our four mothers

Rosheen Ahmad was juggling a lot just over a year ago. She was pregnant and house hunting with her husband. Rosheen was also a student at university and working part-time with the NHS. Currently, she is a self-employed artist and mother to a 15-month-old.

K is a mum of two who started a side hustle to financially support the new additions to her life. While her first pregnancy might have been a surprise, her experiences led to tremendous growth in all aspects of her life. She is now a mom to a 3-year-old and 8-month baby.

Ramla Hussein is an avid planner who had it all budgeted out, but getting sick during pregnancy meant that she had to go on maternity leave much earlier than planned. She is now a mother to a two-year-old.

Our fourth mama is Madeeha Kashif Seth, a freelancer with a fair share of experience in surprises. Just under a decade ago, her first baby was born much earlier than expected, and as new parents, Madeeha and her partner had to adjust their plans to the needs of a premature baby. They now have two boys aged 8 and 4.

Amaliah’s Short Guide to Maternity and Paternity Pay and Leave

  • Pre-Baby: ​​From a legal standpoint, you must, as far as possible, inform your employer about the pregnancy at least 15 weeks before the baby’s due date. This is also a good time to look into your work’s policies.
  • Post-Baby: Once you’ve had your baby you’re entitled to a year’s maternity leave. You don’t have to take the full year, but you must take at least two weeks off work following the birth of your baby.
  • Statutory Maternity Pay: If you decide to take maternity leave, you could get the legal minimum of up to 39 weeks Statutory Maternity Pay if you’re eligible (you should be earning at least £118 a week on average and you must have worked for your employer for 26 weeks when you reach the 15th week before your due date to qualify)
  • Maternity Allowance: If you don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, you can apply for Maternity Allowance. How much you get depends on how much you earn and how much National Insurance you’ve paid. Use to find out if you are eligible for Maternity Allowance.
  • Paternity Leave and Pay: When your partner gives birth, if you adopt a child or if you have a baby by surrogate, employees may be entitled to one or two weeks paternity leave and paternity pay. Most agency and contract workers aren’t eligible.
  • Shared parental leave: Eligible new parents can use Shared Parental Leave. This lets you share up to 50 weeks of parental leave and 37 weeks of pay with your partner. See if you could be entitled here.
  • Statutory adoption leave and pay: If you are adopting, you can also claim Statutory Adoption Pay and Leave. However, be aware that some rules may be different.

All the above information is correct at the time of the publication of this article.

Can you plan for a baby in advance?  

We know that children are a great Rizq from Allah and with each child, Barakah enters our lives in unmeasurable ways. We all also have different personal situations that contribute to how we approach motherhood and how we plan for this life-changing milestone.

Rosheen and her husband were gathering funds for a house when she was expecting. They had rented previously, lived with in-laws for a while to save up and felt that with careful budgeting, things would fall into place.

“We knew what the end goal was, and that kept us motivated.”

Rosheen’s maternity pay ended after nine months and the next three months were a financial struggle. But all in all, the time taught Rosheen a thing or two about faith, privilege and budgeting:

“Faith has taught me that everything will work out in the end.”

“It was a tough decision to have the additional 3 months off unpaid as I was always used to having a stream of income that I earned independently from my husband. The uncertainty and insecurity did make me feel uncertain to the point where I considered going back to work at 9 months maternity leave, and often mothers don’t have any choice but to return. I was lucky enough that we could just about manage in these three months without any of my income and this time really taught me to be careful with spending.

Making dua and having a firm belief that Rizq is from Allah, made my heart feel at ease.”

We asked Rosheen what changes she felt in her expenses since having children and this is what she had to say:

Removed/reduced: eating out, expensive days out, holidays (but this is also due to the pandemic!)

Increased: weekly food shop, days out/nursery costs/playgroup costs.

But what happens when you never planned for a baby in the first place?

K was working in retail and was not eligible for maternity leave when she found out about her surprise pregnancy the first time around. The couple did not have any savings, and rather than budgeting or cutting costs, they had to find ways to increase their income.

K built her business from the ground up but said the first few years after having her children were some of the hardest for her and her husband as a couple.

“I got pregnant very shortly after marriage, so we didn’t really have time to establish ourselves as a couple. Add in financial strain, familial strain, mental health struggles, and everything else in life, it can be very hard to keep things together. We’ve been on the brink of separation many times, and it’s so hard trying to manage it all and keep your kids happy and carefree in the midst.”

All the mothers who responded to our open call were unanimous that they would never change the fact that they had children. Still, it helps to have as much financial security as possible prior to making the decision. K, who spent her maternity leave building her business, gives us facts that she herself learnt the hard way:

“While I’m sure anyone you ask wouldn’t ever change the fact that they had their kids, I have to say you really should consider waiting until you’re [financially] stable. Of course, Allah provides, but don’t put yourself in a precarious situation if you don’t absolutely have to. It’s okay to be selfish, and it’s okay to put your wellbeing first before you’re expected to give it to others. My kids are my world and I work within the circumstances that I’m in, but it isn’t easy, and it would’ve been a lot faster to build my business if I did it before becoming a mother. That being said, there are benefits to my circumstances too. I’m glad they’re growing up seeing me work hard for a better life for them.”

Lloyds Bank’s top tips to help you have conversations about money with your partner

1. Understand each other’s attitude to money

We all have different views on money and spending. Talk about your attitudes towards spending for the baby and where these come from. This will help to build understanding.

2. Talk through the lifestyle changes that are likely to happen

Having a baby has an impact on your normal routine. To get on the same page speak about how you think your lifestyles may need to change to accommodate a little one!

3. Take the time to create a baby budget

It’s useful to work to a budget. Sit down together at a time and work out what your money situation is. Get on the same page by accounting for everything from the baby’s expenses to maternity pay and money saved from not travelling to work. Agree on a time to regularly check in on it.

4. Don’t forget your journey to getting this far

No matter how far along, you’ve come a long way. You may have already spent some of your savings on realising your dream of having a baby so your finances could already be under strain. Share your feelings about this to avoid any worry or resentment building up.

5. Avoid storing up problems

If you know there are some particularly tricky issues to navigate, start discussing them before the baby arrives, so that you’re better prepared for the financial implications of any decisions you make. For example, consider your plans for childcare if and when you go back to work – this could be a difficult conversation if one of you wants to use free childcare from a parent and the other doesn’t. Try to be sensitive to your partner’s needs as well as your own.

6. Think about the future together

It’s exciting to think about your baby growing up and as a parent, you want to give them the best start. Talk to your partner about your views on how you might put money aside for things like driving lessons, university or a deposit on your child’s home.

Amaliah community tips for conversations on the future

“One of the conversations I wish I had with my partner prior to having my babies is finance. I wish we had talked about saving money for a baby on a regular basis. Another thing I wish we had talked about is adjusting our lifestyle to cater for the coming baby. As my firstborn was premature, I was not ready for him at all. This meant that I did not even get the chance to speak to my partner or discuss any plans before the baby arrived. I feel like these conversations should be made very early on in the pregnancy. Also everything else should be prepared in advance too, just in case the baby arrives early. And keeping your partner involved in all these preparations is the key as they are then able to support you better.” – Madeeha

I do wish we had spoken about the possibilities of having our child early as we weren’t very aware of premature births. As my child was born premature and so suddenly, we found ourselves quickly preparing the hospital bag with essentials. We had to rely on help from family and friends at first. I have no regrets and would advise couples to be honest with each other about how they are feeling about the whole process from trying for a child to after having the child. It is important to have honest conversations so they can support one another.” – Anonymous

We plan and God plans

While many of our mothers agreed that financial security can offer emotional security as well, all our candidates seem to agree that parenthood is mostly about making the best of your individual circumstances because the truth about most things, but especially about motherhood, is that almost nothing goes according to plan.

Ramla and her husband were in a good place financially when they decided to step into parenthood. They had two incomes, a maternity package and enough savings to get through maternity leave, but when Ramla became sick during her pregnancy, money got a whole lot tighter. She had to take sick leave as well as an earlier maternity leave while her husband picked up extra shifts.

While things turned out okay in the end and Ramla says there is nothing that she would change, she does say, “I wish I knew more about sick leave before pregnancy so I could plan for the possibility of being unwell during my pregnancy.” R. also mentioned that they were fortunate to receive hand-me-downs which helped with reducing the cost of the baby items.

Lloyds Bank’s Tips on Managing Childcare | Childcare options and help with benefits

It’s never too soon to begin researching nurseries or childminders in your local area, since the best providers are often booked up months in advance. If you’re working and having a baby, you can get paid time off for antenatal care, no matter how long you’ve been in your job. This is in addition to annual leave.

  • Childcare costs can eat up a large chunk of your family’s monthly budget. They can vary depending on the type of childcare you want and where you live.
  • Make a list of potential childcare venues, research their credentials, reputations and waiting lists.
  • Think about the financial implications of childcare, and work out a ballpark budget. Find out whether family members or friends might be able to assist with childcare, if only for a few hours a week. See more new baby arrival tips here.
  • Location based childcare: MoneyHelper can help you find help with childcare costs in your area
  • Free childcare: As of the publication of this article, 15 or 30 hours of free childcare or early education is currently available for all 3-4 year olds in the UK. The hours can be used at one or more of these types of registered childcare providers.
  • Finding eligibility: How much you can get depends on which country you live in. Find out more and if you’re eligible from the site.
  • Tax free childcare is a new government scheme to help working parents (including the self-employed). For every £8 you pay into your childcare account, the government will pay in £2, up to £2,000 per child per year. This is the current amount at the time of publication.
  • Other sources of financial support include free NHS prescriptions, child benefits, Universal Credit and the Sure Start Maternity Grant.

The information above is correct as of Monday 07/02/2022

Increasing income and cutting costs

While Madeeha and her husband were quite comfortable financially when they decided to have children, as a freelancer, Madeeha had to do a bit more financial planning to ensure she was covered during the leave that she took.

“If you are a freelancer, then make sure you have contributed enough in NI and worked for long enough to qualify for maternity allowance.”

Still, Madeeha also feels she got to enjoy the time with her children for as long as she wanted as she chose not to go back to her agency when her leave was over.

“When you have a baby to look after every bit of money matters.”

“Research surveys and shopping scanners. They pay you for your opinion and some of them offer cashback on shopping that you do. They also pay you in vouchers which come in quite handy for little treats. Having a baby is a big change, and as much as it’s fulfilling, it can be emotionally and physically draining at times. I found that on those drained days, what really helped was that I was able to give myself little treats using the vouchers from completing surveys. It would make me very happy. I feel like these little hacks such as vouchers are very rewarding in that they make you feel like you have achieved them for your hard work.”

Lloyds Bank top tips for financial planning

  • You may need to plan for living on a reduced income while you or your partner are on parental leave, find out early on what you’re entitled to during this time.
  • Check out online retailers and auction sites for second-hand baby items as this can be a great way to save money.
  • Having a list of things to consider financially before having your baby can really help you to stay calm and collected.
  • Set a family budget

K and her husband did not have any savings or any extra costs to cut down, instead they had to find ways to increase their income which is why K started her business. She stresses the importance of being creative with your options to earn money, especially when you have younger kids and want to stay home with them. Another thing that K emphasises is the importance of women establishing their own financial independence by having their own sources of income separate to any other shared incomes that they can dip into when the going gets tough and so that they’re not relying on anyone else to provide for them.

“It doesn’t always have to be one job, one income, and save save save. We live in a very different world where there are many ways to make money, and women really need to make sure they have their own income in the event of any struggles (divorce, death, etc.).”

Of course, cutting down on the costs of preparing for a baby’s arrival is also very important. Some ways to do this can be by deciding on a budget, making a list of essentials, buying or borrowing second hand and not buying everything at once.

The Amaliah Community’s Top Tips on Financial Planning for a Family

“Explore working options and how both of you would manage. Decide if going back to work is feasible for the family and how you both would manage at work.” – Soraya Assadar

Perhaps speaking to family, friends about gifts – create a gift list so you don’t end up with too much/things you don’t need. You need to have conversations about childcare as that’s the biggest expense you will have if you outsource it.” – Maryam Saleem

“Make your partner aware of your monthly outgoings, especially if it’s not affordable for you while you’re on maternity leave and you’ll need support. It’s so easy for him to say ‘I got you’. Talk in detail. When thinking of having kids, it’s important to be clear about all the big and small financial decisions e.g. where you can afford to live, childcare, job security, salaries etc. Basically have a plan for when the child is not in your bedroom anymore. Can you afford something bigger?” – Kulsum Ahmed 

“I think my husband and I did try to discuss how we would navigate our relationship with a whole little human who is fully dependent on us. But it can be difficult to have that conversation when you haven’t actually lived the experience yet because it’s a totally different thing when you actually experience it. So what I would advise somebody is to take it easy, be very kind to themselves, be aware that a lot of social media accounts only show highlight reels of what it’s like to have babies/children, and to make sure their relationship with their partner is stable.” – Anonymous

Everyone tells you how having a baby is so difficult, your life is never the same again. This is true but it’s also so beautiful and the love you feel just hits you differently. My husband and I talked at length about how we would handle the sleepless nights etc and although our baby wakes up every 2hrs it’s nowhere near as scary as people make it out to be. We did also discuss our parenting styles, we’ve both been brought up very differently from each other and wanted to bring the best of both worlds together.” – Anonymous

Looking ahead

Once your little one arrives into this world, there will be much to adjust to on all levels. Factoring in some of these changes and putting in a plan to how you’ll deal with them will give you a lot more headspace to navigate this new stage of your life.

Though motherhood will always throw some unexpected moments and surprises our way, one thing you can plan for from now is the financial obligations of having a child and hopefully the advice from our community and the financial tips from Lloyds Bank above have left you feeling more prepared and able to manage your financial expectations.

And remember this saying of our beloved Prophet ﷺ that will always ring true: “If you were to rely upon Allah with reliance due to Him, He would provide for you just as He provides for the birds. They go out in the morning with empty stomachs and return full.”

Amaliah Team

Amaliah Team

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