No Pay, No Problem
Many paternity leave takers need to offset some, if not all, of their decrease in salary while off with the family. This can be challenging, but is not impossible.
Ideally you have a few months to build up your savings, but if you left it until the last minute there are still some adjustments that can help. We are going to focus on getting the most bang for your buck in a hurry here. You don’t have time to wait for those LED light bulbs to pay off.
Ways to Save for Paternity Leave
Credit Card Rewards, QUICK
This is only to be used if you are financially disciplined, do not currently carry credit card debt, and have a FICO over 760. You can check your FICO through most credit card websites for free.
Total Benefit = $600+
How to do it
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card runs a sign up promotion, giving away 50,000 points (cash value = $500) for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, earning 1+ point for each dollar (cash value = $40+). By adding an authorized user, who does nothing more than activate the card you generate another 5,000 points (cash value = $50).
Pay off the balance immediately each month and cancel the card within the first year to avoid the annual fee, which is waived for 12 months. Then simply redeem the points to cover the cost of groceries etc. For a detailed explanation check out The Points Guy
Note: If you can’t spend $4,000 in 3 months to earn the $500, consider purchasing gift cards. This must be done carefully as they technically do not qualify. To avoid this, purchase in odd amounts from different stores and always add in a pack of gum or other small purchase. For example, go to Lowes and buy 3 – $200 Visa gift cards and a light bulb. Only do this if you can pay it off in full before incurring interest.
While this card is marketed for travel – and you do get a higher value when redeeming for flights or hotels – we are after cash to fund paternity leave. Therefore stick to the plan and net $600+ in 3 months.
Note: I do not receive any kickbacks for recommending this. In fact, I doubt Chase would be very pleased that I am telling you how to game their product.
This is an easy one if you haven’t done it already. There are two options here – 1) Negotiate a better rate on existing service and 2) Negotiate a better rate on a downgrade. I recently did this myself and saved over $100 a month.
Benefit = $100/month
How to do it
Start by calling your cable company, but don’t sit through the automated menu or press 0. We are targeting a specific sales rep here; the retention specialist. They have the most tools and offers to keep you from cancelling. Indicate that you are having a kid and can’t afford the high payments (build empathy). Therefore you are considering cancelling all together or switching to take a competitor promotional rate until you can adjust to the new expenses in your life. 99% of the time this will result in an immediate savings, but don’t stop there.
Note: If they call your bluff, simply say you are having trouble hearing, hang up and call again to try your luck with a different rep.
If a negotiated rate isn’t enough or if you are really interested in optimizing your expenses, downgrade your service (this is how I went from $185/mo to $82/mo without noticing). Ask for the local cable only package, limit internet speed to 75mbps, and return all but 1 cable box. If you require a DVR stick to the lowest sized DVR as these too are price tiered. This is the most basic package you can buy, but still gives you plenty to choose from. To round out your TV experience, purchase Netflix and share the subscription with a friend or relative (cost per household = $5). To get this loaded onto every single TV in your house simply purchase an Amazon fire stick for $40 (no prime membership required) and download the Netflix app.
The only substantial loss in this deal for me was losing HBO. To get around if you can either piggyback on someone else’s subscription, again logging in through your firestick or you can purchase it as a cable ‘add-on’ for a single season (cost = $15/mo). This allows you to time your HBO subscription to match the show you just can’t miss and allows you to catch up on everything else throughout the year on demand. To offset the cost, rent out your subscription to friends for $5/mo.
If you are paying for lawn care, stop. Seriously, stop. A lawnmower that will last you 8 years costs $200, comes with oil straight out of the box, and is simple to operate. If you currently pay $25 per mow, this pays for itself in 2 months or less.
Benefit = $500 / year
Turns out rent is negotiable a lot of the time. Finding good tenants is difficult and costly both in money and time. Use the emotional appeal of your pending arrival to score some empathy points and offer to sign a lease extension right now if you can agree on a reduced rate. The worst than can happen is a polite ‘No’.
Benefit = $0 – $300
Sell Your Stuff
We live in the age of consumption, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Clear out your unwanted stuff and get paid. Use eBay & craigslist for more expensive items due to the increased traffic. For jewelry, precious metals, and coins, find a local dealer and check the price first. Read this if you need inspiration.
Benefit = $200+
Get a Short Term Side Hustle
Signing up is easy these days and you can generate cash before the baby comes as an Uber Driver or a TaskRabbit. Just remember, this is intended to fund your leave, not take you away from it. Quit 2 weeks prior to delivery date.
Benefit = $300+
Stop Buying Stuff
This is the absolute best way to save all the time. You do not need a diaper genie, it is a bunch of plastic that literally aggregates s#*!. That is very silly on many fronts. Step back, analyze what you actually need and then buy even less.
How to do it
Remember that being with your family is more important than owning 24 gadgets that solve problems you don’t actually have. Marketers get paid to sell you things you don’t need by playing on your fears. F*** them. But on your big boy pants and learn how to say no to temptation. You can always go to the store and buy anything you need after the baby is here because you will be around.
There you have it, some quick and simple ways to offset your lost income during paternity leave. Knock these out before the baby arrives and keep the ship afloat. Don’t forget to check and see if your state offers benefits while you are on leave.