This post is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The FinancialVerse Guide to Savings – 600 Cash Savings Ideas.
Here are ten ideas to save cash on childcare options:
1. Consider cheaper childcare options. If you are not working remotely, you should compare childcare options in your area to see if a cheaper alternative would be a better value. Or get creative by trying to cut back your existing childcare a day or two each week. Try working a later shift once a week so you can be home during the day. If you’re lucky enough to live near grandparents, they might be willing to watch the kids part-time while you work.
2. Reduce or eliminate organized child activities. Activity overkill is something all parents have to confront at some time. The cost of your kids' activities can be really high if you don’t keep it in check. To minimize these costs, look at the real expenses involved with any sport or activity before you let your children sign up. Meanwhile, keeping kids in a small number of focused activities can also help you save as much as possible and help keep you sane.
3. Take your vacations during non-childcare time. If your kids are having in-school classes, plan your vacation days on the days your children have half days of school or on teacher in-service days. It yields more time with kids and lower childcare costs.
4. Use the benefit of a Flexible Spending Account. Use a Flexible Spending or Dependent Care Account offered by your employer. This account can be used to pay for dependent care services such as daycare, preschool and summer camps. You will be able to put pre-tax money from your paycheck into a dedicated account to help offset childcare expenses. The limit for contributing is $5,000 for a married couple in 2020. You save what would have been the income taxes on this amount as you contribute pre-tax dollars.
5. Look to hire an au pair. This is an action that I took when my kids were older. Au pairs are often foreign young women (and sometimes young men) who want to live abroad for a period of time. You can often host an au pair as part of your family for a summer or even an entire year. Typically, this will cost less than a live-in nanny, but they do live with your family, which can be convenient if you’re juggling hectic work schedules.
6. Look to share the services of a nanny. If you’re more comfortable with the one-on-one care and flexibility a nanny offers, consider a nanny share. This is where you share a nanny with friends or neighbors located nearby. Nannies are often happy to do a nanny share because it means higher weekly rates for them. Since you’re splitting the rates with another family, you’ll pay less.
7. Plan ahead for summer childcare. As your kids get older, having quality childcare during the summer months is especially important. To do this, you’ll need to plan well ahead for summertime care for your school-aged children. The most affordable, high-quality options will certainly fill up first, so you’ll want to get on that waitlist sooner rather than later.
8. Find a parent’s pandemic helper. Parents who work from home usually find that they need some sort of childcare so they can actually get work done. One of the best ways to fill this gap is with a parent’s helper. Since you’re home working, you don’t need an experienced high school or college student for this role. Often 5th and 6th grade students from your neighborhood will charge an affordable hourly rate to entertain your kids while you’re nearby in case of an emergency.
9. Inquire about income-based options. Some childcare centers, especially those run by non-profits, offer sliding-scale fees based on income. If you make too much money to qualify for state-based subsidies, but not enough to comfortably cover childcare, look into daycare centers with these types of options.
10. Fully understand and leverage your employer’s maternity and paternity leave benefits. More and more companies are offering longer maternity leaves, and even paternity leave. If your goal is to save on childcare, be sure you leverage these policies correctly, especially if you have two parents with parental leave benefits.
Saving money can be hard if you don’t know where to look. I have tried to provide some ideas for you to consider to reduce the costs of caring.
If you're looking for ideas on where to find cash savings, please buy my new book, The FinancialVerse Guide to Savings – 600 Cash Savings Ideas.
The book is priced at $16.99 for print and only $3.99 for the eBook. Cash Savings provides practical suggestions for where you should look for savings as part of your day-to-day life. For most households, I believe they will find at least $600 in annual savings.