11 Tips To Saving on Childcare Costs
- Create A Budget
The first step to saving on childcare costs is to create a budget. Your budget should include how much you are allotted to spend on childcare, how much you are actually spending, and where you are looking to cut back. Once you are aware of your budget, taking a date night or two will not make you feel so guilty.
- Compare Costs
While it may be true that your number one concern when choosing a daycare is how well they will take care of your precious child and how comfortable they make your family feel, cost is still a very important factor. Do not lose sight of price when visiting childcare establishments around your city. In order to keep your eyes on the prize, create a list of the childcare facilities you like as you visit them with the price in bold next to each title. This way when you go back later to choose the right daycare for your child you are immediately aware of the costs and can make a better informed decision with all of the details laid out in front of you.
- Check out Babysitting Cooperatives
Babysitting Cooperatives are a great way to cut down on childcare costs without sacrificing safety. Babysitting Cooperatives consist of trusting families who take turns watching each other's children. As they watch one another children they gain crediting hours to use for themselves later and visa versa. If your neighborhood does not currently have a set co-op then start one yourself! All you need to do is invite other families to join in from school, church, or the local daycare center. Begin with a meet and greet party or playdate to the playground in order to get to know the other adults and their parenting styles. Keep track of your co-ops time schedule with new applications like Sit4Sit, Baby Sitting Co-op, or Times Free.
What if you have discovered the daycare of your dreams but you can not afford the tuition? Try to barter with the director instead of giving up right away. Inquire if you can work off some of the costs by part time assisting, accounting, or even fundraising. There is sure to be somewhere you can help out even if it is filing loose papers or calling parents on the waitlist - you will never know until you ask and you honestly have nothing to lose.
- Ask a Family Member
Family members who live locally are a great way to obtain cheap or even free childcare. All you need to do is ask and offer to pay for gas and other expenses. It is highly unlikely for a grandmother to turn down watching their beloved grandchildren for a below market rate. On the other hand, if you do not have any local family members then consider letting your child visit those distant relatives for a week or two in the summer. The time away will allow you to catch up on daily duties at no extra charge.
- Ask a Neighbor
You would be surprised at how many young adolescent adults adore spending time playing with youngsters. If you are lucky enough to have one of these fine citizens located in your neighborhood then ask them to stop by and watch your child for a few hours as you get some work done in another room. Not to mention, these tweens typically charge less - between $7 - $13 dollars. Just be sure to never leave your children totally alone with these young adults as they are still growing up themselves.
- Try an Au Pair
Au Pairs are a great option for those with a spare bedroom available for use. Hosting an Au Pair is much cheaper than hiring a nanny but keep in mind you do need to provide housing and they are only able to work up to 45 hours a week legally. Au Pairs range from teenage girls to young mature women who are just looking for a chance to live in a new place and learn about the culture of the world.
- Use Childcare Tax Credit
Every working parent should be taking advantage of the federal tax credit on child care expenses. You are legally allowed to write off 35% of your childcare costs at a $3,000 dollar cap per child. Or inquire with your current employer about a dependent care flexible spending account. The tax benefits are much higher when you file with a flexible spending account from an employer then filling completely independently.
- Check out Charities
It is not entirely uncommon for state governments to offer publicly funded programs for students anywhere between pre-k to highschool. A lot of these programs take place after school which has the ability to cut your private childcare costs in half. Look into your local churches, kids clubs, or YMCA.
- Adjust Your Schedule
Try to maintain a schedule that allows you to work while your children are in school. Or try splitting shifts with your spouse in order for one of you to be home with the kids at all times. Creating a schedule that works around your child's schooling and afterschool activities can eliminate the cost of private childcare altogether.
- Work From Home
Working from home is a sure fire way to cut down on daycare expenses. Try to work from home at least one day a week and see how much money you are able to save. If you can not watch your children and work at the same time - hire a nanny to come for a few hours each day while you work. Not only will you save money on gas, but you will also be able to shorten the hours you have your children under private care. No matter which way you slice the cake, working from home will lower your childcare costs immensely.