If you are a parent, you are probably looking for child care budget tips. There is a reason why parenthood is one of the life milestones that should consider your personal finances. Even if you think that it is mainly an emotional choice, you need to reconsider that notion.
Childcare in general can be a real financial burden. It really costs a lot to take care of your child. Until they are 18, you will be their primary source of financial aid. You need to spend for their basic needs like food, shelter, clothing and education. You should also invest in any extracurricular activities that they want to pursue. If anything, it will help them develop the skills that will allow them to grow up to be well-rounded individuals.
Study shows that child care costs are higher now
But at what exactly is the cost of raising a child? Well you should prepare your child care budget for some shocking news – as if you still don’t know.
According to the interactive data found on Money.CNN.com, parents of children born in 2012 should expect to spend an average of $241,080. The estimated amount that a parent will spend on a child every year is between $10,000 to $15,000. It is a steadily rising amount as you kid grows older. The biggest expense will be in housing and transportation, next is food, child care and education comes after, clothing and miscellaneous is fourth and the last is health care. It can be seen from the graph that in the child care and education part, the biggest expense typically happens during the first 5 years of the child’s life.
A study from PEWResearch.org revealed that the rising cost of daycare is probably one of the reasons why stay at home moms are rising. The study showed that 29% of mothers are now staying at home to take care of the kids. This data is true as of 2012. And who can really blame them for opting to stay with the kids?
The rising cost required for a child care budget is actually said to be higher than a college education. In Massachusetts, the annual child care cost that will be spent on an infant is at $16,430. It is followed by New York at $14,939 and Minnesota at $13,876. When the kids reach 4 years, New York takes the lead with $12,355, Massachusetts with $12,176 and Connecticut with $10,692. Once the child is old enough to go to school, New York still leads with $11,690, Hawaii comes second with $8,904 and Wisconsin with $7,893.
Basing it on the New York figures, since it is the state that is consistently in the top three spot, as the child grows, the child care expenses are lower. But even so, the costs are still alarmingly high. In fact, if you compare it to college tuition fees, it comes out to be much higher – at least, if you only factor in the state residents going to public schools. CollegeData.com revealed that students only spend $8,893 on tuition and fees in public colleges. Think about that.
This is why you need to seriously consider how you can adjust your child care budget so you can only provide the best for your child without breaking the bank.
How to revise your budget to fit your childcare needs
There are many ways to save on childcare costs but you need to know your options first. If you understand where you can cut back on costs, you can increase your net income and thus have more to spend when it comes to your child’s needs.
Here are some options that you may want to look into.
Check for child care benefits in your workplace.
Believe it or not, there are companies who will allow mothers to telecommute so they can take care of the kids while continuing to work. For instance, some accounting firms allow mothers to work on the accounting and bookkeeping needs of their clients. This allows them to save on their child care budget and at the same time, allowing the income to continue coming in.
There are also companies who provide subsidized child care facilities. This is offered at a lower cost to their employees. There is also the option to set up a dependent care flexible spending account that is sponsored by the company. You can contribute up to $2,500 of your gross income without it being taxed. At least, if you can give proof that it is used for qualified expenses only.
Check for additional tax breaks.
There are tax breaks that you can avail that are specific to being a parent. You can get a reimbursement of up to $3,000 for a single child every year. That can help cover some of the costs of child care. If you have 2 or more kids, that can be raised by up to $6,000. You need to check with your spouse as to which of you will claim a child on their tax return.
Even medical expenses for both parent and child can be deducted if it is above 7.5% of your gross income (adjusted).
Check for similar needs in your community.
You can also look at your community to see if you can share costs with neighbors, friends or work colleagues. For instance, you can share nannies. You can hire one to take care of a couple of kids – as long as they are of age. You can also set up a co-op that will allow you to shoulder responsibilities with other parents. This will really work well if you all work different schedules. You can use the time difference to look after each other’s kids.
Real stories of how families struggled with childcare costs
Of course, you don’t have to concentrate on saving from the expenses in your child care budget. You can also look at the categories in your household budget to help you cut back on costs. Here are a couple of real life stories that we got from the CNN website about how certain families made ends meet despite the high cost of raising a child.
Being wise about extracurricular activities. Kids need these activities for them to grow up to be well rounded individuals. What the Hicks family did was to limit the activities of their two boys to one each year.
Cutting back on expenses. The Holdsworth family cut back on their annual vacation to Las Vegas and opted to lower their retirement savings from 12% to 9%. They also traded their car for a more fuel efficient one.
Teaching the children to share in the burden. The Taylor family opted to help one another when it comes to the financial load at home. The head of the family, a single mom, encouraged her kids to work part time jobs. Her 16 year old son can contribute enough for the cable bill and her daughter (14 years old) takes babysitting gigs to help in the expenses.
Opting for staycations. The Zucker family still go on trips and expose their kids but they do all of this within New York city – which is where they live. It helps them do fun things together without it costing a lot.
Staying at home. For the Koelling family, the only option that they have in terms of cutting back on the child care budget is to have the mother stay at home with the kids. She plans to go back to work but only when the kids start going to school.
Keeping your costs low means you have to make sacrifices. The quality of care that you child deserves should not be compromised. There is always a way to help you survive the rising child care budget. You just have to know your best options.
Diana hates debt just as much as you do. She is a finance writer for National Debt Relief. She aims to provide the best information to win the battle against debt.