Wait, is daycare more expensive than university now?

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In a stunning reversal of a decades-long trend, nearly 30% of American moms are now set aside careers to stay home to care for their children, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

After hitting a low of 23% in 1999, the percentage of housewives jumped to 29%. The reason appears to be economic: only 5% of those stay-at-home mothers have a master’s degree and an annual family income of $ 75,000 or more, notes the Pew report.

The middle-middle-class family with a child born in 2011 can expect to invest $ 235,000 over 17 years to raise a child, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The cumulative cost of raising a child has skyrocketed, and the main reason is child care.

What size? The cost to send a baby to daycare is now higher than state college tuition and tuition fees in 31 states, according to a November report from Child Care Aware America. Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post Remarksironically, that this new data “suggests that we should also start setting aside money for child care when we are about 8 years old.” Sorry, kids: the money from your allowance is now going to the daycare fund.

Although costs vary widely from state to state, the CCAA report found that child care services are now more expensive than the average cost for feed a family of four. Child care costs for two children exceed the median average rent in all 50 states and housing costs for homeowners with mortgages in 20 states.

So how do you deal with all of this? Here are our tips to make sure you save money while protecting your loved ones.

Employer-provided child care might be the easiest option

Not only do some employers subsidize child care, but you can also get tax relief on your expenses. Many companies run their own child care services at a much lower cost to employees. Companies can also provide referrals or discounts to child care centers. You may be able to pay for child care expenses through an employer-offered flexible dependents’ expense account, to which you can contribute up to $ 2,500 per year tax-free for expenses. eligible.

If you work in the public sector or for a company with more than 50 employees, you may be eligible for the Family and medical leave law, which provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a sick child.

Another option is to have your employer telecommute, full-time or part-time, to supervise your children while working from home.

There are a number of government tax credits available

Often, you may qualify whether or not you are employed or on a low income. Not only are tax credits available, but you can also turn to federal agencies to help you find a reputable babysitter. Each state administers a federally funded child care and development program; This site will direct you to the right agency for your state.

In addition, the government offers a few programs:

Federal Credit for child care and dependents will reimburse up to $ 3,000 per year for one child, or $ 6,000 per year for two or more. Childcare expenses, in this case, include day camps as well as childcare. And 24 states offer additional dependent credits.

If your child needs to go to a special camp or needs extra care due to a health problem, you may be able to count these expenses as medical expenses as well. You can deduct your medical expenses and those of your dependents greater than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

Top 4 safe and inexpensive alternatives to babysitters

  1. Do a nanny share. Spread the cost of hiring a nanny by sharing it among a family group. Before you make a deal, figure out who will house the nanny and pay out payroll taxes, additional pay rules, and the length of the contract. Make sure you have it in writing, no matter how close you are to other families.
  2. Childcare cooperatives. This arrangement distributes childcare responsibilities among a group of families. This option works well when families have different schedules and can cover each other.
  3. We’re going to grandmother’s. If your twice abducted parents, grandparents, aunt or granduncle live nearby, see if they can take on one or two babysitting per month.
  4. Hire an au pair. Depending on how much you pay for childcare, hiring an au pair (a nanny residing abroad) can be a cost effective option. You can go through programs like AuPairCare or Au Pair in America to find an international traveler who will live with you for a year, look after your children and taste in the United States. Weekly rates start around $ 350 for basic au pair care.

Learn more about NerdWallet

How to save money on child care

Are you eligible for the child care tax credit?

Ask an advisor: tax questions for child care centers

Illustration by Brian Yee.

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