How do I pay for child care?
If you are like many working people with children, you commonly pay for your child-care costs out of current cash flow, including income from salaries, tips, investments, and other sources. Child care is part of your regular monthly expenses and generally cannot be avoided. However, some methods are available to you that may help save on taxes and reduce costs. For instance, your employer may include a designated flexible spending account (FSA) in its employee benefits package. You contribute pretax dollars, deducted from your paycheck, to a fund earmarked for dependent care expenses. You pay your day-care bills and are later reimbursed out of your tax-free FSA.
You and your spouse can more easily meet your child-care expenses by reducing costs. Some child-care providers allow parents to volunteer their services in exchange for a lower bill. Or, if possible, you and your spouse can work alternate work schedules so that at least one of you is home with your child for all or part of the day. This will allow you to pay for part-time day care or to fully avoid such costs. Other alternatives include job sharing, where you and another person fill one full-time job, allowing more free time to spend at home; telecommuting, where you work some days at home; or a compressed work week, where you work four 10-hour shifts during the week and spend the fifth day at home. You might also consider working part-time for a few years until your child is in school. If you work part-time, you could try to create a child-care swap with other neighbors who work part-time. In addition, some companies provide up to three months of paid parental leave time, so take full advantage if this is available to you.