The Cost of Daycare: What Do You Spend?

The Cost of DaycareA couple of months ago on Corporette, we discussed how much you should spend on housing costs, and today we’re going to talk about something that often looms just as large in the minds of working moms: the cost of daycare. Lately, the news seems to be full of articles about the cost of daycare (e.g., “U.S. Parents Are Sweating And Hustling To Pay For Child Care,” NPR), so we thought this would be a great time for a discussion. How much are you spending on daycare? Is the cost of daycare more than you expected?

For a quick review, the recent Corporette post covered the 50/20/30 rule for budgeting, which recommends that you spend no more than 50% of your take-home pay on fixed costs, use at least 20% for saving money and reaching your financial goals, and spend no more than 30% of flexible costs. How does the cost of daycare fit into the ratio? In the comments on the post, several readers shared their childcare numbers, and their responses ranged from 10% of their take-home pay to 30% (for a child with special needs). The average childcare spending among readers who shared information was about 18%.

The 2016 Cost of Care survey found some striking statistics:

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Daycare Tips for Working Moms

Daycare tips for working momsHere’s a fun topic: what are your best daycare tips for working moms? What are the things that only friends will tell you about daycare (such as dress your child as cute as possible); what have you learned the hard way by the way of daycare tips?

When readers were discussing baby clothing and daycare a while ago (I think in the post where I noted that one of my mom efficiency tricks is to dress my babies in footed sleepers for the first year), a trend emerged. Among working moms who send their kiddos to daycare, a lot of people noted that they purposely dressed their child cutely (headbands! overalls! tiny outfits!) for daycare, in part because they hoped the clothes would help give the child a personality for daycare workers to relate to. A lot of commenters reacted against this idea that you have to spend MORE money, time, and effort at a time in your life when none of those things is really in ready supply — but it makes sense to me.

This is also the kind of thing that isn’t going to be in a welcome packet from your daycare — only passed down among friends and other women. So I thought we’d discuss today — what are your best tips for daycare (other than regarding daycare waiting lists)?

Readers, Share YOUR Daycare Tips for Working Moms!

Some specific questions for readers:

  • What’s the #1 thing you appreciated about your daycare after you were in it — but didn’t know to look for during the interview process?
  • What’s the best tip you’ve gotten from another mom about daycare?
  • What are your specific tips for: the infant room, the toddler room, the preschool room?

All right ladies, over to you — what are your best daycare tips for working moms? (that no one else will tell parents)?

Psst: here are our general thoughts on pros and cons for different kinds of childcare.

Pictured: Family Portrait, originally uploaded to Flickr by Arturo Sotillo.daycare tips for working parents


Getting Your Accounts in Order… Before You Go Into Labor

accounts-in-order-for-laborDid you feel the need to get your accounts in order before you gave birth? For example, if you’re the primary money manager in your relationship, did you do anything special before labor to prepare your partner should he or she need to take over the money management? (Sorry for your dark thought for the day! Of course death or incapacitation related to pregnancy is still really rare, but pregnancy is certainly a big deal, healthwise. Although Scientific American did just look into why U.S. maternal mortality rates have doubled, and quoted a CDC official who classified it as “almost certainly not a real increase,” just a result of better data.) I pondered this a lot while I was pregnant, and didn’t see too much else on this topic, so I thought it might be interesting to discuss.

(Pictured: Kate Spade New York ‘Cedar Street – Floral Lacey’ Zip Around Wallet, was $178, now $120 as part of the big Nordstrom Clearance sale.)

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What Are the Best Gifts for Teachers?

Teacher Gifts | CorporetteMomsIt’s (somehow) that time again: the end of the school year, and that means it’s time to find gifts for your kids’ teachers. But what sort of present should you give? An edible gift? A gift card for Starbucks, or Amazon, or Target? A gift card to buy classroom supplies? A handmade present from your child? It can be a challenge to find the holy grail of gifts, something that is:

  • thoughtful and meaningful
  • not too cheap-looking, or too expensive
  • likely to be appreciated by the teacher
  • not something he or she will also get from a bunch of your kid’s classmates
  • not destined to end up as a Pinterest Fail (beware, fellow moms; beware the Pinterest rabbit-hole)

Oh yes, and it would also be nice if this perfect gift were available through Amazon Prime. (Two-day shipping, I love you.) As a busy working mom, it can be hard to even find the time to think about this stuff, much less go out and actually shop for gifts.

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Kid Money: 529s, Savings Accounts, and More

529 tipsLadies, have you opened a 529 savings account for your child yet — or did you opt for a savings account or investment account? What are your best tips for 529 accounts and kid saving? In general, what do you do with the monetary gifts your children receive from relatives? Do you set aside any non-tax advantaged money regularly for your children — or have you prioritized non-tax advantaged savings for yourself above tax-advantaged savings for college? 

For my $.02, we have a 529 account for each son, but neither has any other kind of savings account. When Jack was born, I did my best to learn from the mistakes of my 20s, when I sat on money because I didn’t really appreciate the power of compound interest, and always felt like I didn’t “know enough” to invest. So after he was born, I gave myself explicit permission to not know a lot about 529s — I didn’t research which 529 too much (I chose New York State because you can deduct 529 contributions from your income, up to a $10K max per year per couple), and I didn’t research which funds too much (Aggressive! Done.) We set up an automatic contribution from one of our savings accounts — it was all very easy to do online.

Our automatic contribution wasn’t huge — it wouldn’t even get us close to the max — but it did represent two decisions. First, it represented a desire to put ANYTHING in there — I really believed then (and now) that whatever we can do, even if it was only $20 a month, would make a difference because of compound interest. Second, it represented a priority shift. I read an interesting article a while ago that tax-advantaged savings was the thing to focus on — so the 529 accounts rank below our 401Ks and IRAs, but above other, non-tax advantaged savings. In fact, the amount we choose to go into his 529 account monthly was the exact amount that we had been investing automatically beyond our retirement accounts.

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The Parents’ Budget

Rebecca Minkoff 'Ava' Zip Wallet | CorporetteLadies, let’s talk BUDGET. Mine has changed after having a kid (and definitely after my second) — how has yours? Do you miss the days of being a DINK? Are you going into debt for childcare (i.e., paying to work)? Is the money coming from savings? Credit cards? If you’ve made cuts for your budgeting, how keenly do you feel them? (Pictured: Rebecca Minkoff ‘Ava’ Zip Wallet, available at Nordstrom for $110; was $165.)

For my $.02: I remember hearing a lot while pregnant about kids and budgets, and to be honest, it was all noise to me. I just didn’t get it — I thought people were talking about diapers or toys or something. (I’ll wait while you catch your breath from laughing so hard.) Obviously, childcare is the tremendous expense I didn’t foresee — but other things add up, like classes (preschool and extracurriculars), food (damn those $1.40-per-pouch babyfoods), and yes, the ever-present need to purchase a seasonally-appropriate wardrobe that fits. [Read more…]