Sometimes, you need help with childcare. Whether you are just looking for a babysitter for an evening out, or whether you need someone to watch your children while you are in school, the cost of childcare can become very expensive.

While you probably need to budget money to cover childcare costs, there are ways to reduce what you pay. Get a little creative, and plan ahead, and you should be able pay a little less for childcare:

Save Money on Childcare While You Work

If you need to work, chances are that you need someone to watch your kids. However, if you are paying a lot in childcare, it can reduce your disposable income for the month. It can help to re-consider your financial situation and determine whether or not it might be to your advantage to have one partner stay home. If your financial situation allows it, and one of you wants to stay home, you can save money on what you spend for childcare.

Another option is to find out about your work options. Some employers offer discounted daycare for employers. Even if you don’t have on-site daycare at your workplace, it’s possible to find out if your employer offers some sort of rebate, allowance for childcare. Some employers have partners, and you might get a special rate for working for a specific company. In the United States, you can find out if your employer offers a childcare flex spending account. This allows you to save money for childcare with pre-tax dollars.

Because telecommuting is becoming a more popular and accepted option, you might be able to save on childcare by working at home. Find out if your employer will let you work from home two or three days a week. That will reduce your need for childcare, and even save you money on commuting costs.

Your school-age children might have extracurricular activities that can help you reduce the need to have them in daycare. You can also check with your child’s school to find out whether or not there is an after-school program that is free or discounted. Many schools offer extended hours, or the option for your child to stay a little later so that you don’t have the same paid childcare requirements.

If all else fails, though, and you and your partner both need to work, try to coordinate your schedules so that you both aren’t working at the same time. If you can trade off most days, your children will be in childcare less of the time.

Save Money on Babysitting

If you want to go out, you will need to pay a babysitter in many cases. This can get expensive if you expect to spend regular time with your partner without the kids. If you are creative, though, there are ways to reduce what you pay in babysitting:

  • Go out in the afternoon: This works best if you have school-age children. This is actually what my husband and I do. Instead of going out at night, we go to lunch, or we go to an early matinee at 11:30 or 12:00. Not only do we not have to pay a sitter, since our son is in school, but the date itself costs less.
  • Join a babysitting coop: This was never something I was interested in, but a lot of couples in my neighborhood do this. You take turns having everyone’s kids at your house. If done right, you entertain the kids once a month, and get a date night the other three times a month, without the need to pay a sitter.
  • Barter: Another option is to barter. If you have a skill, you can exchange for a couple hours of babysitting. When my brother is staying with us, he usually watches our son once a week, since he gets to stay at our place.
  • Stay in: You don’t always have to go out. Consider putting the kids to bed a little earlier, and then having a picnic in the backyard. Or, plan for a special movie on the couch, and make something special to eat. Sometimes, we give our son macaroni and cheese, and then make something delicious and special for us after he’s gone to bed. It’s a fun way to make a special evening without needing to leave the house.

What are some of your ideas for saving money on childcare?



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.