By Katie Herrick Bugbee, Senior Managing Editor and Global Parenting Expert, Care.com
The cost of child care is what? That was pretty much my reaction when pregnant with my first child. We toured day care centers early to get our name on wait lists. We had our favorites with baby yoga and curriculums I could only dream of. And then I realized the annual fee was more than my post-tax salary.
So then we lowered our expectations. No baby yoga. Just loving people in a day care center with good reviews. At the end of each week, I still had money in my pocket.
The cost of care in this country is no joke — in certain regions (I live in Boston). In fact, national data shows care as the biggest budget item for families — more than their housing expenses — and takes up 18 percent of the family’s budget.
I wasn’t prepared, but now that I’m expecting again (my third), here’s what I learned. Check out this cost of child care infographic for more information and tips.
The good news is there are a number of options out there to lighten the financial load. Here are three we recommend utilizing.
In some cases, paying for child care just means moving items around in the budget and putting the extraneous expenses on hold for a bit. In others, it may feel more like you’re paying to work than working for pay. But the price of staying in the workforce can also work for you — especially in a career with good growth potential. Don’t discount the fact you’re also contributing to health care benefits and (hopefully) to your 401K.
These decisions are never easy and are incredibly personal for every family. Armed with this information, you’ll be well on your way toward preparing for this thrilling, scary, exciting new chapter. At least more than I was.
Katie Bugbee is the senior managing editor and resident parenting expert of Care.com. A busy working mother of two, she's an expert on many parenting dilemmas, from appeasing picky eaters to finding the perfect babysitter.
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