The biggest expense for a working parent may not be rent; if you have one or more children in daycare, your childcare costs likely surpass your housing costs each month, according to a recent piece in Bloomberg Business. It’s not just housing, most of us are now paying more for daycare than it costs to send a child to college, making childcare one of the biggest budget killers around. Even trimming your costs by a little bit each month can yield big savings; we’ve asked the experts — actual working parents – what they do to reduce their childcare expenditures. The answers may surprise you, and are sure to help you cut your own costs as well.
6 Ways to Slash your Childcare Costs
Modify your Schedule
It won’t work for every field, but if you can structure your schedule to work fewer days per week, you might be able to cut your costs. “We were not able to drop a day entirely, but switching things around so my husband could drop the girls off at 7:30 instead of 6:30 allows us to save over a hundred dollars in early drop-off fees each month.” Shelly W, Nashville TN
Visit more than one daycare facility to not only get an idea of where your child will be spending his time, but to get the real scoop on prices as well. Compare costs from at least three facilities if possible and you’ll likely see that one has a clear price edge. “I live in the burbs but work in the city. The daycare in our building was so much more expensive than the one I found close to home; I like that the play center we chose has a yard, too!” Holly S, Columbia SC
Get a Discount
Don’t forget to ask about discounts – some centers offer discounted rates to parents who work for a large, local employer or who enroll more than one child in the program at a time. “We saved a little when both girls were in the same center, but had to ask to get the discount. Not everyone will offer this, but it is worth asking about.” Robin and Greg B, Tabernacle NJ
Choose your Add-ons Wisely
The center you choose may offer a hot lunch or meal plan, but it is likely more economical to pack a lunch for your child each day. Packing saves you money – and allows you to make sure your child has a healthy lunch that fits your family food goals every day, too. “Olivia needs a gluten free diet, and our (otherwise awesome) daycare charges more for specialty meals. Packing her food does more than help me save, I know she won’t have access to anything that doesn’t fit her dietary needs, too.” Sydney W, Houston TX
Stay Close to Home (or Work)
“A lower-priced daycare across town is not really a bargain if you have to spend time and money getting there every day, so choosing a childcare center that is near one of your destinations can cut down your travel time and the amount of money you spend getting around.” Tammie S, via Facebook
Take the Right Deductions
Some of the money you pay for daycare can be deducted from your taxes each year; the Child and Dependent Care Credit is designed to offset the cost of paying someone to watch your child while you work. If you pay for childcare, then you could claim up to $3,000 in expenses per year; a tax program or preparer can help you make the most of this credit each year. “We cut our taxable income by almost $6,000 in 2015 using the childcare tax credit.” Deb B, Yardley PA
The amount of money you pay for childcare is just one aspect of choosing the right caregiver for your child; we can help you take a comprehensive look at your options and choose the perfect place for your family. Visit TopDaycareCenters.com to get the comprehensive look at the options in your area and for assistance making the right choice for your family.