Hard economic times have forced many households to make tough financial adjustments, and families in need of childcare services have thus been presented with a daunting challenge: how do you cut expenses while still maintaining a high level of childcare? For those who find themselves in that predicament, there is some good news: there are several ways to cut back on the expense of childcare without sacrificing the quality.
- Nanny Share – It’s becoming more common for dual income families to share the services of a single nanny. The cost of her service is also shared, and the nanny alternates care of the kids in one of the families’ homes. This allows both families to maintain the quality of care their kids receive, at half the cost.
- Split Shift Care – A family with school-age children can reduce their childcare expenses by paying a nanny to work only the hours that the kids are home from school, giving her the rest of the time off. The family could save 35-40 hours’ worth of salary each week.
- Alternative Compensation – A nanny’s salary can be structured so that non-monetary benefits are substituted for financial compensation. In other words, some nannies may be willing to accept less of a wage if their salary package includes a gym membership or some other desirable benefit. Some benefits, like contributions to health insurance premiums, can also save employers money because those contributions are tax-free.
- Telecommute – Working parents who have the option should consider working from home when they can. Since education and experience influence a nanny’s salary, opting for a less educated or experienced nanny when you’ll be in the home may reduce your childcare costs.
- Flexible Hours – Alternately, some companies offer flex time to their employees, allowing them to work non-traditional hours. This can allow parents to work a schedule that reduces the need for child care. Filling in the gaps with part-time nanny care, rather than having full-time coverage, can cut childcare costs significantly.
- Budget – Assign a strict budget to your household expenses and make sure your caregiver adheres to it. Buy food in bulk, use coupons wherever possible, and cut out expensive snacks in favor of much more affordable ones, like celery sticks and peanut butter.
- Live-in/Live-out – If you are presently employing a live-out nanny, you may want to re-think your options. A live-in arrangement might save you some money if you add in the accommodations to your nanny’s compensation at a lower salary.
- Reduce Duties – Families whose nannies are doing double duty as cooks or tutors or who have taken on other additional responsibilities may consider working up a new job description and contract. Sticking with essential child care duties could save you a bit in salary.
- Referrals – Some nanny placement agencies offer discounts or rebates when families who contract with them provide them with referrals. If you can find some families who need quality affordable child care, send them to your agency. Securing and screening a caregiver on your own can also save you costly fees associated with using a placement agency.
- Flex Accounts – Companies frequently offer their employees a flex account that provides the family an annual sum that they can apply toward any health care – or childcare – expenses they incur that aren’t covered under their insurance plans. Take advantage of those dollars and apply them toward paying your nanny.
As with any considerations regarding budget, saving money on childcare is a matter of deciding on priorities and cutting out the non-essentials. With a little imagination and a few adjustments, you may be able to find some much-needed breathing room in your finances a lot more readily than you initially thought.