Having children is expensive; there’s no getting around it. When it comes to child care, the average day care center can set you back as much as $6,000 annually, and if you live at a major city, expect to pay even more than this. However, there are some ways that you could cut down the costs of taking care of your children (and having someone take care of them, as well). Here are some guidelines to help you find affordable child care:
- Make use of tax breaks. Find out the amount of credit that you are entitled to depending on the number of dependent kids you have and how much you make. Know that throughout 2010, you might be eligible for tax breaks up to $1,000 per child. Another good news is that there are no limits to how many children will qualify to this tax credit, so if you have six kids, then up to $6,000 can be taken out your taxes. Remember, it’s really up to you to take the time to take full advantage of all the available tax breaks. Discuss your situation with your payroll department, and because the intricacies of the policies could be a little complicated, you may also want to hire a tax adviser to help you. Use the amount that you save to help you finance the costs of child care.
- Inquire with your employer about their available benefits for child care. Another very useful tax benefit that you could take advantage of are child care benefits that some major employers offer. In simplest terms, child care benefits is your employer’s contribution to the amount of money you spend on having someone take care of your child during the time you are at work (sorry, if your spouse works from home, this makes you ineligible for this benefit). Inquire with your employer about this.
- Consider having a child care coop with the other families in your neighborhood. If there is more than one family with kids in your area, you may want to get together and agree to have all your kids watched over by one hired babysitter. This way, you’d be able to negotiate with the babysitter for the best discounted rates. Do be sure that you coordinate with the other parents about the type of discipline that you want all your kids to be exposed to: TV, or no TV? What type of snacks should they get? Etc.
- Inquire about government-sponsored child care institutions at your area. You may be qualified to have your children participate in very affordable child (or even free) care programs in your area, such as prekindergarten programs or Head Start programs. To find listings of such programs near you, check out the National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center’s website or contact your local child care resource and referral agency.
- Check online. There are many available tools online that could help you scout through listings of child care agencies in your area. Some worth checking out include the following: childcareaware.org and Google directory.
Remember, finding your best options for affordable child care is really
all a matter of initiative and resourcefulness. One you’ve come up with a
shortlist of your options, make sure that you check them all out one at
a time, to find the best match for your child. Good luck!