There are line items on your spending plan you can feel fairly comfortable skimping on, like paper towels or toothpaste. However, the supervision of your child likely isn’t one of those areas where you’d like to cut corners. So, getting the best care for your son or daughter means shelling out major cash each month, right? Not necessarily. Check out these options that won’t force you to empty your child’s college fund:
Family or close friends The idea of having your loved ones looking after your children can be very comforting. Plus, it’s less expensive (or even free) than traditional childcare. Do your best though to not make the caregivers feel like they’re being taken advantage of – it can cause the situation to turn sour quickly and leave you back at square one.
Local low-income childcare programs If your income level qualifies you, city, county or state programs may get you access to special childcare programs set up to help working parents. Check with your local social services office to learn more.
Co-ops More and more babysitting or childcare cooperatives are springing up in response to the high costs of traditional daycare. The savings over regular daycare can make all the difference. Some co-ops let you earn points by providing childcare for others. Then you can exchange these points for the care of your own child and end up paying little to nothing. Read reviews online to find a reputable group. If one doesn’t exist, research how to create one!
In-home daycare Often, enterprising parents will create a daycare in their home to make some extra money while watching after their own children. Once again, the savings versus a traditional daycare facility can be amazing. Check to make sure the proprietor of the home daycare has the appropriate licensing for your state. It’s also a good idea to ask for some referrals.
Nonprofit organizations The YMCA is probably the best-known non-profit that provides affordable daycare, but check to see if there are any other groups in your area that offer this service. Because there’s no profit motive, the costs are kept down. And there are often just as many, if not more, activities for the children to participate in.
Care sponsored by an employer, college or place of worship All of the above organizations have been known to provide or subsidize childcare programs. While they may not completely meet your needs, it’s wise to check what kinds of programs are available before you make any decisions. Know that your employer’s benefits may be offered through an employee assistance program.
Extended baby-sitting or nanny care Before you dismiss this possibility, consider how many young people there are out of work these days. Many of those young people have large student loans or other debts to pay. You may find that because of the competition among young people to provide childcare services, you can actually get a reliable and conscientious person to look after your child for much less than you had anticipated. Sites like SitterCity.com or Care.com can provide a list of caregivers in your area who have background checks and come with referrals. You’ve probably heard a lot of fretting over the years about the cost of child care and the lack of affordable options. However, where there are needs to be filled, services usually spring up to fill the gaps. With some dedicated research, you may find care that gives your child the attention he or she deserves, while minimizing the impact to your bank account.