Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alternatives for Avoiding Childcare

Daycare is an expensive service. The average cost for an 18-month-old toddler to be in a Twin Cities licensed daycare setting is between $150 (home daycare) and $240 (daycare center) a week. That works out to a range of an average of $10,000 per year. It’s even more for infants under the age of 16 months.

The desire to spend more time with our children and save tens of thousands of dollars over a four to five year period, coupled with a constant increase in other living expenses, forces parents to balance two incomes with a flexible work schedule. You don’t have to have a partner who makes a ton of money to avoid the high costs of daycare. Here are a few examples of how Metro area two-income families have avoided the high cost of childcare. This article is meant to inspire you and help you think creatively about balancing family and work.

Example 1 – Kathy is a hospital nurse. Her husband Don works third shift for a government agency. Kathy works per diem, which means she only has to work 52 shifts a year, which averages one day a week. They have three daughters ranging in age from 20 months to six years. None of their children has ever been in daycare because Kathy and Don have always found a way for one of them to be home.

The downside: Sleep deprivation can be an issue for Kathy when she works overnight shifts and has to watch the children the next day. However, it happens infrequently. Don needs lots of sleep in the morning. Fortunately he sleeps well and doesn’t hear the children playing. When it snows, Don is gone two or three days at a time plowing. This lifestyle wouldn’t be a good fit for those of us who are not night owls.

The upside: Kathy and Don have probably saved over $80,000 in child care costs during the last six years. The family gets to spend lots of time together. Kathy remains
in her well-paying professional field of choice with a very flexible schedule, with the ability to increase her hours if needed.

Exampl e 2– Dave and Mallory have found a unique way to deal with the high cost of daycare. Both work for the same small charter airport. Mallory works the 6 AM – 2 PM shift while Dave stays home with their two-year-old son Corey. Dave starts his shift at the airport at 2 PM and
works until 11 PM. Corey rides to the airport with dad, and mom brings him home every day.

The downside: Dave and Mallory hardly have any time together during the week. Also, as an only child, Corey doesn’t have much social interaction with other children because he’s home with mom or dad all day. As a solution, Mallory takes Corey to the YMCA to play with other children while she works out two to three times a week.

The upside: Dave and Mallory are saving $8,000 to $12,000 each year by avoiding daycare. They have a set routine schedule and Corey gets to watch airplanes take off and land all the time.

Example 3 – Pam is a consultant for a Minnesota-based company that sells photo albums and scrapbooking supplies through direct sales. As a consultant, Pam picks her hours to demonstrate and sell products and run weekend scrapbooking retreats.

The downside:
Because Pam’s husband is a small business owner and is self-employed also, neither have access to employer-sponsored healthcare insurance. Pam takes care of this problem by substitute teaching two days a month at a local school. Her substitute teacher pay covers the premium each month for a family health insurance plan.

The upside: Pam makes just as much if not more money working as a consultant than she did working as a part time teacher, but has a lot more free time to spend with her husband and their daughters.

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