Budgeting for Child Care
Parenting can take a big chunk out of your budget, as things like food, clothing, and child care are necessities. According to MSN Money, parents spend $225 to $350 for food, $50 to $75 for clothing, and $300 to $1250 for child care on a monthly basis for each child.
To save money, consider these tips:
- Pack brown-bag lunches.
- Grocery shop alone and after eating.
- Buy snacks in bulk and repackage them in plastic bags.
- Grow some of your own food.
- Shop at discount stores, thrift shops and resale or consignment stores.
- Buy clothes out-of-season, when the highest discounts are applied to prices.
- Shop online so it's easier to make comparisons.
- Use the child and dependent care credit.
- Ask your employer about flexible-spending accounts, which will allow you to save on taxes by paying child care costs with pretax dollars.
- Telecommute, job-share or work flexible hours to reduce time away from home.
- If your school district offers a free half-day pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds or a free full-day kindergarten, enroll your child.
The Family Budget Calculator
The Economic Policy Institute has published a Family Budget Calculator. This calculator allows you to determine the income needed for particular types of families to make ends meet. Simply select from one of six family types, pick a state, and then select a community to see how much that family is likely to need for housing, food, child care, etc.