5 Ways to Save on Childcare Costs
Any working parent will tell you that childcare is expensive. But even they might not realize the true cost. A recent study by Child Care Aware revealed that in 31 states, the annual cost of childcare for a child under 15 actually exceeds the cost of yearly in-state tuition and fees at the states’ public colleges . So while planning for a child’s future education is certainly important, you’re probably more concerned with saving in the here and now.
Here are five ways you can start to save on childcare costs:
Explore All Your Options
The highest priced care isn’t necessarily the best. With national chains, the cost of branding and marketing is factored into the price, so you may find that a locally owned, independent childcare center offers more personalized service for less. Also look into options offered by local churches (you don’t always have to be a member to use their services) and day care centers run out of private homes. Be sure whichever option you choose is licensed by your state.
Adjust Your Schedule
Do you really have to be present at your job five days a week to get work done? Ask your employer to allow you to try working from home one day a week. It might not seem like much, but over time the money you’ll save by not using childcare one day a week will really add up. Just be sure you’ll have the self-discipline and quiet time needed to actually get work done, or the plan could backfire.
Consider a Nanny Share
While hiring a full-time nanny might not be in the budget, it becomes much more accessible if you share the cost with one or more other families. Sharing a full- or part-time nanny is a great solution if you have like-minded friends or family with children around the same ages as yours. A nanny share offers the socialization benefits of day care with the scheduling flexibility and one-on-one attention of in-home care.
Don’t Forget the Child Care Tax Credit
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit allows you to itemize up to $3,000 per child, per year, with a $6,000 cap per family. Keep in mind the expenses must be related to allowing you to work, so it doesn’t cover costs for leisure-time babysitting or sleep-away camp; day camp costs may qualify, however. The IRS has put together this list of 10 things you need to know about utilizing the Child Care Tax Credit.
Think Outside the Day Care
If you have children in elementary school, you may just need child care coverage for a few hours before and/or after school. Before you commit to using a pricey day care to fill the gaps, look into whether your child’s school district offers before- and after-school programs. Many local parks departments offer similar services. Another option is to find a responsible teen for in-home babysitting until you get home from work. Your kids will be able to get home much sooner to start on homework or chores and you’ll get to come straight home from work.