Returning to work after having a baby is inevitable for most parents. However, childcare costs are hefty and substantially eat into a family's income. The average cost of a child, aged four years or younger, attending daycare on a full time basis is $9,589, therefore, it's easy to see why so many American families are riddled in debt and are struggling to get by. So, you'll be pleased to know that there are things you can do to help improve or lower your childcare expenses and there are ways to stretch your salary to make things more comfortable for your family, too.
Is your job suitable for life with youngsters? If the daily commute is going to take up a considerable chunk of your day, then it might be time to find something a little closer to home in order to reduce the amount you have to spend on childcare. Another option is to look at reducing your hours or seeing whether working from home is an option as you could put in the hours first thing in the morning, during nap times and in the evening.
Grandparents love spending time with their grandkids, so don't be afraid to ask them to help out with childcare. Similarly, if you have a friend who doesn't work the same hours as you, you could come to an arrangement whereby he or she looks after your little one in return for you babysitting his or her children at the weekend. Or, are there a group of mums at your local baby group who you could you rely on? You could all help each other out, depending on when you each return to work.
According to a survey by Care.com, just 44% of parents who are eligible for a childcare tax break, utilise the entitlement. Yet, more than $2,000 could be saved annually by parents who opt to put a maximum of $5,000 of their pre-tax earnings into a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). FSA's are offered by employers, so, be sure to speak to your Human Resources department to see if they offer the scheme and to find out how to sign up.
Ideally, set up a savings account which is separate to any scheme your employer may offer, long before your child is born. However, don't worry if your little one is here and you still haven't set one up as it's never too late to start saving for childcare. You and your partner should come to a mutual agreement regarding how much you're going to put away and how frequently. Even a small amount such as $20 a week will help when the time comes to pay for childcare. Additionally, use a credit card with a reward program whenever you make a purchase to gain cashback which can be used to top up your childcare savings account.
There are multiple childcare options to choose from and some are more expensive than others. Understandably, parents want to ensure their children receive the best care, therefore, you should always review any childcare provider, their qualifications and their history. However, don't feel like you have to opt for the same childcare type as your friends or family as day care might not be the best option for your child or for your circumstances. Instead, consider in home care, such as nannies or au pairs who look after your offspring in the comfort of your own home.
Childcare is an expense most parents can't escape from, but, there's no need to stress about the cost if you take action to ease your childcare costs and the burden of them.
This article was written by and presents the views of our contributor Chrissy Carter, not the WiserAdvisor editorial staff.
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