Real Talk: I Crowdfunded My Maternity Leave

pregnant woman

For American women, the unfortunate fact is that maternity leave isn’t a given. The news is dismal: Only 12 percent of Americans have access to paid parental leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and paid parental leave policies are set on a company-by-company basis. This is just one reason women are crowdfunding their maternity leaves. Meet Kim Husted, a woman who did just that.

Advertisement

Like many moms, Husted, 30, a box office manager in Riverside, California, works for a company that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave. Her husband, who works as a theater technician, was able to take four weeks off through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and he was also required to use accrued sick or vacation time to cover the time off. Together they cobbled together a way to take some time off when their baby arrived, but it wasn’t enough -- so she decided to crowdfund her maternity leave.

Here is her story, as told to Lambeth Hochwald, for The Stir:

As I was getting closer to having my baby several months ago, I decided to take 12 weeks Family and Medical Leave (FMLA). I utilized paid sick and vacation leave to cover as much of it as possible, but this only covered about eight weeks for me, so I took the remainder as unpaid leave. That left a month of pay that I needed to find through other sources.

More from The Stir: Real Talk: My Husband's Paternity Leave Showed Me What a Game-Changer It Could Be for Every Family

In the months leading up to my daughter's birth, we saved for medical and living expenses during my maternity leave, but were continually concerned about losing a month of my pay during a time when our expenses were likely to increase -- babies can cost a lot!

And then I started thinking about the many friends who had a Honeyfund option for their wedding registry (the site helps couples pay for their honeymoons). I then began wondering if I could do something similar for my maternity leave. I know many people like to give cash nowadays for new-baby gifts, so I thought this would be a good option for those who were interested in giving cash to help out.

I decided to use Plumfund to crowdsource my maternity leave. I received $350 through the site, which didn’t end up covering everything we needed, but I still found that extra money to be very helpful during my leave. (I do wonder if I would have received more if I had been more specific, as in "$50 toward groceries or meals during our first month with baby.")

Luckily, we’re frugal, and we have found ways to cut costs. For example, we use cloth diapers (we have only spent $250 on diapers so far and my daughter is over 6 months old). We buy much of my daughter's clothes and toys on consignment. We buy in bulk for household items when possible, cook at home, and have cut expenses on extras.

I'm constantly looking for ways to save. I know many families find themselves doing the same thing when they have a new addition. It’s a shame that new parents need to add the cost of a maternity leave to their list of worries and expenses, but due to saving in advance, frugal spending, and allowing a place for people to provide monetary gifts (through Plumfund), we made the best of my maternity leave from a financial perspective. 

More from The Stir: My Twins Are 4 Months Old ... but I Don't Feel Like a 'Mom' Yet

My biggest tip to others is that if you want to crowdfund your maternity leave, and it's important to you that you receive the majority of your gifts that way, I’d suggest making that your only registry. We did two registries -- one for baby items and our Plumfund. I think people like to buy cute baby items, so it can be hard to raise money for a maternity leave, too.

If crowdfunding is the only way that someone can afford maternity leave, buying baby items on consignment and asking for gifts in the way of funds for maternity leave instead would be the way to go.

Though I was worried people would think my Plumfund was asking for too much, when I asked people's advice before setting it up, most thought it would be a good idea and said they’d rather put money toward that than many of the other things being crowdfunded nowadays. I'm really glad I did it.

 

Lambeth Hochwald is a New York City–based journalist who covers celebrities, lifestyle stories, and trends.


Image via iStock.com / FrancescoCorticchia

Read More >