How Much Should Your Childcare Cost?

 

This was a guest post written by Stephanie Lynch, the founder of Howmuchisit.org – a cost-helping database.

From the stay-at-home nanny to a professional preschool, parents will find there an array of childcare options in their area.

If you decided you want to have someone else look over your children, you may be wondering what a fair price is and which option will work best for your lifestyle.

Breaking down the costs

First, we need to look at the options that are out there.  These popular options may include an after-school sitter, who may be a younger teenager, or an au pair, a professional who will basically live in your home while taking care of the kids and even the home, similar to a nanny.  Other options include a professional child care center, nanny or a private in-home daycare center.  Here’s what you can expect to pay for each option.

  1. After-School Sitter: Plan on spending at least $185 per week for 15 hours, which breaks down to three hours each school day.
  2. Au Pair: The average family will pay about $350 per week for their Au Pair, and this can go up in price if you have more children.
  3. Child Care Centers: Depending on the center you choose, a reputable, licensed child care center will charge about $200 per week for one child.  If you have more than one child, most centers will discount the price.
  4. In-Home Center: These childcare centers will often be in someone’s private home and this person will watch up to five children.  Keep in mind each state will have its own laws as to how many children one adult can watch, so be sure to look into this before committing to someone’s home.  Oftentimes, the in-home centers will be about 25% cheaper than a child care center since they don’t have so many overhead fees such as building maintenance, employees, etc.
  5. Nanny: Lastly, a nanny will come in as the most expensive option, costing about $550 per week.  A nanny will do everything from watching your child to cleaning your home while preparing dinner.  This price can widely vary since a nanny in New York City will charge much more than one in Iowa.

What affects the cost?

Take the numbers above as an average. This price can go up and down based on a few factors, which include the following:

  1. Classes: Child care centers that focus more on education may charge one that acts as a babysitting service.  A perfect example are the Montessori schools, which can be double or triple of a “babysitting” center that doesn’t focus as much on classes.  While most centers try to emphasize some sort of education, it always isn’t the case.
  2. Technology: Do you want state of the art technology such as webcams and an interactive dashboard showing your child’s progress?  The more you expect out of a center, the more you can pay.
  3. Certification: Babysitters and nannies who are CPR certified will always cost more than one who isn’t.  The same can be said about nannies who are bilingual as some parents want their nanny to teach their child another language.
  4. Geographical Area: I pointed it out above, but your geographical location plays a rather big role.  If you’re living in a big city, you’re going to pay more than someone who lives in a farm town of 5,000.

How to save on childcare

If you’re looking at the costs above and you’re in shock, you’re not alone.  In fact, childcare will be your largest cost before you child even starts school.  If you don’t feel as if you have an extra $800 laying around and you can’t quit your job, here are some cost saving tips you may want to think about applying:

  1. Don’t forget the tax break: The IRS offers a tax break to parents, which can reduce your taxable income and up to 35% of your child care costs may qualify.  Talk with your accountant to see how much you could possibly save.
  2. Check with your company: If you work with a company of any kind, see if they help with any childcare costs.  Some companies may have deals with local centers to help lower the costs.
  3. Shared child care: If you know of anyone else who has children in your age bracket, see if they want to share a babysitter.  Depending on your situation, this could save you a few hundred dollars.
  4. Explore nonprofits: The YMCA or a church may offer a preschool for a lot less than a corporate chain.  Even if you don’t attend, talk with these organizations to explore your options.  Since they don’t answer to shareholders or are looking for a profit, you can save some good money.
  5. Bargain: Use the Internet to your own advantage and explore websites such as Care.com or even local Facebook groups.  You may find an older grandmother who wants to watch children a few hours per week or a nanny who’s willing to bargain with you.

Childcare is expensive, there’s no arguing that one, and while the costs will vary across the United States, hopefully you have a better idea on how much it can cost you.  Explore your options, always do your research (remember cheap doesn’t mean good) and hopefully, you can find someone who suits your needs and budget.  Good luck!

 

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