Exploring Ways You Can Save On Child Care Costs
More than almost any other bill, childcare costs can really break the bank. On average, in the United States, childcare costs add up to be $15,000 a year per child. Depending on the type of job you work, it’s almost enough to make it not even worth it, and you’d be better off being a stay-at-home parent.
However, you don’t want to pay for cheap and low-quality childcare. Your kids are the most important part of your life; you don’t want to leave them with just anyone. Read on to find out how to save money on high-quality childcare.
Before you do anything else, ask everyone you know who lives in the area for recommendations. You can ask friends, family members, coworkers, etc. Ask them about both their experiences with different facilities and their prices.
Ask them if they know any freelance babysitters or nannies, churches, schools, or in-home daycares. Make a list of every possible option within driving distance. Vet websites such as Care.com for nannies looking for work in your area.
Then, as you hear reviews from people, begin crossing off options that people you know have had negative experiences with. Don’t be afraid to look up reviews on the internet where people share their experiences, either, and use that to aid you in the vetting process.
Afterward, visit each of the centers on your remaining list (or contact the individuals). Ask them all sorts of questions about how they run their facilities, how much they charge, schedules, etc.
Again, cross off options that you don’t have a good feeling about or aren’t the right fit for you. If possible, bargain with the price; offer to trade services for a sibling or package discount, or let them know your situation. The worst they can say is no.
Create a Budget
Next, you’ll want to think about how much you’re really willing – and able – to spend on childcare services. The best place to start is by creating a budget. To do this, make a list of all your monthly income, as well as your monthly expenses. When you subtract your monthly expenses from your income, that’s how much you’ll have left to spend on daycare.
Not satisfied with the amount you have left, or really don’t have enough to afford any childcare? Then you’re going to have to make up for it somewhere. Look for ways to either decrease your expenses or increase your income if this isn’t possible.
Otherwise, get ready to ramp up your bargaining skills. Just make sure that, when agreeing to pay for childcare, your monthly expenses are not exceeding your monthly income.
Consider Opting Out
Many daycares charge extra fees for meals, field trips, preschool services, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for a breakdown of the charges and whether you can opt-out of any of them. For example, the center may charge for a meal; ask if you can provide your own meal instead.
Also, ask for package rates, such as sibling discounts or the ability to pay monthly or annually for services. Many places, especially well-known brands, will offer lower prices per sit if you purchase several days’ worth in a package.
This ends up being much cheaper than simply paying by the day. Of course, always keep an eye on your schedule. This may not be an option for people who work strange or irregular hours, if you’re unsure about the service, or if you’ll only need their services temporarily.
Consider a Job or Schedule Change
Obviously, this all depends on the type of job you work, but, if possible, ask your employer if you can work from home one day a week…or more! You may be surprised at their response.
Particularly with the increase of working from home during COVID-19, employers have been more willing to allow their employees to work from home at times, now that it’s clear it can be done.
It may seem like not many savings, but even one day, fewer childcare payments can really add up over time. After all, that’s 52 days a year, more than a month’s worth of childcare that you would have been paying.
Even better, if possible, try to switch to a job where you can work from home full-time. That will really save you money on childcare! Just make sure to be proactive at developing a successful work-life balance, though, or you may find yourself struggling to succeed at both parts of your life.
Recruit Friends and Family
Odds are, some of the best childcare may actually be closer than you think. Asking close friends, family members, church members, or coworkers for babysitting services may allow your child to have one-on-one attention for a significantly lower cost while also helping out a friend (especially if they’re a teenager, they will likely require the extra money).
They will also most likely be thrilled at the opportunity to spend time with your child.
In summary, saving money on childcare is easier than you might think. It’s one of the most expensive recurring payments that people have to make, yet it doesn’t have to be.
If you explore all your options, ask around for recommendations, create a childcare budget, attempt to bargain, look for package deals, opt-out of optional services, and ask your employer to allow you to work from home occasionally, you’re already on your way to saving a significant amount of money.
Don’t forget to always be on the lookout for other money-saving options as well; this is surely not an exhaustive list.