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Surviving Double Daycare

Group of young children sitting listening to teacher read

We all know that childcare is expensive. But did you know that daycare has become nearly as expensive as college tuition?

The national average for a day care center is $9,5891 and the cost of in-state tuition at a public university averages $9,9702.

No wonder I’ve felt so broke for the last few years – I’ve essentially been putting two children through college while striving to pay off debt, buy a new home, save money, and afford a fancy latte every once in a while.

If you have more than one child, paying for daycare is a daunting task unless you are independently wealthy or a lottery-winner. However, I’m here to tell you – it can be done! As I approach my last month of double-daycare (hello, public kindergarten!) I am thrilled at the prospect of decreasing the financial burden of childcare.

Are you looking for ways to survive double daycare? Here are a few tips that may help manage the weight of childcare costs while managing your everyday expenses as well.

1. Find out if your employer has a childcare flexible spending account (FSA).

Daycare payments take a huge chunk out of your paycheck and an FSA allows you to set aside a portion of your paychecks tax-free to pay for dependent care expenses. This saves you money because you avoid paying taxes on this sum.

2. Talk to your financial advisor about tax deductions.

Disclaimer: I’m not a financial expert or money wiz. But you should work with your own financial expert because you may be eligible for tax deductions based on your hefty childcare expenses. There are deductions available and your accountant or advisor can help you determine their benefits and your eligibility.

3. Consider how close in age your children are.

While most centers offer a “discount” for enrolling siblings, I can personally attest that it is minimal. Waiting a few years between children will allow you to plan, save and perhaps have a shorter stint of double-daycare duty.

4. Make yourself stick to a budget.

This is my least favorite tip because it forces me to confront my online shopping addiction – but it works! Creating a budget is one of the most fundamental ways to manage your money and keep you afloat during your double-daycare days. Check out Ameris Bank’s budget worksheet to get started.

5. Ask your childcare center for ideas.

Many centers offer discounts for paying for the year up front. Other centers may allow weekly payments versus monthly payments, which helps spread the expense. Ask your daycare if they have options to help.

6. Evaluate your credit cards.

If you must incur debt due to the Godzilla-like daycare bills coming your way, be smart about your credit cards. Consider a card that has a longer introductory rate or options for paying down your other credit card balances faster.

7. Stay positive.

Remember that the daycare days are a short season of life. They will eventually pass, and you will certainly feel like you’ve received a pay raise!

There is nothing more important than the health, safety and education of our children. So, finding a quality childcare center is worth the hefty tuition. Hopefully these tips will help as you survive your own double-daycare journey.

By: Mandi Gilbert, Double-Daycare Survivor

Mandi Gilbert is the brand and advertising strategist at Ameris Bank. She lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband, James, and their two young sons. She enjoys family time, creative writing, relaxing walks, and indulging in her guilty pleasure, reality tv.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.