Next to rent or mortgage payments, childcare often ranks as the second-highest expenditure in a household budget. But a little inventive planning can save you money without compromising the quality of care. Consider these helpful hints.
If you have a young child:
- Consider sharing childcare with a close friend, neighbor, relative or coworker. You can save money by sharing the costs of a babysitter or nanny. Be sure to plan well and meet with everyone before the first day of childcare to make sure instructions and expectations are clear.
- See if you qualify for childcare subsidies and programs at local, state, and federal government levels. Depending on your income, you may be eligible.
- Church-operated daycare centers and schools often offer financial assistance.
- Many employers offer flexible spending accounts. FSA accounts allow you to set aside pretax dollars to pay for licensed dependent care services. Be sure to check with your employer for this benefit.
- Ask your employer about flexible scheduling. And if work schedules allow, share childcare responsibilities with your spouse or partner, alleviating the need for expensive outside daycare.
- Talk to your employer about setting up a childcare program at work.
- You can open a licensed daycare facility in your home until your child reaches school age. Be sure to abide by all rules and regulations in your community and state and if you rent your home, check with your landlord before setting up a daycare facility.
- When your child reaches school age, some public schools offer after-school care programs. Check with your child’s school officials to see what options are available.
- Organize a babysitting co-op or playgroup with other parents whose children are close in age to your child. Swapping childcare is one of the most cost-effective ways to free up time for yourself while your youngster can enjoy playtime with friends.
Juggling the daily demands of work, home, and family while keeping your finances in focus, can be a challenge. Explore community programs and ways to share costs by reaching out to friends and trusted neighbors in similar situations. Cost effective childcare may mean a happier solution for you, your child and your piggy bank. Give it a try!