Having a baby is just part of the challenge; paying for daycare is another. For families with children under the age of four, child care costs are a big, financial burden. Parents in the United States are spending an average of $18,000 a year for full-time daycare; that’s about $350 a week.
In some cities, daycare costs rival college tuition. Having two kids in daycare is more costly than rent. But since it’s a necessity for parents with young children, couples need to find ways to defray their costs.
There are a few ways of trimming this considerable expense. Here are 8 ways you can provide care for your children while saving money.
8 Become a Stay-at-Home Parent
Child care has become the biggest household expense for families. The cost of daycare has doubled since the 1980s. With this increasing expense, couples are forced to calculate whether it is cost-effective for one person to stay at home. When they do the math, many parents are finding they are essentially working to pay for daycare.
Staying at home can reduce your budget, especially if you have more than one child. Also, daycare for children under the age of four is much more expensive than for school-aged kids.
Although your budget will be reduced, so will your income. Still, parents who have made the change claim that staying at home is worth it. And the benefits are not solely financial.
The biggest advantage of being a stay-at-home parent is that you will spend significantly more time with your child. Those precious moments are priceless. Also, moms and dads love the idea of homeschooling their children at such an impressionable age.
Of course, parents have benefits, too. Staying-at-home isn’t all fun and games, but it does allow you to work from the comforts of your home.
7 Shop Around for Daycares
When it comes to daycare, the top priority for most parents is finding a place they feel comfortable leaving their child. While this is a great reason to select a child care center, the rates of the facility are an important aspect, too.
Daycares are usually more expensive in major cities. This is why many families opt for centers that are located in the suburbs. If you can find a more affordable daycare but it’s farther from home, you’ll need to consider if the drive and the price of gas are worth changing child care centers.
Shop around for a daycare that not only fits your budget but also your schedule and your needs. But if you can chisel away at the cost while checking the other boxes, it’s an added bonus that will save a fair amount of money.
6 Enlist Family and Friends
If you're fortunate enough to live close to your parents, in-laws, aunts, or uncles, ask if they would watch your child for two days a week. Even if they can only offer one day a week, it becomes good savings each month.
These arrangements, where older generations offer caregiving services, are becoming more common. Parents benefit from cutting their daycare costs. Plus, grandparents and other relatives are happy to accept below market rates just to spend some time with their family.
Start by asking friends and family members who are available if they would be interested in babysitting your child. Offer half the rate you would normally pay for traditional daycare. This may be an ideal arrangement for an unemployed friend. You never know until you ask.
5 Organize a Babysitting Co-op
A babysitting co-op, also known as a “Parent Share,” is a group of about six families who babysit for each other. One day, you babysit all of the children. On another day, someone else does it. Essentially, you and five other families watch each others kids on a rotating basis. If schedules allow, this arrangement has several benefits.
One advantage of a babysitting co-op is that there is no financial cost. Because no money changes hands, it eliminates the amount you’re spending in daycare. The only investment required is time. The program uses a point system where you can earn points to keep track of the caregiving hours you provide.
Another benefit of this system is that your child has a regular playmate. Also, because there are so many families involved, you receive reliable, worry-free daycare.
Among the group, discuss how you will keep track of the time put into caregiving. Some people use a point system while others keep track of the hours. You could also split it up into days. Since it’s a collective system, you and the group will decide what is best for everyone.
4 Adjust Your Work Schedule
Organizations are aware that some of their employees who have children are faced with burdens dealing with daycare. Don’t be afraid to ask your HR department about flexible time that accommodates childcare.
Your employer may let you adjust your work schedule to accommodate. If this is the case, you and your partner can plan daycare in terms of shifts. One person could work 7-3 while the other works 10-6. In this situation, you wouldn’t need as many daycare hours per day.
You can also divide your schedules into days. One person can work Monday to Friday while the other can work Wednesday to Sunday. You could also consider working a night shift to eliminate paying for daycare altogether.
This arrangement can be challenging on your relationship. You and your partner need to consider which is more important: saving money on daycare or spending more time together.
Also, take advantage of on-site daycare if it is offered by your company. Usually, these caregiving services are significantly more affordable than community daycares. Plus, having your child nearby can offer peace of mind.
3 Hire a Nanny Share
Hiring a nanny can be expensive if you only have one child. This is why many families team up to hire one nanny for multiple children. A Nanny Share can cut costs right down the middle.
Ask other parents with children if they would be interested in getting together to share child care. For the arrangement to be ideal, both families need to have similar views on screen time, food choices, discipline, and homework.
It’s a good idea to go into this arrangement with a family you know very well or complications may occur. For instance, if the other family suddenly decides they no longer need a nanny, you could be stuck footing the entire bill.
Once you’ve decided a nanny-share is right for you, calculate how much each family will pay every month. Don’t forget to factor in extra costs, such as bonuses and annual raises.
2 Start a Daycare Business
For many people, working from home is ideal. Parents who work from home can save money on daycare, transportation, and a number of other expenses that are incurred when you work outside of the home. If you are looking for a new career, consider a home daycare business.
This new business would allow you to spend time with your children on a full-time basis. Not only would a daycare in your home save on childcare costs for your own kids, but you would earn a significant income for providing caregiving services to other families.
Your home may not offer the amenities of a traditional daycare, but other families will be more impressed if they can save a significant chunk of cash. However, parents also want to know that their children are safe while they are away. This job requires a great deal of responsibility and a commitment.
The first step is to find out what licenses you need to run a home-based daycare. You will also need to register your business, and go through health, safety, and caregiver training.
1 Hire a Teenager
Many parents don’t need to completely overhaul their lives to accommodate daycare. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of juggling hours here and there. Hiring a teenager is a good way to fill in the daycare gaps.
If your child finishes school at 3 pm but you don’t finish work until 6 pm, you can hire a teenager to pick up your child after school. For a few hours, a teenager babysitter can make your child a snack, and even help an older child with homework.
Naturally, a teenager will save a few hours a day on expensive daycare. But saving money isn’t always the bottom line. Make sure you choose a teenager who is dependable and kind.
While saving money is crucial for many families, a nurturing environment is what we all wish for our kids. Finding a good, affordable daycare is not always easy. But, with so many options for child care, you should be able to find what is right for you and your family.