It’s hardly a secret that raising a child can be an expensive prospect. And a big part of that boils down to the cost of child care.

Of course, the cost there can vary based on the number of children you have, the hours you need care, and your geographic location. But all told, you might end up spending a lot of money just to be able to hold down a job.

When my kids were young and I was paying hefty tuition bills at my local daycare center, I kind of assumed that things would get better as they got older. But instead of seeing my child care costs decline, the opposite actually happened.

When you don’t end up saving as you expect puts the average cost of a weekly daycare center at $321 for infants and $293 for toddlers. And although these are 2023 prices, they’re actually in line with what I was spending over a decade ago when my son was in daycare.

To be fair, I live in a somewhat high-cost area. So back then, the typical weekly cost of daycare was probably much less for a lot of people.

My daycare costs were so high that when I had twins when my son was three years old, I decided to stop working full-time and instead keep my kids at home and freelance when I could. For the following years, I cobbled together a child care setup that included babysitters and preschool with extended hours. By the time I added up all of my costs, I was paying a lot, though not the roughly $1,000 a week full-time daycare would’ve cost for three kids who weren’t yet old enough to go to school.

Back then, it was a tough situation because I was spending a lot on child care and my income was taking a beating. But I told myself it was only temporary.

Fast forward a good number of years, and I can tell you that things have actually gotten worse. That might seem like it doesn’t make sense, but I’m actually spending more on child care now than I did back then due to the exorbitant cost of summer camp.

The average cost of summer camp in the United States is around $87 a day, reports the American Camp Association. If you work full-time and therefore need five days of camp per week, you’re looking at $435, which is more than the cost of a week of daycare for a very young child. Such is the trap I’ve fallen into.

Now to cope with the expense of child care, my husband and I budget for it all year round and pay for camp on a payment plan over the course of 10 months. It’s important to do this, because coming up with all of that tuition money in a short time frame would be a burden.

How to cope with persistently high child care costs

Many people assume that child care gets less expensive once you’re past the toddler years. I’m here to unfortunately burst that bubble and tell you that may not be true. But I’m sharing this not to be a downer, but to help other parents save and prepare accordingly.

It’s also important to take advantage of some of the tax benefits you may be privy to as a parent who pays for child care. The Child and Dependent Care credit is one you may be eligible to claim on your taxes if you’re paying for care for children under the age of 13.

And if you have access to a flexible spending account through your workplace, there may be a child care component that’s available to you. Whether you’re single or married, you can contribute up to $5,000 to one of these accounts ($2,500 if married filing separately).

That money goes in tax free, so it at least exempts some of your earnings from taxes. If you contribute $5,000, for example, and you’re in the 22% tax bracket, you save yourself $1,100.

Even though I’m still spending a fortune on child care, the one thing that makes me feel a bit better is that the money is going toward camp, which my kids love. I’d rather spend the money on that than a daycare center.

But still, it’s hard juggling child care costs at any age. And it’s important that parents realize that those costs don’t necessarily go down with age.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Source link