One of the biggest factors that contribute to the prohibitive cost of raising kids is childcare.
In some states, it is more expensive to have an infant in daycare than to send your adult child to college.
According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the average cost of center-based daycare in the United States is $11,666 per year ($972 a month), but prices range from $3,582 to $18,773 a year ($300 to $1,564 monthly).
What’s even more disheartening is that child care often exceeds the cost of housing, college tuition, transportation and food for many family budgets.
Even with a two-parent working household, child care costs can be prohibitive.
If you’re struggling to find a way to make it work, here are five very real ways to save on childcare.
1. Nanny Share
Often the cost of a nanny can be overwhelming, but you can’t help but love the flexibility and special care your child will receive with one-on-one care.
Well, what about one-on-two care? Consider going into a nanny share with another family. You can split the cost and save a lot of money and your child still gets specialized care.
2. Trade With a Friend
Consider starting your own daycare chain—chain of moms, that is. Through several Facebook mom groups in my area, I’ve made friends with moms who have children a similar age to my son.
If you become friends with a few of them, you can swap care back and forth. This works best if you have different work schedules.The average cost of child care in the US is $11,666/year. Here are 5 ways to save on the cost Click To Tweet
3. Daycare Co-op
A daycare or preschool co-op is one where parents take on a much greater burden of the care responsibilities. Parents must volunteer a few shifts to take on certain roles, such as after-school pickup watch or helping to maintain the facility.
The benefit, of course, is that the cost is significantly cheaper. Preschool in our area easily runs $800 a month. A preschool co-op ranges from $100 to $300 a month.
Many schools will also allow grandparents or another caretaker to do the volunteer work if both parents are working. Google your city and preschool or daycare co-op to see if there are any in your area.
4. Dependent Care Account
Many employers offer their employees a Dependent Care flexible spending account, where you can set aside pre-tax money to help pay for childcare expenses.
These accounts help you save, on average, 30% on eligible expenses like preschool, summer camp, after school programs, and of course, daycare! Check with your employer to see if they offer this benefit, or check the tax laws in your state.
5. In-Home Daycare
If you have no flexibility in your work schedule and you need a traditional care environment, always consider an in-home daycare option, which are considerably cheaper than daycare centers.
Of course, you always want to make sure that you do your research and find the best environment that works for both you and your child.
Leaving your child in daycare is not easy for most parents. But cost should never be a factor in determining the level of care your child receives. By using some creative solutions, you can find a situation you—and your pocketbook—can both be happy with.
How do you save money on childcare costs? Or do you cut other expenses to make room for it in your budget?