How to Budget for Child Care
Is the high cost of child care holding you back from living your best life?
Are you hesitating to go back to work, grab tickets to a concert, or make reservations for a date night because you can’t stomach the budget for child care? You’re not the only one.
Child care costs increased by 41 percent nationwide due to the pandemic.
“It’s been a pretty amazing increase nationwide,” Chief Credit Analyst at LendingTree Matt Schulz said. “But Georgia, in particular, has seen a really big increase.”
The problem is that child care is a necessity (and often a much-needed luxury). Since it is something every parent needs, either regularly or just from time to time, we must budget for it.
The good news is that it is totally doable! Use these ten tips to help you budget for child care and get back to living your life kid-free (on occasion).
1. Track Your Spending
Let’s start at the very beginning. First, you need to know where you are financially and how your spending habits look.
Do you eat (or drink) your money? Use a budgeting app like Personal Capital to track your spending and investments, and stay on top of them. You’ll be surprised by how quickly those trips to Starbucks and Target add up.
2. Create a Budget and Stick to It
Once you have an idea of where you stand financially and how you spend your money, set a savings goal. How much money do you need for child care?
On the SitterTree app, for example, families offer rates starting around $17/hour plus a $20 booking fee (if you pay per booking versus purchasing a $30 Sitter Pass subscription).
Take these numbers into consideration and estimate how much money you need for child care. Then, create a budget that allows you to meet your savings goal.
3. Cut the Extras
If you are like most people, you may discover your budget doesn’t add up. You bring in less money than your budget seems to require. This is why it is essential to make cuts.
Child care is a must-have, so it’s time to cut some of the unnecessary spending. For example, do you really need to subscribe to five different streaming services? (No judgment!) Are you overspending on food delivery? Is the gym membership going unused?
Minor cuts like these add up to significant cost savings, which you can put towards your child care savings goal.
4. Ask for Child Care as a Gift
There is zero shame in asking for gift cards for child care – especially if you live far from family.
Most everyone understands that parents need a break now and then, and they are more than willing to help parents by providing child care if and when they can.
Apps like SitterTree make it easy for friends and family to purchase a gift card so you can easily book reliable, professional child care.
5. Make Saving for Child Care a Priority
There is a saying in the financial world that goes, “Pay yourself first.” This saying refers to putting money away for yourself first, such as for retirement, before you pay for anything else.
Use this same mentality to prioritize saving for child care. You can put child care in your budget, but you won’t necessarily meet your savings goal if you don't prioritize it.
If you think you may be tempted to avoid saving for child care, set up your account to transfer money to savings automatically.
Consider using a banking app such as Chime.
Forbes Financial Advisor explains, “The app’s […] automated savings program, Save When I Get Paid, allows members using direct deposit to automatically transfer up to 10% of every paycheck directly into their savings account.”
6. Save Your Coins
Did you know you can digitally save your coins? App's like Chime's Round Up feature are the new way to search the sofa.
Forbes Financial Advisor explains, “When the Round Up feature is enabled, Chime automatically rounds up purchases made on your Chime debit card to the nearest dollar and then transfers the difference from your spending account into your savings account.”
Note – There are plenty of other banking apps that provide round up and automatic transfers, so find the one that works best for you.
7. Eat Out Less
This one hurts. I love the experience of someone else preparing dinner for my family - and doing the dishes!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The average annual expenditure on groceries in the U.S. is $4,464 per person, while dining out runs Americans an average of $3,459.” $3,459 can cover a lot of child care for date nights.
Plus, restaurants mark food up around 60%. So it is significantly cheaper to eat at home.
8. Take Advantage of Free Activities
There are so many fun things to do with kids, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend money every weekend. In addition to the pricey tourist traps, there are tons of free places to take kids and events to enjoy.
9. Refer Friends - Get Rewarded
Don't under estimate the rewards game. You get rewards at Chick-Fil-A and AMEX. Apps like SitterTree offer users the opportunity to earn mega rewards for referring friends.
If you've enjoyed the service, take 5-10 minutes each week to share your referral link and earn enough rewards for your next night out!