Nine ways to prevent childcare costs from busting your budget

If you’ve already joined the working parents club, then you completely understand the pain of having childcare costs eating away your budget each month. The hefty price tag of childcare pushes many to delay having children until they feel they can easily afford such responsibility. Before you begin your search for childcare, or if you’re just looking to reduce childcare costs, be sure you know just how much of your budget you can actually afford to allocate to childcare.

1. Barter

Money isn’t the only way to pay for goods and services. Do you have a skill or provide a service that your daycare could use? Simply talk to the director of the daycare to see if you could offer your skills to reduce the costs, or even better, remove the costs altogether. Daycares often hire services for marketing, cleaning, cooking, janitorial, and more. Bartering is still a thing these days, and it relieves the financial burden for both parties involved.

2. Research and compare

First and foremost, research daycares near your home and compare pricing. Think about what’s most important to you, and create a list of questions that can be your guide. Do you want a daycare that’s close to home or one that stays open later than most daycares? While it’s nice to have a low rate, you don’t want to risk your child’s safety or place them in childcare where the teachers are overwhelmed with more children than they can handle.

3. In-home childcare

Businesses exist to generate income, and you can believe that daycares aren’t any different. To take advantage of lower rates, consider an in-home daycare. In-home daycares typically don’t face the same overhead expenses as regular daycare centers that have to hire staff, pay rent, buy food, pay utilities, and buy supplies. If you want to check on the license of an in-home daycare or find valuable childcare resources and tips, visit childcare.gov.

4. Adjust your work schedule

Many employers will work with employees if they need to adjust their work schedules. If your daycare offers part-time or drop-in options, work half the week from home and utilize the daycare the other days. Or, if you want to work nights and weekends, while your partner stays home in the daytime with the children, see if that is available to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Many companies aren’t as strict as they were many years ago, appealing to hard-working, young, and thriving parents who are a valuable asset to the company.

5. Work remotely

Telecommuting is a great way to eliminate or reduce childcare costs. Many employers are flexible and understand the need for employees to work remotely occasionally or full-time. Working from home is also beneficial in that it allows you to attend school events, reduce evening stress, save on gas and car repairs, and most off all, allows you to save more money for other day-to-day financial needs. Stay on top of your work responsibilities to ensure your boss doesn’t regret it and suspend your work from home privileges.

6. Government assistance

Yes, childcare is so expensive that the government has stepped in to help parents who struggle to pay the high cost of care each month. While there are certain qualifications that must be met to receive help from the government, it’s a great financial resource worth researching. And don’t assume you exceed the income limits. When you factor in children and the expenses of running a household, many people will be surprised to find out they actually do qualify.

7. Boys & Girls Club or YMCA

Many Boys & Girls Clubs have been around for decades and, just like the YMCA, provide great afterschool hours and very affordable rates. These youth activity centers help students with their homework, engage them with physical and mental activities, provide food, and offer a safe environment for them to work and play.

8. Ask family

Is grandma sitting at home all day watching her favorite court-television shows? Why not ask granny to look after your little one while you work? After all, she’s experienced. Typically, grandmothers love spending time with their grandchildren, or any small children. It may not be the same type of care you’d find at a daycare center, but it’s usually convenient, safe, and affordable. Maybe you have another relative nearby whose schedule isn’t hectic. Family is often supportive of their working family members who have little ones and need to save money. Reach out to your family members and explain the ever-rising costs of daycare and how difficult it is to pay. If they are reluctant, maybe you can pay them something to soften the blow, while helping you to avoid the hefty expense at regular daycares.

9. Try church

Many churches have joined the childcare business, but the best part is their competitive pricing. Most church daycares operate at a 20 percent or greater discount than most private daycare centers. Call around to churches in your neighborhood and inquire about their rates. Once you find one that matches your budget, stop in for a visit. You’ll often find there are fewer children and a very friendly staff. However, more likely than not, there will be some teachings about religion as a part of the church ministry. If you don’t want your child learning about the religion of that church, find one that has similar religious views.

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