Your children – the lights of your life -and also the biggest strain on your finances, right? Jokes aside, childcare is one of the biggest expenditures for many working parents, and it is something many struggle with. Luckily, there are options to help you save on costs.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

#1 Does your job allow you flexibility? Play around with your schedule!

If there are two parents, have you tried coordinating your work schedule with your spouse? If either or both of you can do it, try negotiating a schedule allowing you to take turns watching your children. Especially if you have shift work, each of you can work different shifts, so someone is always at home. If it’s possible, you could even try working 10-hour shifts which would give you an extra day per week at home. Many people now also have the option of working from home, which will give you a little more flexibility with your time. The important part is to play around with what works for the both of you!

Dual income households also have to look at whether it makes more sense for one parent to stay home. So do the math: see how much it’s costing you to go to work. Is childcare more expensive than your earnings? For example, if you’re spending $500 a month on childcare but only earning $1200, your earnings are now only $700. Minus the cost of car payments, insurance, food and utilities, your earnings are now only a couple hundred dollars. You may start to think quitting your job may actually work out better for the household. Talk it out with your spouse to find the most feasible option.

#2 Explore your childcare options

You can still get quality childcare without breaking the bank! Often, childcare facilities cost more because of branding, image, and reputation. It doesn’t necessarily mean they provide superior service. So look around, ask other parents, and visit facilities to get a sense of the experience you want for your child. There may be places that could surprise you with their quality. Try asking your current provider if they are willing to reduce prices – you never know before you ask! There may also be programs available to suit your budget and needs.

#3 It takes a village – reach out and work with other parents

The benefit of community is you can always lean on a fellow parent for support! If there’s a parent you trust in a similar situation, try exploring if the both of you can work out an arrangement. This could be hiring a nanny together, and splitting the costs between both parties.

If a parent works a different shift than you, offer to take care of their children while they’re away at work and vice versa. This could work out to be an ideal arrangement, especially if it doesn’t add to your costs!

Time to Get Creative

I know first-hand how frustrating it can be to find childcare that is affordable and reliable. Think outside the box, and see if you are able to find ways to save money. There are always solutions! Reach out to your boss to see if there are any childcare programs available. You can also talk to your professional accountant about tax deductions – save up to 15% during tax time! Sometimes you’ll be surprised what you’ll find when you start reaching out to those around you.

Have you found a creative solution to cut down on child care costs? If so, please share with our community in the comments below.

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