Child care costs can be astronomical and can really reduce how much money you get to spend and save each pay period, but chances are good that you can't exactly pull your child out of daycare. Although you might have to pay for child care-related costs, however, there are ways that you can save money. By following these tips, you might be surprised by how much you can shave off of your regular child care-related expenses.
Consider Work-Related Options
Many larger companies run their own daycare facilities and offer child care to their employees at reduced rates. Not only can these options help you save money, but they can also help ensure that your children are close by while you are at work and can cut down on commute times and stress in the morning.
Even if your employer does not offer a daycare facility, however, there is a good chance that there are other options available to you. For example, your company might be able to give you a referral that will allow you to enjoy a discounted rate at a local child care facility.
Opening up a flexible savings account through your place of employment is also a good way to save up money for child care-related expenses. With a flexible savings account, you can save up to $2,500 per year without having to pay taxes on the money, which can allow you to plan for child care-related savings without having to worry about tax penalties.
It's also a good idea to find out if your employer will allow you to telecommute. More and more people are beginning to work from home nowadays, and doing so will allow you to spend more time with your children and cut down on expenses without having to sacrifice your career. With some positions, it is possible to work full-time from home. Even if this isn't possible for you, there is a good chance that you can work from home at least a couple of days each week.
Seek Government Resources
The United States government offers lots of resources to help families tackle child care-related expenses. Government-funded child care programs are available in each state, and you should look for opportunities such as the Head Start program. These programs make it easy for parents to find affordable child care for their little ones.
Even if you do pay for your own daycare through a separate program, you might be eligible for a tax credit that will reimburse a sizable portion of the money that you have spent on child care in the past year. The federal credit is known as the Child and Dependent Care Credit, and many states also offer their own tax cuts for these types of expenses.
If you are in a situation where your child has to be put in a special child care program due to a medical-related issue, there is a good chance that you can count this money as a medical expense for your family. These expenses might make you eligible for a different type of tax cut.
Affordable Alternatives to Daycare
Let's face it: Daycare is expensive, regardless of if you qualify for a discount or tax credit or not. However, there are other child care options that you can look into; not only will many of them allow you to save money, but some of them can be a lot more enjoyable for your child as well.
Ask a Relative for Assistance with Child Care
There is a good chance that your parents, grandparents and other family members would love to spend more time with your children, and they can do so while saving you a little bit of money and stress by babysitting while you are at work during the day. Although you certainly don't want to ask too much of your loved ones, being able to count on a family member or close friend for child care a few days out of the month can actually save you a substantial amount of money.
Share a Nanny
If there are other parents in your neighborhood who are in need of child care, it's not a bad idea to hire and share a nanny. Then, you can enjoy reduced rates, and your children will be able to spend time with other kids from the area. Before sharing a nanny, however, it is important to sit down with the other parents to plan out all of the details and to create a contract.
Hire an Au Pair
An exciting and affordable way to get the help that you need with child care while also enjoying a whole new cultural experience is to host an au pair. An au pair is an international individual who will come and stay in your home for about a year and take care of your children while he or she is there. The rates are generally very affordable, and it can be a lot of fun to interact with someone from another country. Au pairs generally work for 45 hours a week, which means that you can get a little bit of extra help after you get off of work as well. Not only can this be an affordable and stress-free option for you, but it can also be highly educational for your child.
Start a Babysitting Co-Op
Just as sharing a nanny can be a great way to save money on child care costs, starting a babysitting co-op is another great idea. If you and several other parents in your neighborhood take turns babysitting, you can virtually eliminate your child care costs while still getting the services that you need. Although you will have to contribute a little bit and babysit for a little while every now and then yourself, this arrangement can be well worth it.
As you can see, there is really no reason to shell out thousands of dollars a year on child care. Instead, consider checking out one of these options for saving money on daycare-related expenses; you might be surprised by just how much money you can save.