A huge financial challenge which many working couples face is the cost of child care. If the only reason that both parents are working is for the extra money the second income provides, you may want to take some time to see if the second income is really providing as much money to the family as you believe. If you are not sure, you can use this calculator to see if the second income is really worth the amount it brings in.
Of course, it’s also important to calculate the future income loss of that person being out of the work force if they are planning to re-enter the work force in the future. After doing all the calculations, if you feel that both people working is the right decision, you can still make some moves to reduce the cost of child care.
Flexible spending accounts: Take advantage of a child care flexible spending account if either of your two workplaces offers this option. This will allow you to pay for child care with pretax dollars.
Child care discounts: Contact your company’s personnel office to see if they have arrangements with any child care facilities where you can get a discount on the cost of child care.
Hire a nanny: If you have several friends who also have child care needs, you can hire a nanny to look after the kids which will allow each family to pay less, while the nanny will get a higher salary – a win-win situation for everyone.
Flex hours: If one or both of the company’s you work for allow flex hours, arrange your schedule so that your working hours overlap as little as possible. This should make it possible to have your kids in child care for half a day instead of a full day.
Telecommute: If you can telecommute instead of going into the office a certain number of days each week, you can reduce your overall need for child care. Telecommuting is becoming more common with advances in technology, so it is worthwhile to ask your boss if this is a possibility.
Community programs: More and more communities are offering child care options to help those who are working. Check with your local government office or community center to see what might be available.
School programs: Many school districts now offer pre-kindergarten courses for four-year-olds that are free or have a small charge. Enrolling your child into one of these courses will mean that you’ll only need to pay for a half day of child care instead of a full day.
Changing shifts: If your employment allows you to choose a shift when you work, you can arrange your shift so that both of your work schedules do not overlap. This can mean that you will not need any child care, or reduce the amount you need to a half day instead of a full day.
Invite parents: A growing trend is for couples to invite one of the child’s grandparents to come back and live with them to help take care of the child. This can be a win-win situation if the grandparent is widowed and lonely.
Change jobs: Depending on how easy it is for one of the income earners to find a new job, it can actually be much more financially rewarding to find a job that has good child care benefits and a lower pay. Good benefits can make a significant difference in the amount of money that the household keeps from a job. Again, use the calculator to determine which might be most beneficial.
With a little bit of creativity and the willingness to be flexible, there are a variety of ways to reduce the cost of child care. Taking the time to look beyond the salary of a job will go a long way to finding a work environment that will be the most financially beneficial for the entire family.