The affordability and availability of childcare remains a major issue in Australia. Costs have risen dramatically in recent years, increasing more than 44% between 2009 and 2014 alone. The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (PDF) suggests that the average cost of childcare has risen to $75 dollars a day, up from $30 in 2003.
While successive federal governments have increased the amount of assistance available for childcare, it is still quite expensive, with most families paying between $2,000 to $6,500 per year for a single childcare placement.
Families with high incomes can pay even more if they pass the income threshold for government assistance. Some families have to bare the entire cost of their childcare — costing as much as $35,000 per year.
Fortunately, there are some simple techniques you can employ to decrease childcare costs! Here are five of the best.
#1 — Get your friends and family involved
The simplest way to reduce childcare costs is to reduce the time that your child spends in a childcare centre. Consider the following approaches:
- Ask your parents if they can babysit your children 1 day per week
Grandparents love to spend time with their grandchildren. Instead of popping over on a weekend, ask them if they are willing to look after your children 1 day each week. It can be a very rewarding arrangement for both the grandparents and their grandchildren.
- Swap childcare services with friends and family members
If you are working part time and have a friend or family member in the same situation, ask them to swap childcare services. You could look after their child one day a week and they can look after yours one day a week.
- Ask younger family members if you can pay them to babysit
Many friends and family members would be happy to babysit for one or two days a week for a small fee. Having a babysitter available also gives you more flexibility when it comes to childcare.
#2 — Employ a nanny or au pair
If your family obtains limited assistance from the government or you are located in an area with limited childcare centres, it may be worth considering a nanny or au pair. You will have a much more flexible and convenient arrangement, where you can dictate how much assistance you require. You can choose a carer who is ideally suited for your children.
The difficulty with using a nanny of au pair is locating one that is trustworthy, reliable, and professional. Here are a few tips for finding a suitable great nanny or au pair:
- Only use experienced nannies or au pairs with great references
Look for experienced carers who have excellent references. Call each reference yourself and ask them detailed question about the carer’s job performance.
- Use specialist websites to locate the perfect nanny or au pair
There are a variety of websites which let you browse nannies and au pairs. Using these websites can help you quickly identify carers with the right experience, skills, qualifications, and availability.
- Perform a police check of all applicants
It is important to check the suitability of all candidates with a police check. This will tell you if the nanny or au pair has had a checkered past. A police check will also provide you with some information about their reliability and suitability for the position. It is simple to perform a police check online, with many websites offering the service.
#3 — Obtain all of the government and employer assistance available
The types of financial assistance available for childcare can change over time. As you change employers you may gain or lose access to employer-based assistance packages. As your income changes, you may gain or lose access to government assistance. If your employment situation changes, talk to the human resources department to understand how it may affect your childcare arrangements.
Governments are also tweaking childcare assistance programs fairly often. The next major change is occurring in July 2017, when the federal government introduces the Child Care Subsidy (CCS). This program will replace some existing schemes, including the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate.
The new program changes the size of payments, how many hours of assistance parents can claim, and much more. It also introduces a Nanny Pilot Programme, where parents who employ a nanny can receive additional assistance. You can read an article here to understand how these changes may affect you.
#4 — Choose childcare centres that offer more benefits
The level of assistance provided by childcare providers can vary greatly. For example, some childcare centres will provide all meals for your children, while others expect parents to cover that cost. Some childcare centres have strict rules about parents who turn up late when picking up a child, while others are more forgiving. Some childcare centres have special activities and outings that must be paid for by the parent. Make sure you include all financial aspects when comparing childcare centres.
#5 — Save money on other aspects of your child’s life
You can reduce other expenses and put that money towards childcare costs. Here are a few simple suggestions:
- Buy food in bulk and prepare meals in advance
- Purchase clothes from other mothers with children who have grown out of them
- Cook more often instead of taking your children to fast food restaurants
- Share childcare transport costs with other families
- Limit spending on toys — do they really need 10 teddy bears?
I hope you enjoyed reading 5 Ways To Save Money On Childcare! By following these tips, you will be able to reduce your childcare costs and relieve some financial pressure.