If you’re tired of dealing with rising child-care costs, pack your bags and move to New Hampshire or North Dakota.
Both states topped the lists of the most affordable states for hiring a nanny and enrolling in daycare, respectively, according to a Care.com survey. Other states with affordable child care include Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C. and Mississippi top the lists of the least affordable jurisdictions for child care.
The average annual cost of a center-based daycare for infants is about $ 10,468, with prices ranging between $ 6,605 to $ 20,209. The average cost for a nanny taking care of one child is $ 28,905, with costs between $ 27,019 and $ 32,677, according to Care.com.
Child-care costs have continued to rise over the past four years. Nearly one in three families reported spending 20 percent or more of their income on child care, according to Care.com.
The study concluded that 72 percent of families are budgeting for child care, but 30 percent say they’re rarely able to stay within their set budget.
To help offset the burden of child-care costs, start planning as soon as you know you’re expecting a child, suggests Kimberly Palmer, the author of “Smart Mom, Rich Mom.”
“Start saving money early to help offset the shock of the cost of child care to your budget,” Palmer said. “It’s easy to feel overwhelmed financially when those first child care payments start going out — if you have some savings to help ease that transition, then you can avoid going into debt or straining other parts of your budget.”
Online budgeting tools can also be another key to staying within your budget.
“I like to track my spending through our credit cards so I can see what is going where each month,” Palmer said. “You can even sign up for alerts if you start to go over in certain categories.”
While 33 percent of working parents said they sought out higher-paying jobs to afford child care, some parents also took a lower-paying or less-demanding job, said Robyn Wentzel-Freeman, a data analyst for Care.com
“It’s interesting to note that 23 percent of working parents surveyed have chosen to downshift their careers, enabling them to take on more care giving responsibilities themselves,” Wentzel-Freeman said. “It can be a tough trade off.”
For a 27-year-old woman, three years out of the workforce could cost her more than $ 500,000 over the next 40 years of her career, according to an interactive tool the Center for American Progress launched last year, she noted.
However, some families may even be eligible for a tax break through a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account, which can cover up to $ 5,000 of annual child-care expenses using pre-tax dollars.
Despite the high costs of child care, 81 percent of families still feel their child-care plan is worth investing their money in.
For more information, check out the infographic below.