Raising children can be expensive. One of the biggest expenses is quality childcare. You want to find someone whom you trust to take good care of your children while you are at work during the day, but the cost of such reassurance can be criminal. Commercial daycare providers can cost over $1,000 a month for an infant – more, depending on where you live.
Fortunately, there are many ways that you can lower the cost of daycare without compromising on the quality of care. Here are a few ideas for how you can save money on childcare:
Choose a Home Daycare
Many stay-at-home mothers, retired teachers and others operate daycares out of their home as a way to make extra income while also enjoying spending time with children. These home daycares are licensed through the state, ensuring there is quality of care and safety standards are met.
Home daycare providers are often much less expensive than commercial daycare providers, sometimes by as much as half. They are also typically more flexible and offer your child more individualized attention.
Get an Employer Subsidy
Many companies recognize the value of supporting a good childcare arrangement for their employees so that they can be focused on work during the day and be absent less often. If your company doesn’t already offer one, ask about the possibility of getting a subsidy for childcare costs.
You may be surprised at what your employer is willing to work out with you – especially if the arrangement would benefit other employees, as well. The cost to your employer of supporting a stable childcare arrangement might be less in the long term than the cost of employees missing days from work or becoming less productive when they are working.
Create a Flex Schedule
If your employer isn’t willing to offer you a subsidy, a flex schedule might be a possibility. You could negotiate with your employer to work:
- Flex time – working your hours at any time during the week, with different starting and ending times
- Part time
- Condensed work week
Any of these options could make it possible for you to stay home more hours – or to alternate time at home with your partner – so that you can spend less on child care.
Join a Co-Op
Babysitting co-ops offer parents free childcare in exchange for “sweat equity.” In other words, you put in the time watching other children so that other parents in the co-op watch your children. You don’t have to put in the hours that you take out necessarily. The time you have to commit will depend on how many people are included in your agreement.
If you don’t want to join a formal co-op arrangement – or you don’t have one in your community – you can work out the same informal arrangement with a friend or group of friends. Maybe your friend will watch your child during the day while you watch hers at night.
Use an FSA
A flexible spending account is a tax-deductible account that can be used for dependent childcare expenses. You make contributions toward the account that are deducted from your pay before taxes. You then apply for reimbursement of childcare expenses through the account.
Since the deductions are made before taxes, you end up saving a lot over the course of year in taxes that would have paid. Depending on how much you deduct, you could save several hundred dollars over the course of the year.
There are many ways to save money on childcare if you are creative and enterprising. You can even talk to your childcare provider about a discount for pre-payment, paying for long periods at a time, or referring other children. Explore all the options available to you and you can save a significant amount on quality childcare.
About the author: Dana Vicktor is the senior researcher and writer for duedatecalculator.org. Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in communications and sociology. Her current focus for the site involves studying umbilical cords and being 17 weeks pregnant.
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