5 Simple Ways to Prepare Your Wallet for Those Big Daycare Expenses
Children are a blessing, but they can be expensive to raise, especially if you need to put them in daycare.
Daycare is an investment in your child’s life. Finding a childcare provider you know, like, and trust can be a challenging process. Tack on the high expense of childcare, and it is no wonder you feel nervous and exhausted before you even begin.
But the good news? With some intentional planning, you can prepare yourself financially for daycare expenses.
What To Consider When Searching For The Right Daycare
I remember the million questions and what-ifs that circled my mind during our daycare search for our first child. Naturally, you want someone who will provide consistency for your child when they are not with you. But at the same time, you also want to pay a rate for their services that is realistic for your wallet.
As you prepare for daycare expenses, here are some things to consider:
- Home or Center Care – Both care options have their pros and cons and come with different price tags. It’s worth researching both as you consider what you’re looking for in daycare. Some variables may involve hours of operation, meals, screen time and interactive activities.
- Deposit Fee – Decide what criteria both parties need to meet before you pay a deposit. Deposits tend to be non-refundable fees to put your child on the waiting list or guarantee them an open spot.
- Monthly vs Weekly Fee – Some daycares require payment for the entire month in advance, while others will accept a weekly payment. Both payment schedules have their pros and cons. Knowing how and when you’ll have to pay will help you plan.
- Discounts – Some daycare providers offer a sibling discount. Even if it doesn’t seem like much, it adds up over time! Other providers may offer a discount if they receive payment in cash versus a check. It can’t hurt to ask what discounts are available.
- Supplies – Many daycare providers ask parents to provide necessary supplies for their child, like breastmilk/formula, diapers/training pants, wipes, an extra change of clothes, crib/play yard bedding, lunch from home, etc. Understanding what supplies you’ll need to provide will help you prepare your budget.
How to Prepare Your Wallet for Daycare
Once you’ve decided what daycare your child(ren) will attend, it’s time to prepare for this new regular expense. Here are five simple ways you can get started:
- Stock up on supplies. As the parent or guardian, you’ll likely be responsible for providing daycare with some supplies.
- If you’re expecting, you can ask for duplicates on your registry to help with this.
- Accept hand-me-downs and shop at thrift stores for those extra clothes and crib sheets. Kids grow fast, and clothes and bedding can stain easily. So avoid the department store prices as much as possible.
- Consider buying certain things in bulk so you have a stash at home and at daycare. Sam’s Club and Costco have been my go-to for diapers and wipes for years.
- Treat daycare expenses as a non-negotiable. Like your housing expenses, daycare comes before non-essentials. Daycare providers work hard; after all, you are paying them to take care of your bundle of joy. Also, remember the contract you signed promising you would pay on time. Like everyone else, daycare providers also like receiving their paychecks on payday.
- Save up as early as possible. You can get ahead and start a fund for daycare fees long before your child even starts at daycare. If you live in an area where finding an open spot is a game of cat and mouse, consider setting aside a budget for deposit fees, so you join more than one waiting list.
We paid a $90 non-refundable deposit fee to add our unborn baby to the waiting list at a phenomenal childcare center. It was an impulse decision because newborn care was hard to find, and I was worried we wouldn’t have another option. We ended up going a different route and forfeiting the $90. I’ve never given up so much money before with nothing to show for it. But, I don’t regret the different direction we went in.
- Ask your employer about daycare-related benefits. Your employer may offer a dependent care flexible spending account that allows you to use pre-tax money to pay for childcare. You can typically sign up for these during open enrollment or update your benefits selections after a birth or adoption. Some employers even have services to help you locate daycare options in your area.
- Plan for annual rate increases. Daycare providers do raise their rates from time to time. These often happen with advance notice, so you can shop around and take your child elsewhere if you want. If you decide to stay, you’ll have to adjust.
The good news is: Childcare rates tend to decrease with age, so what you pay for a toddler is generally less than what you paid when they were an infant.
Remember, every household is unique. You may have other variables to consider for you and your family in this daycare decision-making process. If you’re a single parent, relying on child support or experiencing income changes, funding daycare can be more challenging for you. If you need additional support to prepare for daycare expenses, consider meeting with a financial coach who can help you assess your situation and find solutions that work for you. You can book a free coach match session with The Accountable Network] here →
About the Author
Rachel Collins is a financial coach on a mission to help others use their money so they can thrive in all areas of life. She loves working with women who feel intimidated, confused and downright overwhelmed by money become confident with making money decisions in their personal life and in their businesses. When she’s not coaching, Rachel is either volunteering at church, out for a run, playing in the dirt in her garden, or being silly with her three children.
You can follow her on Facebook @MoneyCoachRachel
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