The cost of childcare has become undeniably overwhelming for many families. Parents must have access to affordable childcare options that allow families to go to work while ensuring their children have excellent care in their absence. With an average cost of just over $1,300 per month as of 2021, families with children in the infant to toddler age range must pay nearly $16,000 each year in childcare costs.
While AuPairCare aims to offer au pair services for every family, truly understanding how to save on childcare, including the cost of an au pair, is pertinent to maintaining a healthy, working budget. This blog will explain the rising cost of childcare and how opting for an au pair is a perfect solution for a family looking for quality, live-in childcare.
The Average Cost of Childcare
There's no denying that parents face an uphill battle regarding childcare costs. Depending on what form of care you rely on, your monthly childcare costs can easily rival what you pay for your rent or mortgage. This is clear to see when you take into consideration the above average of $1,300 per month for childcare while the median mortgage cost in 2021 was just above that at $1,672 per month.
One of the significant contributors to the current uptick in childcare costs boils down to limited availability. Still feeling the effects of a global pandemic that sent families everywhere into financial trouble and forced many daycares and private childcare providers to close, the childcare industry simply doesn't have the space for all the parents and children who require those services.
As you likely know, prices increase when consumer demand increases. In the United States, parents can expect to pay anywhere from ten to twenty percent of their household income yearly for childcare.
How do these rising costs impact the household overall? Let's take a closer look.
The Household Impact of Childcare Expenses
There's definite concern on behalf of many families due to childcare costs. Rising costs in one area of the household budget often affect others. To make up for it, families are sacrificing in other areas, including, but not limited to common budgeting concerns such as:
Food and dining out;
Travel and vacations;
However, many families with young children and without good, affordable childcare options must also sacrifice much more. From taking on additional jobs to leaving the workforce entirely to stay home with the little ones, childcare costs force some families to make major decisions. To make matters worse, many of the top childcare facilities have months–or even years–long waiting lists full of families all looking to get into the daycare or program of their choice.
Before leaving a career you love, or moving to a state that offers lower daycare fees, learning how to save on childcare costs is essential. The following suggestions can potentially lower the income you spend on childcare every month, allowing a little more wiggle room into your budget!
How to Save on Childcare Costs
Before we get into the details of this list, it's vital to point out that no two families, or circumstances, are the same. What works for some may not work for others, and it's always imperative that you take the path that will lead you and your family closer to your goals, whatever those might be.
Investigate Employer Care Benefits
Many employers offer assistance for employees concerning childcare, including fully or partially funding care required during working hours or paid family leave. If your employer doesn't currently offer financial help, it never hurts to ask them.
Companies worldwide have become more perceptive to the idea of helping with or providing childcare options for their employees. The changes demanded by the pandemic offered new views on the workforce, including how employees are more successful when they have a solid work-life balance. Childcare options are a massive component of the "life" part of that concept, causing many employers to prioritize convenience and childcare for their employees. The bottom line? If you have a career you don't want to leave, but a lack of affordable childcare forces you in that direction, discuss it with your employer.
Know Your Budget
Every budget is different, so determining what you can afford for daycare is crucial to the cutting childcare costs puzzle. Once you know what you can afford, you can choose the best option for your family.
You can begin by researching the rates in your area, which you'll probably find to vary from town to town and between establishments. For example, a private daycare could easily charge more or less than a public operation or community-funded nursery school. You can also investigate babysitters, nannies, and au pair options for your little ones. Remember, the goal isn't the lowest priced care, per se, but instead, focus on the best care for your budget.
Tax Credits and Breaks
When you put your caregiver "in the books," you can also claim those payments on your taxes. When you itemize childcare-related expenses on your federal return, you should see breaks and credits make their way into your tax refund.
For some reason, typically convenience, the desire to finish tax returns quickly, or being unaware of potential credits, many parents don't take advantage of the tax breaks to which they're entitled. You don't have to pay a professional to execute your tax return to reveal the possible childcare credits available to you, though it does help.
Platforms like TurboTax can assist in identifying such credits, but it's up to you to ensure you file your information accurately.
Programs and Subsidies
When discussing saving on childcare, it always helps to bring your research skills to the table. Looking into childcare subsidies and programs your family may qualify for is a fantastic way to cut costs. These programs often depend on a few factors, including household income and available employee benefits. Your state should have a comprehensive list of resources for you to investigate.
Live-In Childcare Options
Many families are turning to live-in au pairs as an alternative to traditional daycare. Unlike other childcare options, a live-in au pair can provide around-the-clock care and become part of the family. This allows parents to have more flexibility in their work schedules while providing a safe environment for their children. Au pairs also often come with experience and training that can be hard to find elsewhere. Live-in au pairs can not only help with childcare but may also offer light housekeeping duties or even language tutoring, depending on the individual's qualifications. As such, it is no surprise that many families are opting for this unique solution when it comes to childcare needs.
In the end, there are a variety of options for cutting childcare costs. Researching tax credits and subsidies can help you save money right away while looking into au pairs and live-in childcare providers may be a longer-term solution. No matter what you decide, taking the time to research the best options for your family can help you save money in the long run.
Saving On Childcare
It takes a village to raise a child. This statement isn't so much a cliche as it is a reality. Parents need help with their little ones and deserve affordable, budget-friendly, high-quality childcare.
While saving on childcare isn't always easy, there are many ways you can begin to prepare for, or cut, childcare costs. Contact the AuPairCare team today for more information regarding our live-in childcare programs and how we can best fit into your life.