Childcare costs are one of the largest expenses a family with children will face. This is especially true for single parents or for families where both parents work full time. Finding ways to save money on childcare costs without sacrificing your child’s care is a top priority for all working parents. Here are some tips for saving money on childcare costs:
- See if your public-school district offers a pre-kindergarten program for 3 or 4-year-old. Some districts offer this, and it is usually free. These are typically half day programs that could cover half of the daily daycare needs for your child.
- Explore other public and charitable options. You should also investigate care provided by your local YMCA, JCC or churches. While each program varies, childcare provided by non-profit entities like these are generally less expensive.
- Seek Employer Discounts. Some companies negotiate discounts with local childcare centers. Find out if your company offers any. If they don’t, take the time to suggest they consider it. Contact your HR manager and explain the benefits. It can’t hurt!
- Adjust your work schedule. While this option may not be available or realistic for some people, these days, employers seem to be more open to flexible work hours (especially with so many employees working remotely due to the pandemic).
- Explore Tax Leverages. Uncle Sam might pick up some of your childcare tab with a tax credit for children and dependents. Paid with after-tax dollars, and subject to income eligibility requirements, the tax credit may allow you to claim up to 35% of your childcare payments to a maximum of $3000 per child or $6000 for more than one child.
- Barter for Care. You can offer to perform a service for the individual or company that is caring for your child. For example, if you are an accountant, you could review the day care’s tax situation. Babysitting co-ops are a form of bartering and are easy to setup. See if you can offer to exchange babysitting services with friends, family, or co-workers. This can be particularly helpful when you swap with kids that are close in age to your own, as you are earning free babysitting services as well as built in play dates. Win-win!
- Talk to other parents who are in the same boat. See if you can consolidate your childcare needs, and save money, by joining forces. Nanny shares are a great way to reduce childcare costs. Hiring one babysitter to watch multiple children significantly lowers the hourly cost of care, and many independent childcare providers are experienced in handling more than one child. Depending on how many people contribute to the share, these situations can often cost less than conventional daycare.
- Hire a responsible college student. Young people in school are usually eager to work and typically have time during the day to babysit. This option is usually cheaper and allows the child to be cared for at home, which cuts travel time and cost (no drop-off or pick up!).
- Contact local elementary schools for tutors and retired schoolteachers who might be interested in pre-school, summer, and/or after-school childcare to help supplement their income.
Exploring these options is key when creating a childcare plan that works for your family. It is possible to combine some of these to create a powerhouse of childcare savings. We will continue to post related savings tips for families. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below. Happy care hunting!