Saving Money on Child Care
Mama always said that raising kids wasn’t easy, but what I really didn’t seem to comprehend was just how much it was going to cost me.
Of course, I knew the years of diapers, formula and countless trips to the doctor to make sure everything was okay was going to be expensive, but I figured that once we finally mastered potty training, life was going to be a breeze, at least financially. Boy, was I wrong.
When it came to my first born little girl, I lucked out in the childcare department. My mother in law was unemployed and looking for an easy way to make extra money. It didn’t hurt that she’d always wanted a girl and was blessed with three wonderful, if not trying, little boys instead. It was really easy to talk her into keeping Lexi for a mere $40 a week. The catch was that she kept her in my home and I supplied everything, including two meals a day for both my mother in law and brother in law, who happened to be staying with her at the time. I was still making out like a bandit since I could bargain grocery shop like nobody’s business.
But when it came to keeping my son, it was another story completely. Of course, at first my mother in law was willing to oblige me, however felt as though a raise was in order. She justified this with the fact that my daughter was 4 and would be in the house as well. The stakes were raised to $80 bucks per week, which I was willing to pay, not so much that my financial life was in any better shape than when my daughter was born. In fact, I was a little worse for wear. But, the idea of placing my tiny infant in the care of someone I didn’t know made my stomach crawl. Eventually, I placed him in the care of a very wonderful woman (Adam was 4 at the time) and I paid $100 per week, which darn near killed my wallet.
Which brings me to the reason I am writing this post to begin with. Over the years, I have found that my friends have been faced with this very same dilemma. What to do about trying to continue working, keep their babies in quality childcare facilities and not go broke in the process. Here are a few things we were able to come up with.
1). Set up a co-op. If your company is willing to allow you and some other parents somewhat flexible hours, see if you and your friends can begin working 4-10 hour days, taking different days off. The person that is off can keep the children. You can choose to compensate this person a few dollars or agree that the cost save is benefit enough.
2). Negotiate with a well known sitter. If you can guarantee that you and a few other folks will be willing to use a particular childcare facility, you may be able to bring that guaranteed income to the table when it comes to negotiating a weekly price for care. This technique will work better with a well established, larger facility than with a small, single caregiver set up. It might also help that you agree to provide your own food, diapers, etc. which may already come as part of the cost of care.
3). Work part time or from home and enlist the help of a local, dependable stay at home mom or teenager. This practice will help on two fronts. You won’t be expected to pay as much for part time care or care for a child if you are in your home, even if you are working AND you’ll be there to help keep an eye on things.
There are tons of other ideas out there that other moms have had success with. If you have some great ideas to share, post there in the comments here.