Child care costs are a challenge for many people. In fact, a 2017 study found that across the United States, the cost for two children to attend a center-based child care was more expensive than food and transportation. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help make child care more affordable.
Here are 7 easy ways to save on child care:
1. Include Family in Your Childcare Plan
You may have already thought to have a family member watch your kids while you’re at work or school, but then decided against it. Maybe you thought it was too much to ask, or maybe they couldn’t commit to it as often as you needed. But do you have a family member who is willing and able to watch your kids just one day a week or even for a couple half days? Every little bit can save you money! Be creative in how you use the childcare resources available to you — it doesn’t have to be all day care or all babysitting.
2. Share Babysitting Duties with a Friend
Do you have a friend or sibling who also has young children? Help each other out! You can save on childcare costs by regularly babysitting each other’s kids on a schedule that helps you manage parenting with your work or school schedule.
3. Earn a Degree or Certificate Online Instead of In a Traditional Classroom
When you enroll in an online training program or one that is blended — which combines in-person and online education — you get flexibility that isn’t available in traditional programs. That’s because you can do the schoolwork when it’s convenient for you. You’ll save time on your commute and can fit your studies around childcare obstacles. You may be able to do your schoolwork while your children are at school, during their nap or while they are involved in other activities. You won’t need a babysitter because you’ll work around your children’s schedule.
4. Ask Your Childcare Provider About a Multi-Child Discount
If you have more than one child, ask the childcare facility about a sibling discount. Even if it’s not something they advertise or bring up, they might still offer it.
5. Cut Back on Extras You Pay For
Does your childcare provider charge extra fees to give your kids meals or watch them after normal hours? These are just some of the extra costs that a facility may tack on to the base rate that you pay. Find out exactly what you pay for and if there is any room to reduce the cost. Maybe you can send your kids to day care with food from home, or maybe your boss will let you adjust your work shift so that you can pick your children up a little earlier.
6. Take Advantage of Tax Credits
If your child care is provided by a center or a person who operates as a business, you may be eligible for the dependent and child care tax credit. This tax credit depends on your income and can save you up to $1,050 for one child younger than 13, or $2,100 for two or more kids younger than 13.
7. Use a Flexible Spending Account
See if your employer offers a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account, or DCFSA. This is a savings account you can build up using pre-tax income and spend on various types of child care. Eligible types of care that you can use DCFSA funds on include preschool, before or after school care, summer camp, and day care. Since you put money into this account pre-tax, it makes your overall taxable income lower, which means you get to keep more of what you earn.
At Charter College, we want to support you as a parent and student as you further your education. Contact us today to learn about the variety of programs we offer on campus and online.