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Child care is a big expense for many families today with many parents spending thousands of dollars per year on child care. These high costs can put a lot of stress on a family and their budgets because for many families, child care is a requirement, not an option. Luckily for us all there are a few different ways families can fit child care into their budget and not break the bank. Here are our top four tips to fit child care into your budget.
Make budget cuts
Cutting out unnecessary expenses is the first way to free up space in a budget. Little cuts add up over time and a little planning goes a long way. These budget cuts, however, need to be long-term cuts. Think about if it’s possible to go without certain luxuries for approximately five years – because these cuts will be required for the entire time child care is needed. As children get older, child care costs typically change and costs will decrease significantly when they attend school full-time. At that point, parents can reevaluate their budgets.
Be open to different types of child care
Child care options can vary from daycare centers to in-home daycare to nannies, etc. Child care prices can vary as well typically with daycare centers and nannies costing the most. Keep an open mind when looking at child care options. Your first choice in child care may not fit into the budget so it’s important to be willing to look into and trying different types of child care to find one that will fit into your budget.
Look into all your options
Apply for grants and scholarships at daycare centers and preschools that offer them. Look into government-funded assistance programs. Check with a tax professional to learn it it’s possible to receive tax breaks on child care and always ask employers if they offer FSAs to ease the cost of child care. Options for lessening the impact of high child care costs are not always well-known, so it’s important to keep track of different ways to cut costs down even if it’s just by a few hundred dollars.
Take the details into account
When choosing child care be sure to consider the details. Picking a cheaper daycare center that’s farther from home and work may seem like the best option until the cost of gas surpasses the day care savings. Sending a child to a traditional daycare center or to an in-home daycare may not be the best idea for parents who travel often with work since those parents may require nannies with flexible schedules to cover late hours or overnight trips. Consider every detail when looking at child care options like location, hours, flexibility, food (snacks and meals), price, safety and their accreditations.
Child care costs won’t last forever and those first few years fly by, believe me! The most expensive child care years are typically from infancy until kindergarten resulting in five years of large payments per child. After that the costs often lessen dramatically and leave more room in the budget.