14 ways to save money on child care

Raising kids is expensive enough -- paying people to take care of them while you're at work just makes it worse. Here are some great ways to help you save money and lower the costs of child care.

By Signe Langford

5 ways to save money on child care
©iStockphoto.com/Michael DeLeon
Depending on who you ask, it's estimated to cost between $170,000 and $230,000 to raise a child from infancy to the age of 18 -- with the early years costing the most due to the high price of child care. From live-in nannies to by-the-hour babysitters to full-time day care, whatever the choice, it's not going to be cheap.

Ready to lower your bills and save money? Here are some great ideas to help you spend less on child care.

1. Share a nanny
Two families, one nanny, one salary to pay. All this takes is a bit of coordination and a little luck. If you and a family you are close to -- personally and geographically -- want to share a nanny, some nannies are perfectly willing to divide their time between two houses.

2. Take your parental leave
Moms don't need much encouragement, but dads, check with your employer and the government about paternity leave -- and take all the time both of you are entitled to.

3. Ask extended family for help
The so-called traditional nuclear family -- Mom, Dad and kids -- is very much a modern Western world ideal. In most other parts of the world, the extended family household -- Mom, Dad and the kids plus grandparents, aunts and uncles -- is the norm.

Food blogger and mom of three Jill Chen is a fan. "It's worked out extremely well with having my mom live with us," she says. "In the morning she's up early making breakfast for them and braiding hair, and she also helps to prepare dinner. We also are fortunate to have a last-minute, built-in babysitter."

4. Live closer to family
OK, if living together is too close for comfort, what about moving a little closer to where the grandparents or aunts and uncles live? Yes, moving is a huge undertaking. Yes, it's expensive. But if you plan it right and perhaps make the move before baby comes, the move should pay for itself in free child care in no time.

5. Take turns babysitting with a friend
Consider looking after your friend's kids when she wants to go to yoga and she'll look after yours when you need some downtime, too. Trading kid-sitting hours is a great option with a work mate as well, assuming the timing and geography works.


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