Child care can be costly without a plan

Research ahead of time can help prevent costly decisions

(CNN) – Child care is a major expense for many families. It’s also an area where they want to get the very best. Despite that, there are still some areas where families can trim costs.

A recent survey of child care costs from Care.com found that various options come with various price tags, but all of them, cost parents thousands of dollars each year.

The national average weekly rate for a nanny: $488. For two children in a day care center: just more than $341 each week. And for an afterschool sitter: about $197 per week.

Care.com says one thing often overlooked by parents is a budget plan for child care expenses. In surveying parents who do plan, they found most – 59 percent – don’t plan their child care spending until after a child arrives. 38 percent of those asked, don’t have a budget plan at all.

Research ahead of time, particularly tapping into networks of family and friends, can help avoid a more rushed and sometimes more costly decision, later on.

They also recommend consulting an employer for other options to save, like flex time or any subsidized child care availability. Parents can also consider a flexible spending account, to save thousands of dollars annually on child care costs.

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