Over the last decade or two, child care costs have grown exponentially and will probably get worse in the near future. This is due to the growing number of two-income homes that we have seen in this country. Here are a few things that you can do in order to reduce your child care costs.
Look For Lower Child Care Costs at Churches
Since I happen to live in the daycare capital of America (New Jersey), I have seen a large number of child care facilities pop up in recent years. Many of these businesses are housed in churches. In fact, many churches actually receive a large part of their revenue from the daycare centers that they run. What this has done is bring in a lot more competition that can help keep costs in check. Also, many churches see this as a ministry to the community and will charge prices that are much lower than average for that area.
Reasonable Child Care Costs at a University?
Many universities (including my employer), offer child care for both faculty and staff. They are able to charge lower prices than the average daycare facility because, oftentimes, they will staff the center with students who are performing clinical hours while studying child development.
Also, this benefit may extend to graduate students as well. So if you had an eye on a Master’s or a Ph.D., check with your local university to see if they offer this service for students.
A Discount for Child Care Costs?
Many daycare centers will partner with local corporations to offer a discount to employees. Check with your human resources department to see if your company has negotiated lower child care costs for their employees with any of the local providers. Also check to see if your employer offers a flexible spending account for daycare costs.
Another popular source for discounts is to pre-pay for an entire season. Many providers will offer discounts if you pay upfront. This is no different than car insurance, or other providers who will offer a lower price on their service for a pre-payment.
Start a Co-op
This is where you team up with other parents in your neighborhood and try to share the child care burden together. This works best when you have a few stay at home moms in the group. For a couple days a week you can switch off on who watches the kids.
Some even suggest using a point system in order to track everyone’s involvement. Since each family will have different needs, all of the details will have to be worked out based on the desires of the group. You can think of it as a "carpool" for kids!
Ask For Help
If you have a family member that lives in the area and has a schedule that allows for them to care for your children, ask them for help. I have a friend who’s mother no longer works, and so she pays her mother to watch her daughter each day while she’s at work. What she has to pay is much lower than what her child care costs would be if she had to pay full price for daycare (or even use the university’s facility)!
Depending on your income level and other circumstances, you may qualify for child care assistance. This may come from the government, your local church, or even a charitable organization. Before you write out that huge daycare check, see if there are any organizations willing to subsidize your child care costs.
There are a number of costs associated with becoming a two income home, and child care costs are usually the largest of them all. It simply may not be worth it to pursue a second income. I know that you think that a $50,000 salary would warrant paying a daycare to watch your children, but you have to factor in all the costs.
Thankfully, Craig has already created a stay at home mom math analysis chart to help you decide whether it’s worth it to pursue another income, or if you should just stay home.
According to his chart (his assumptions are actually too conservative for a couple in New Jersey ;-)), someone who has a salary of $50,000 per year would only bring in $9,125 in extra income for the year! That works out to an hourly pay rate of $4.39 – which is about $3 less than minimum wage!!!
So you must consider whether the best way to reduce your child care costs is to stay at home! Please read Craig’s reflections at the end of the post that I linked to above (the one with the chart)!
photo by Shaggy Paul
How much do you pay for child care?
What steps have you taken to reduce your costs?
Have you performed a detailed analysis of your second income to make sure you aren’t wasting your time?