It’s Friday...payday! You receive your paycheck, but before you can think about all the things you’d like to buy, you have to fork almost all of it over for child care. Let’s face it: having someone watch your child can cost a pretty penny. Fortunately, there are ways to creatively cover child care so that you can still hang on to some of your earnings. Here’s how.
Speak with your company
The very first step you should take is to contact your company. Speak with your HR department to find out if they offer any child-care reimbursements. You should also inquire about a Flexible Spending Account, which allows you to set aside money (up to $5,000 before taxes) to cover child care. It covers day care, school, even camp costs. And if neither of these are offered by your company, well, it’s time to find another work-at-home job that does! But seriously, you can (and should) apply for the child-care tax credit. This credit will allow you to claim $3,000 in expenses, with a cap of $6,000 per family.
Start a parenting collective
Chances are, if you’re struggling with kid care, so are some of your friends, too. Get together with some of them to discuss what issues they’re also facing. Map out who needs kid coverage when, and see about creating a schedule among your girlfriends to help you all get the child care you need without having to spend any money at all.
While a nanny might be way out of your price range, an au pair may not be. An au pair is a student from another country who, in exchange for room, board, and a small stipend, will live with you and help you take care of your children. This can be a great fit for a working mom who telecommutes and has young children. It provides the best of both worlds; you’ll be able to work at home and still have your baby at home with you.