With so many parents living in homes where the couple works outside the home, childcare has become a huge part of many budgets. While no one wants to leave their children in the care of a less lucrative care provider, many people are looking for ways to save money on childcare expenses. Here are some hacks to consider if you’re looking for ways to save money on childcare.
Use FSA Affiliate Care
The Flexible Care Affiliate Spending Account (FSA) is one of the best childcare hacks. FSA dependent care is similar to a health savings account. Both are accounts that are usually offered as employee benefits. Dependent Care FSA allows you to withdraw money from each paycheck and you do not have to pay tax on it.
You can then use this money to pay for childcare throughout the year. There are a variety of different types of childcare that are eligible to be paid for with DCFSA money, so be sure to check the rules and regulations for your account. By paying for childcare in pre-tax dollars, you’ll have savings of 20-30% or more compared to paying with after-tax money.
Another thing you want to be aware of with the Dependent Care FSA is that many accounts “use it or lose it” each year. So you need to be conservative about how much money you put into the account, and make sure that you use all of your money each calendar year.
Work from home or set your schedule
Another potential childcare hack involves how flexible your schedule is. Of course this will depend on your employer and your employment situation, but if you have flexibility in your schedule, it is possible that you will be able to arrange things to provide in childcare. This is especially true if your spouse or partner also has a flexible schedule.
It is unlikely that you will be able to adjust your schedule so that you can work full time at home and take care of the children full time, especially if your children are younger. Obviously, this means that both your work and your home life are likely to suffer. But you may be able to arrange things so that you can barter with your spouse to reduce the number of days/hours you need to take care of the children.
One idea might be to trade in the days you work from home for being in the office. Or, if you have flexibility in your hours, you can work early in the morning with your spouse to do the babysitting in the morning to barter later in the day. Try different options to see if any of these options work well for your family. Even one day a week where you can save on childcare is 20% savings.
Consider a nanny share
If you are more interested in working with a nanny but feel that it is too expensive, having a nanny involved can be a great option for your family. Sharing a nanny with neighbors or friends can be a good way to take advantage of the benefits of having a nanny including a more flexible schedule and more individual attention to your child while also lowering the cost.
Find family and friends
Another option is to find family and friends who may be able to help. If grandparents live in the area, they may be an option, either as full-time caregivers or as part of your overall childcare strategy. Again, this is something that being able to be a little flexible can help with. Another option to consider is making a swap arrangement with another family where you can exchange childcare for another service.
Is it worth it?
Finally, take a look at the file donation And see if going into a single-income family is at all possible for your unique situation. Of course, it won’t be the case in many situations, but there are hidden expenses of a double income life that you might not even think of. If you are in a home situation where one partner is making much more profit than the other, it may make sense for the second partner to stay at home.
Of course, you’ll almost completely eliminate childcare expenses if a partner stays at home, but with someone at home full time, you can also significantly reduce your dining budget. Having someone at home will likely mean you’ll be able to shop more carefully and eat less food outside.
Taxes are another big expense that you can reduce by reducing your income to a single income. With income two, you not only pay taxes on your income, but by increasing your total household income, you are likely to run into a higher tax bracket overall. It may not be possible, but if there is an interest in one spouse staying at home, run the numbers and see if it makes sense for you.
For families, childcare is one of the biggest expenditures of your family budget. But if you’re flexible and think a little outside the box, you can save some of these costs. If your employer offers it, find a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account to pay for some childcare expenses in pre-tax dollars. And if you have a job where you sometimes work from home, see if you can arrange your schedule to help lower childcare costs.
Dan Miller (74 posts)
Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families travel free/cheap. His main base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel around the world as much as possible with his wife and six children.