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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.
In case you didn’t know, child care isn’t cheap.
If you’ve never had kids, or if you have your first little one on the way, you might not be thinking much about those expenses yet. But many parents will tell you they wish they had started preparing for child care costs much earlier.
In a recent survey by The Penny Hoarder of 2,000 parents nationwide, nearly 55% said child care was more expensive than they expected. And 63% said the cost of child care factored into their decision whether to have more than one child.
So what do you do? Where do you start? Is it even possible to find affordable child care?
If you have a young one on the way, or are planning to soon, here are some ways to save money on child care.
1. Start Your Research Now
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Obviously, your working schedule as parents will factor heavily into your child care costs. Stay-at-home parents will spend significantly less.
However, for single parents working full-time and in two-parent homes where both work, you’ll need to begin researching costs as soon as possible. And be aware of waiting lists. It’s not uncommon for popular day care providers in urban areas to have waitlists of anywhere from 12 to 24 months. Most places have fewer spots available for infants, so those waits can be even longer.
Once you get in, be ready for the sticker shock. Almost 44% of respondents in our survey spent at least $1,000 per month on child care, with only 17% spending under $500 per month.
Traditionally, a day care provider is less expensive than a nanny. But that gap is closing, according to a 2021 survey by Care.com. There’s now only a $14 a week difference between the cost of having two kids in day care versus hiring a nanny, that survey found.
A nanny share is also a newer trend in which multiple families use one nanny who watches all the kids at once or splits time between the two. This helps save money on the hourly costs by dividing the expenses.
So whether you’re looking at a day care facility or a nanny, now is the time to start researching your options.
2. Check With Your HR Department
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If this is your first child, you might be unaware of any benefits your employer offers related to child care.
With more companies going to remote work during 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the next new benefit to …….