How to Budget For Childcare

Man with baby

Tip Content Provided By: Financial Finesse

As I think back to when my daughter was a baby, I can’t help but think of how expensive that time in our lives was. In fact, I used to call her my little mortgage payment. With the average cost of childcare for an infant easily exceeding $10,000 a year, many parents struggle to budget for it. The following strategies can help take the financial bite out of child care:

1. Create a budget to see exactly how much you can spend on child care. Look for items you can cut back on such as cable, eating out or entertainment.

2. Once you have created your budget, decide how much you can reasonable afford for child care. Contact your employer to see if they offer a child care search services. Research childcare options that meet your budget. A private nanny may be out, but a quality daycare facility may fit into your budget. A friend of mine did her budget and realized that it was cheaper for her to stay home rather than put her children in daycare.

3. Once you have narrowed potential childcare providers, ask about discounts. You may be able to get an employee discount or a discount based on where you live or if you have multiple children attending the same daycare. If your income is limited, contact your child care provider or your state’s Child Care Program Office about financial assistance.

4. Consider using employer savings plans like a dependent care FSA to save money for daycare pre-tax or claiming a dependent care tax credit on your taxes. Since you can’t use both on the same expense, weigh your options to see which one is better. In general, a dependent care FSA is better for higher income earners (above the 15% tax bracket) and the dependent care tax credit is better for lower income wage earners.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the cost of daycare. With a little bit of planning, childcare does not have to bust your budget. A little bit of research can go a long way to helping you find the best childcare option for your needs.