Your kids are ecstatic about the summer holidays. But can you match their enthusiasm?
Probably not. It’s hard to be excited about summer when money’s tight. You might not be able to take time off work to look after your kids, which means you’re stuck paying for childcare.
If you’re struggling to find affordable childcare this summer, check in with these money management tips. They’ll help you handle the added cost of day camps and other activities.
1. Be Proactive and Plan
Proactive planning is one of the best ways to accommodate extra spending. A well-made budget helps you squirrel away money over the year until you have enough for your childcare costs.
Think of it this way:
Let’s say you need roughly $1,000 for camp. It’s easier to reach this goal by saving $20 a week all-year round than trying to scrounge up $1,000 in the last month before camp starts.
You won’t notice $20 here and there, but you will feel the loss of $1,000 in one go.
If it’s too late for this year, remember this lesson for next year. Build childcare savings into your monthly budget, so you can set aside cash consistently throughout the year.
2. Have a Backup Plan
Plans are good to have, including backup plans for when the first one doesn’t work out.
Because, sometimes, life goes wrong. You can face unexpected expenses at the same time you have to pay your childcare bill. If these are essential repairs or bills you can’t ignore, you can’t postpone them. But neither can you skip out on your camp fees.
If your budget falls short of what you need, try the following:
Talk to the childcare service
It can be embarrassing to admit you can’t pay your bills. But being open about your struggles can pay off. Without going into the dirty details, loop your childcare service provider into your financial issues. They probably won’t forgive your debt, but they may let you pay your bill later.
Fall back on a line of credit
An online line of credit gives you the freedom to juggle expected childcare costs and unexpected repairs. But don’t worry if your credit score is lower than you like.
Although mainstream banks may deny you a line of credit, there are other options for borrowing money when you need it. Online lines of credit can be simple to get even if you have subprime credit. Some also give you the chance to improve your credit if you establish a positive payment history.
It’s important to remember that these products are for unexpected expenses, and should be used when you don’t have the savings to cover an emergency, but it can’t be put off.
3. Take Advantage of Affordable Babysitting
If you’re tight on cash, expensive sleep-away camps are just not possible — even with a line of credit. Luckily, they aren’t the only way to keep your children safe and entertained this summer.
Check in with the neighborhood to see if there are stay-at-home parents willing to look after your children. They may be sympathetic to your situation and let your children stay over for a minimal charge.
If there isn’t anyone available in your neighborhood, go online to check if there’s a local community you can connect with. You may be able to find another trustworthy parent willing to help. If they can’t babysit, someone might point you in the direction of a subsidized service offered by the city.
Bottom Line: Stay Calm
When money’s tight, it isn’t always easy finding the cash you need for childcare. But it’s there. You just need to know where to look — whether it’s in your budget or a kind-hearted neighbor.