Do you think the cost of childcare is too high for you to manage? Don’t panic just yet. Invest a little time into discovering some great ways you can cut childcare costs while still having reliable caregivers for your children.
Follow these 13 steps to help you make some big childcare savings.
1. Know Your Budget
How much money can you spare for childcare? When you actually start crunching numbers, you might be able to afford more than you thought. Knowing your budget will give you a great starting point for evaluating your options. And when you’re calculating what you can pay a nanny, don’t forget to factor in things like end-of-year bonuses and annual raises. Check out Care.com’s childcare pay calculator to figure out the going rate in your area.
2. Make an Early Start
At Care.com, most families look for care during the summer. The more affordable and experienced caregivers get grabbed early and day care slots fill up quickly. Start your search soon and don’t wait until the last minute.
3. Use a Personal Spending Account
If your employer offers a Personal Spending Account (PSA) make use of it! Set aside money for child care. Set aside the amount you truly need because funds in the account at the end of the year will be forfeited. And keep good records, as you must submit reimbursement requests to get the money back.
4. Know if You’re Eligible for Universal Child Care Benefit
The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) is designed to financially support families whose child or children are in child care. This does not need to be institutionalized child care, such as day care. Eligible families can receive $100 per month, per child under 6 years old. For more information about the UCCB, visit the Revenue Agency’s page.
5. Speak with HR
Companies are starting to recognize the burden that working parents face when it comes to child care. And they’re creating benefits to help. What benefits does your company offer? Some businesses offer child care reimbursements for working parents. Check in with your human resources department so you don’t miss out on these money-saving benefits.
6. Enrol in Day Care
Day care is often a more cost-effective childcare option than hiring a nanny, and can still be a nurturing environment for your child. Shop around to find one that fits your needs, schedule and budget. But if your schedule varies or you frequently work late, you might find that a nanny is cheaper than relying on the more structured hours of a day care. If you’re not sure, know the childcare choices available to you.
7. Make Use of the Office Day Care
If your company has an on-site day care, it can save your family money, while offering you peace of mind. Generally, on-site day care is more affordable than a day care in your community. And, best of all, your kids are nearby.
8. Hire an Au Pair
Au pairs are foreign nationals — young people from a different country who are looking to come to the country for one year as a part of an au pair programme. They work in childcare, take classes and experience Canadian life. It’s like they’re one-part nanny and one-part exchange student. An au pair lives with a host family, cares for their children and, in return, the hosts provides a room, board and a stipend. They’re usually less expensive than a nanny, but also have less training. They’re typically better for older children than younger.
9. Alter Your Schedule
If you can’t afford to stay at home full time, what about part time? You can find lots of jobs that offer a more flexible schedule, and then you only have to cover childcare costs for part of the week. If part-time isn’t an option, what about talking to your employer about a flexible schedule? Can you work only a few days a week, but put in longer hours? Talk to your partner about coordinating flexible work schedules so that someone is always available to watch your kids. If each parent can take a different shift, you can reduce the overall need for childcare.
10. Childcare Sharing
If you have friends who are also looking for childcare, get together and form a nanny share. You hire one nanny to watch both sets of kids and share the cost.
11. Arrange a Parent Share
If schedules and parenting styles allow, parents can also share childcare by swapping days. Money doesn’t change hands at all — the big investment here is time. If you take all the kids for three days and your neighbour or friend takes two (and then reverse it the next week), you can have reliable, cost-free childcare.
12. Find After-School Child Care
Your kids get out of school at 3, but you don’t get home from work until 6. What do you do? When you need someone to watch your children for a few short hours, a great cost-effective option can be hiring a teenage babysitter to help out. Teens are great for keeping younger kids occupied or prodding slightly older kids to get their homework done. Not sure if a teen will work for you? Check out your 8 Options for After-School Child Care »
13. Include New Jobs
Sometimes nannies are willing to take on additional duties that can make this a more affordable option. See if your nanny is willing to and has the skills necessary to also handle some housekeeping, pet care or tutoring duties. Of course you’ll need to pay her more for the extra work, but it will be less than hiring a completely new person. Just make sure her priority is always your kids. Consider: Should You Pay Your Nanny When Kids Are At School?
Above all, remember that child care is not something you want to scrimp on. You should invest in the highest quality you can afford, to make sure your children are taken care of by someone who is experienced, nurturing and dependable.