Child care costs are one of the biggest expenses for families today. Have you ever wondered if there are ways to help with this cost? Today I’m going to give you some suggestions about how to save on childcare costs.
How To Save On Childcare Costs
Create a child care budget: Oh no, I know what you’re thinking: here comes the big ‘B’ word. Budgets are not something a lot of people like to do but they can be a huge help in looking at the big picture. Sit down and take a look at your spending. What can you cut out or where could you cut back? Once you figure this out and have a dollar amount in mind, you can start shopping around for day care centers with a realistic idea of what you can afford – you don’t want to get into debt to pay for childcare. It’s just not a sustainable strategy in the long-term.
TIP: If you are struggling financially, and already barely making rent, find out about federal and state programs, or nonprofits in your area that can connect you to HeadStart and other publicly funded child care programs. They are typically hard to get into, but if you apply early and stay on top of the deadlines and requirements, you may be able to take advantage of free or subsidized care. In some states, they offer vouchers if you qualify for their low-income program. Look into that as well.
So now that you have a budget, and you know what you can afford, you can visit only the centers that meet your criteria.
How to Find Information About Daycares In Your Area
A great site to find out about daycares in your area is Winnie. Winnie provides information on availability, prices, parent reviews, etc about centers in your area. All you have to do is plug in your zip code and they will search and bring up information. This site will definitely help you choose the best childcare for your kids.
Other Ways to Save On Childcare
- Compare the cost: As important as it is to find an excellent day care center, price is also a huge factor. In order to do this, list the tuition of each of the day cares you are researching. Next, list the pro’s and con’s of each such as location, is there a discount for having siblings attend, etc. This will help keep things in perspective. Also on this note, once you choose a day care, keep an eye on increasing prices.
- Set Up An FSA: Does your employer offer an flexible spending account? If you are not sure, ask. You can set up an FSA and set aside money for day care, preschool, etc.
- Tax Credit: If a flexible spending account is not offered at your place of employment, you can apply your child care tax credit. It allows you to itemize up to $3,000 in expenses per child per year. Once you have a list of these itemizations you can take a percentage of it and apply the tax credit. I’m not a CPA and I don’t play one on the Internet so please get some guidance on this from a real tax expert.
- Have you talked to HR at your job or your husband’s job? Some companies offer reimbursement for child care. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Some companies even have a corporate discount and all you have to do is mention that when you register. Tuition at a great child care center can range from $700 per month to $2500 per month (depending on where you live), so a discount can be a lot of money!
- Shift around your schedule: There may be a way to change your schedule to cut down on costs. Would your employer or your spouse’s employer work with you to make a flexible schedule? Figure out, “What’s in it for them?” Present it in those terms so they see a business reason for your request.
- Could you work longer hours four days a week and have one day a week off? For example, if you agree to come in one Saturday a month when your spouse is home with the kids, will your boss allow you some flexibility during the week? There is a lot of value in children being around other children, so maybe all you can afford is three days a week in a quality preschool — and that’s okay.
- Is there a possibility that you and your spouse could work out opposite shifts so there is always someone to watch your kids? This could possibly be an option too.
NOTE: As stated above, I am not a CPA or tax professional and laws regarding taxes change all the time. Therefore, if you have questions please contact a certified professional. Suggestions regarding chilcare and taxes in this article are for eductional/informational purposes only.
As you can see, there are various options to save on child care. This makes it easier to give your child the best care and give your wallet a rest.