Congrats if you're expecting! Things are about to change in a major way, especially if you are a first-time parent. And if you are employed, you will most likely be looking into maternity or paternity leave once the baby arrives. Bonding time, recuperation, feedings, diaper duty, and so on will fill your days and keep you up at night. But before you plan your leave, there are some things you should know. Let's delve in to five parental leave concerns so you are well-prepared and squared away leaving you better able to concentrate on your newest family member.
And baby makes three...unsplash.com
You Probably Won't Get Paid
Some people are lucky to work for a company that pays them while they are out on parental leave, but this isn't the norm. According to Fairygodboss, "American women working in the U.S. who take leave are not guaranteed any benefit payments from the federal government. In fact, most receive no pay during their leave and instead rely on federal parental leave law (Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA) to protect their job for up to 12 weeks."
That said, everything is usually up for discussion. Parents suggests, "You may have to negotiate your way to a plan you and your employer can both agree on that will allow you the time off you need to physically and emotionally be ready to return to work without putting your family under financial strain."
Another option? Nolo recommends exercising your "right to use your accrued vacation or sick pay during your FMLA leave, as long as you meet the other requirements of your employer's policies."
It's Not Just for Women Who Have Recently Given Birth
When we think of taking time off for a new baby, for the most part, new moms come to mind first. But mothers and fathers reserve the right to partake in FMLA, as "family" is what this act is all about. Real Simple points out, "You don't have to be pregnant to qualify either: this applies to both mothers and fathers and can be used for those who are adopting or must take care for a sick relative."
Fairygodboss adds, "Parents – both men and women – are eligible for this leave within one year of welcoming a new child."
Times have changed over the decades, and families are created and function in all sorts of ways today. Naturally, a woman who recently gave birth has additional challenges, but caring for an infant takes lots of work, something all new parents will face – FMLA making it possible for either parent (or both) to partake in.
You Can Stagger Your Leave
The 12 weeks you are entitled to doesn't have to be used up in one stretch. You can take these weeks throughout the 12-month period you work out with your employer. According to The Bump, "If you have pregnancy complications, you might want or need to take some time off before baby arrives. The rest can be taken anytime over the 12-month period."
Real Simple adds, "You can take intermittent leave in which you leave for a while, return, and then take more leave. You can even work part-time until you've taken the equivalent of 12 weeks off."
Staggering your leave can be useful by "trading off" with your partner if they can take leave too. You'll also be back and forth at work, so you can stay in the loop and on top of projects without being absent for huge chunks of time.
You are Not Necessarily Entitled to Leave
But what about FMLA? See, that all depends on how long you have been employed at your current job and how many people work for the company. Too little time put in at a company means they aren't obligated to give you leave. As Real Simple explains, "Your employer doesn't have to give you family leave if you've worked at the company for under a year, or if you've worked fewer than 1,250 hours during that year. A company is also exempt if it has fewer than 50 employees."
Before you regret working for that small start-up, note, "You may still be entitled to a leave, albeit a shorter one, under the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. That law, which covers companies with 15 or more workers, requires employers to treat pregnant employees the same as any other disabled worker," as per Parents.
You'll Need to Get Yourself Ready for Return
After up to 12 weeks away from work, you're going to be more skilled at parenting, but a bit rusty when it comes to work. You've been busy with baby but the "show must go on," and your co-workers have been at it in your absence. To pick up where you left off, you'll need to prepare yourself for the challenge.
The founder of AaronB Fitness, an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer for over 17 years has important advice. "You should realize that gearing up mentally and physically to return to the office after a long stay at home with the baby is challenging. But you can prepare for it. You've probably lined up help to look after the baby once you return to the office. Take advantage of that a week or two sooner to allow you to get some physical activity back into your routine, such as a morning walk or jog, or a class at the gym. And try to get on a regular bedtime/wake-time schedule that will match your schedule when you're back to work. Do those two things ahead of time and you'll hit the ground running when you return to the office."
Welcome to the world!unsplash.com
Your leave will give you those much-needed initial weeks with your new child. Learn what your company's policies are, what you are able to manage for your family, and how you will transition during this process. Welcome to the family!
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.