How do you make sure your children are well taken care of without worrying about coming up short in your budget? Unfortunately, many of the most “traditional” childcare options for working parents are costly. Daycare can easily be more than the cost of rent depending on your location and how many children you have. What are families to do?
Unless you’re able to rely on a single income, you’ll likely be looking into a childcare centre. These fees can rapidly eat up any wage you bring in, creating a catch-22. There’s no denying it can be a highly stressful situation, but there are alternatives. Whether you’re looking to get back into the workforce to help with debt or simply bring in extra income, these budget savvy childcare solutions help you lighten the load.
1. Rely on Relatives
In many cultures throughout the world, it’s common for relatives to look after younger children. As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” This couldn’t be more true than it is today.
Many people turn to grandparents when looking for childcare, but any trusted family member may certainly provide you with much-needed assistance. Given some childcare centres charge up to $160 a day, even one day a week of care from a family member could save you hundreds of dollars a month. It sounds simple, but it works.
2. Parents Babysitting Exchange
Other parents can also be a good option. Some parents have a childcare ‘exchange’ and take turns to care for children on different days of the week. Consider what days or hours you need help, and then ask others who may be in a similar position.
If you sit down and discuss your options, you may find you are in a position to help each other out. This is a great way to balance some of your childcare needs amongst friends, those in your community, and fellow parents.
3. Au Pair or Nanny
While au pairs may seem to belong to the domain of the wealthy, an au pair can actually be a very convenient and cost-saving solution. Au pairs are often international students or travellers. They are generally live-in, so you’ll provide a bedroom, meals, and a small allowance.
A reputable au pair employment service can provide you with experienced au pairs, look after visa requirements and give you all the facts. Similarly, a nanny could be more cost-effective compared to full-time daycare. This is especially true if you have multiple young children.
4. Nanny Share
If you do choose to use a nanny, you can cut costs even more by doing what’s called a “nanny share.” Like a babysitting exchange, this is when you share the nanny between multiple families throughout the week. For example, you might have a nanny look after your children Monday through Wednesday, and they assist with another family for Thursday and Friday.
By sharing your nanny with another family, you cut costs accordingly. Many nannies are open to this type of long-term arrangement, so this could be the best fit for your needs. When in doubt, working through a qualified agency helps you meet all of your needs.
5. Family Daycare
Some local councils oversee family daycare programs, where up to five children are cared for in the home of a qualified, experienced childcare worker. Costs are usually more affordable than in childcare centres, waitlists tend to be shorter, and carers are generally able to give more personal attention to your child.
Your local council should be able to advise you about the program in your area. With family daycare, you may also be eligible for extra childcare support. It really does take a village, so why not use yours?
6. Non-Profit Centres
Though not available everywhere, there are some daycare centres that offer non-profit or low-profit services. These are usually run through community groups, churches, and other religious centres. You might have low-cost or even free options in your own community.
These places often also run free or inexpensive after-school programs for school-age children. You can find something for all ages, and this helps reduce the burden of costly childcare for your little ones.
7. Combine Household Jobs
If you’re already in the market for a housekeeper, pet caretaker, tutor, or any other home service, it might be time to combine. Finding someone who is able to bundle these responsibilities with childcare duties makes things less complicated and saves you money.
It’s always important to make a monthly budget before you start this process. If you’re already spending money on other home services, you might find combining these duties to be very cost-effective.
8. Stagger Work Schedules
Last but not least, you might consider staggering your work schedules with your partner. Having a more flexible work schedule always makes it easier to stay home with the kids when needed. If you can shift your schedules so you need fewer days of paid childcare, this is money saved in the bank.
More and more employers are offering remote work opportunities or flexible scheduling. Would this be an option at your workplace? Talk to your manager about your childcare needs and see if there’s anything that can be worked out. You’ll never know unless you ask, and workplaces are rapidly changing every day.
Caring for the Little Ones
However difficult the childcare situation appears to be at the moment, it’s worth remembering that many others have been in the same situation and found effective solutions. While you shouldn’t be shy in asking for help from family and friends, don’t hesitate to look into alternatives like these ideas above.
If you are feeling weighed down by debt or other financial pressures in addition to childcare costs, please don’t hesitate to talk to us. Our debt relief service is designed to help you regain your financial freedom and move on with your life. Talk to a financial expert today about the best steps to take regarding your financial goals.