On average, parents in the US spend $8,355 annually on childcare for each kid. Given the high cost of childcare, it's important to find tips on how to save on these costs to ensure they don't take up a significant proportion of your income. Here are practical tips to save on childcare services.
1. Always Shop Around
Before settling for a specific childcare center, ask for recommendations from your friends, neighbors, colleagues, or family members. Ask about their childcare experiences and which centers they would recommend.
After getting a couple of recommendations, search online. You can visit social media groups, search for parent forums and see any documented experiences or recommendations. Vet the centers when considering the facilities, prices, child-to-worker ratios, activities offered, and licenses.
2. Enroll Early
Some centers fill up spots quickly, and getting your child admitted at the last minute could cost you more. So, before rushing in at the last minute, look for the center early on and enroll your child. Ensure that the center meets local safety standards, registrations, and state licensing requirements before enrolling your child.
3. Trim Costs
Some centers offer additional fees, which increase the overall costs, like late pickup charges and meal plans. Ask for a breakdown of the fee schedule, including all services offered, add-ons, and fees. You can go through the list to confirm the necessary and optional fees. For example, rather than paying the food charges, you can try and negotiate a better rate if your child brings their own food.
4. Take Parental Leave From Work, If Possible
The age of the child greatly influences childcare costs. Since infants and toddlers need more attention and labor, the prices are higher. If you can, take parental leave from work to care for your new baby. If possible, you can take care of your child until they become toddlers and enjoy bonding with your baby and saving money. However, don't overlook the cost of your career when taking your time off.
5. Claim FSA or Tax Credit Benefits
You can also save by claiming tax deductions from either FSA or Tax credit, but usually not both. Choose one depending on how many children you have and what your current situation is.
In some cases, a tax credit can be worth more, or it can be less in other cases. While tax credit is an excellent choice, you get a lump sum after filing your yearly tax return. On the other hand, FSA includes higher paychecks during the year, easing the cash flow.
Raising a child involves high costs that could strain your budget. The tips above will help you save on childcare service costs.
For more information, contact a local childcare service, such as Seattle Nanny Network Inc.