Childcare is one of the most expensive costs that most dual income families and single parents face. Parents need to feel comfortable when leaving their children for the day but making good childcare choices can also be affordable. Before you resign yourself to paying top dollar for your childcare services, consider the following options that can help you reduce and lower your costs on childcare.
1. Work Alternating Shifts With Your Spouse
If you have some flexibility in your work scheduling, try rearranging your work schedules with your spouse to cover as much time at home as possible. This may make it possible to completely forgo outside childcare or at least cut down to just a few days a week. This is a great option for parents that work for companies that have a wide range of hours available to work. Although it may not be the most appealing option given that you may not get to see a lot of your spouse it does help lower sometimes staggering cost of childcare.
2. Trade Childcare With Other Parents
Perhaps you work weekends and have two open days off during the week that another family member or friend does not. If so you might team up and watch the others children on your available days off this could make it so you only need 2 or 3 days a week of outside childcare. To make this work you would need to make sure your schedules are fairly consistent and have a backup plan for possible vacations or overtime days that need to be worked by the other parent.
3. Look For Employer Discounts
Talk to your employer and see if there are any childcare facilities that offer a discount to employees of your company. Some large companies are lucky enough to offer this additional perk to their employees.
4. Flex Spending Accounts
One often overlooked savings option is the flex spending account. This is also something that is offered through your employer so check to see if this is available to you. This option allows you to pay for your childcare tax free. You would ask your employer to deduct a set amount of money from each pay check and place it in your flex account to cover your monthly childcare expenses. These funds would be deducted before taxes are taken out making your childcare payments tax free.
5. Barter Your Services For Childcare
Maybe you can offer your services instead of cash for childcare expenses. Maybe you’re an attorney or a mechanic. Who wouldn’t love for someone else to do their cooking 3 or 4 days a week? Don’t think just because your day job isn’t something you can barter that this option isn’t open to you. Many people have hobbies that could just as easily be traded for childcare services. Sewing, baking, woodworking, handyman services are all things that can be of value to others so don’t be afraid to ask for this option.
6. Telecommute A Few Days A Week
If your employer is flexible they might even be open to you telecommuting a few days a week. This option is great for parents with young children. This allows you to be home with the kids while still earning an income. Many companies are becoming more open to this option as jobs become more mobile and information more accessible.
7. Half Day School And After School Programs
These programs are also a great way to save on childcare. Check with your school district to see if they have any half day preschool programs available for young children. These are often offered at no cost and this would cut your additional childcare needs down to just half days instead of full. If your child is already in school look into after school programs offered through your school district or city these are often offered at a lower cost than traditional childcare or on a sliding income scale.
8. Share A Nanny
Instead of looking for a childcare center consider hiring an in home nanny. This may seem expensive but if you share a nanny with another family it can be a very affordable option. For instance if each of you pay $300 a week for outside childcare you could afford to pay an in home nanny $500 a week combined and still save $50 a week on childcare.