Child care costs are rising, and families are finding that the cost is sucking up at least 20 percent of their household budget. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the amount of money it takes to put two children in child care is more than the amount of median rent payments in all 50 states. Here are some tips on how to save money on child care costs.
Utilize family members. If a grandparent has retired recently, he or she might be willing to pick the kids up at school and keep them until the parents come home from work. Similarly, look for teenage cousins who would like to do some babysitting for a little spending money. If you have a relative who stays home with her kids anyway, ask if she would be willing to watch your little one too. You would have to pay her, but it would probably be less than if you put your baby or preschooler into full time daycare.
Take advantage of dependent care flexible spending accounts. Some employers will offer flexible spending accounts to their employees for child care. You can save a certain amount of your pre-tax salary in these accounts, and pay for your child care out of them. It will save you money on taxes and give you a separate child care budget.
Look for community-supported programs. Most cities and towns have a YMCA or a Boys and Girls Club. The costs to keep your children in these programs are often lower than at private child care centers.
Share some babysitting. Get together with parents in your neighborhood and share the cost of a babysitter or nanny. You could rotate which house hosts the sitter and the kids.