Saving Money on Childcare

by Guest Contributor · 5 comments

Making ends meet is more difficult than ever. For families that need childcare, the expenses can be overwhelming. Good childcare is expensive, but it’s not like bad childcare to save a few dollars is an option. Finding a solution can involve some creativity, but the good news is that it can be done.

Family Options
Clearly, the cheapest solution is to find a family member who is willing to lend a hand. Retired grandparents, if they are young enough and healthy, are a great resource. Offer to barter services like yard work or errands in return for their generosity. Other relatives, if they have young children at home, may be open to taking your children too, for a much more reasonable sum than a stranger. Best of all, I’m sure you’ll feel much safer that your children is in the hands of someone you know.

Share a Nanny
If you have a good friend with young children who is also returning to work, you might be able to share a nanny. Go through the whole interview process together; determine how much each person pays, what happens if one of you run late, and figure out transportation arrangements, etc. Put everything in writing and make sure you do a criminal check on your prospective nanny.

Arrange a Baby Sitting Cooperative
Many mothers return to the work force part-time; at least at first. If you can get three or four such women in a group, each of you can take care of the kids one day a week and work the rest of the week knowing that someone who cares is watching your child. The children benefit from a different set of toys to play with each day. The best part is that this kind of arrangement is usually free.

Tax Savings
If your employer participates in a child care flexible account, set aside the money you need for the year in advance. This way you avoid paying taxes on child care expenses. Sometimes family friendly employers have an agreement with a local day care center and their employees can get a discount for using the facility. Other such employers are also generally willing to work with you to set up a job sharing schedules or telecommuting part-time.

Revamping the Schedule
If you just can’t find a child care situation that seems reasonable and affordable, you may find yourself making a difficult choice. Working different hours means that at least one parent is home at all times with the children. This kind of arrangement is difficult for both parents, since it really cuts into a couple’s time. Fortunately, this period in your children’s lives is relatively short, and many people find relief that they are doing this for the children that they love.

Shop Around
Finally, if you can’t rearrange schedules and need to use a day care center; shop around. Some public schools offer cheap or free day care for neuro-typical kids enrolled in a Head Start program. This is a great environment and learning experience for all the kids.

The YMCA or the local church is likely to be cheaper than a private corporation, even if the curriculum may be targeted. Older kids can attend a half day pre-k or kindergarten program and then join a half day daycare program, which will halve your costs.

Finding a good environment for your children that is affordable can be challenging, but it is well worth the effort to know that your kids are safe, happy, and well cared for.

This is another series in the “How to Save Money on Everything ebook” that you can download for free. Subscribe to the free newsletter below to get access to it.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Child care cost can be outrageous especially in some of the bigger metro areas. Don’t even begin to talk about the cost of multiple children either.

    If you do live in one of those expensive metros we recommend you check out getting an Au Pair. The total cost of an Au Pair is about $8 per hour.

  • It’s amazing the child care costs in the united states. In Hong Kong, you can hire a nanny for $500/month who will do everything for you. You do have to house the nanny though.

    David, I have to imagine it’ll be really good for you guys once your daughter comes. I think being able to work from home is incredible. I really do think you have it better than those who have to work from an office.

    BTW, who is the “guest contributor”? So selfless, to remain nameless.

    • MoneyNing says:

      Part of me is happy because my hours are flexible, but the other part of me are nervous of how everything will work out since I cannot possibly work with just me and Sara in the house. As I never had any children before, the unknown is causing a bit of anxiety but I’m calming myself by saying that things always work out at the end 🙂

      The guest contributor would rather remain anonymous so I need to respect his decision.

  • Christina @ Northern Cheapskate says:

    I went back to work 5 months after my first son was born. My husband was able to work from home two days a week and my parents (who live 1/4 mile from us) took care of our son the other three days. My husband and I both had 2 months off in the summer. It worked out really well (and was free.). After I had twins, I decided to stay home, which has also been wonderful. If you can’t stay home with your kids, a loving family member is a great substitute.

    • MoneyNing says:

      It must be great that your whole family can pretty much take off for 2 months every year 🙂 I work at home, but I own a business so it’s more like 24/7 then the flexibility that everyone believes it is 🙂

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