A woman and her mother wearing brightly coloured clothes and laughing.
Read (2 minutes)

What will taking time off work mean for your bank balance?

At some point in your life you or your partner might decide to take a break from working. Whether it’s to go back to study, to have kids, or to care for an elderly relative, it will probably mean a big change financially.

Planning for change

You and your partner will need to figure out how to manage your money while you’re not working. Try to have an open discussion about how you will balance the finances and other responsibilities. For strategies on how to approach this check out our tips on talking to your partner about money.

Think about what this new arrangement will look like, will you work part-time or not at all? What about your partner, will they be working full-time? How will you share responsibility for household work?

You’ll also need to consider any extra costs you might have, like textbooks if you’re studying. Have a discussion with your partner about your financial goals, have they changed? You will probably need to create a new budget as well, that takes into account your change in income and any new expenses.

Having kids

Deciding to have a baby is super exciting, and there will be a lot of changes to your life during pregnancy and once the baby is born. While it might feel like there are more pressing issues, talking about how you’ll manage your money before and when the baby is born is really important.

New expenses

There are a whole bunch of different costs to think about during pregnancy, like extra doctor visits and medical care, maternity clothes, baby clothes and furniture. You might also want to put some savings aside as a safety net once the baby is born. Try buying second-hand to save money on big purchases like cots and prams. Check out Money Smart for more planning and saving tips.

Once the baby is born

You’ll also need to figure out how things are going to work after the baby is born. Are you going to be the primary caregiver, or is it going to be your partner? Are you going to stop working completely or will you go back to work when you’re ready?

These are pretty big decisions and you shouldn’t assume that you know what your partner wants and that they will automatically know what you want. Being clear with each other will help you figure out what works best for you.

Being clear with each other will help you figure out what works best for you.

You’ll need to factor in things like how much each of you earn, how much you have in savings, how much debt you have and how much child care will cost.

Caring for others

Caring for a relative or friend can be really tough, especially when you’re trying to balance caring with paid work. You might need to adjust your working hours or take some time off.

Talk to your employer about the kind of flexible working conditions they can offer you, and how much carer’s leave you’re entitled to. You may also be entitled to government benefits like the Carer’s Allowance, you can find out more on the Department of Human Services website.

If there is a significant change in your income, you might need to rethink your budget and financial goals.

Financial hardship

If you’re having trouble paying your bills or loans, you can call your utility provider or bank to ask about financial hardship assistance. They usually have financial hardship assistance programs that can take the pressure off you financially.

Superannuation

If you do take a break from working you’ll need to think about how that will affect your super. The fact that women still do the majority of caring work in Australia is one of the biggest contributing factors to women ending up with less super than men. (You can find out more about money and gender inequality here.)

If it’s possible, you can make your own contributions to your super and make sure you don’t end up worse off when you retire. You can find out more about superannuation on Money Smart’s website.

Quiz

Have you thought about how taking a break from work will affect your super?

  • 12 0 Yes and I have a plan
  • 20 0 Yes, but I'm not sure what to do about it
  • 25 0 No, I hadn't even considered it

Note:

Having a plan to boost your super while you’re not working is really important, check out Money Smart’s tips on increasing your super balance.

Next topic:

Retiring