Child Care on a Budget

Childcare on a Budget
According to a recent study, the average American family spends over $7,000 a year on child care. That's a major expense. So, is it possible to lower your costs without compromising on care and quality? Let's take a look.

One great way to lower your child-care costs is by joining or starting a babysitting co-op. These co-ops consist of parents who exchange free babysitting services with one another. That's right -- there's no money involved! Instead, a system of points, hours or tokens is used to measure how much work each family has put in.

To find more information on how to join a local co-op, check out On the homepage, simply click "Find a Community," enter a zip code, and you'll see a list of all the groups in your area

If your schedule isn't flexible enough for a co-op, try This site will connect you with a whole network of sitters and nannies in your vicinity. Each provider has a profile, complete with ratings, reviews, skills and experience.

Basic membership is free, and it allows you to view and post jobs. A Premium Membership will cost you $39 a month, but it also gives you the ability to request background checks, access references and contact an unlimited amount of caregivers.

No matter what, always remember to be safe and thorough when choosing a sitter. Always acquire references, background checks and conduct an interview beforehand. Give these tips a try, and you'll be on your way to finding childcare that's not only dependable, but affordable as well.

Baby Gear: Top of the Line vs. Cheap Chic
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Child Care on a Budget -- Savings Experiment

How do you feel about baby products today?  Do you buy the most expensive baby items thinking that they work better?  Click through our gallery to see great baby items both expensive and affordable.

Left: Status Stroller: The Bugaboo Donkey, $1199.

Right: Affordable Alternative: Mountain Buggy Swift Carrycot, $149.00

Left: Status Car Seat: Britax Car Seat: $295.99

Right: Affordable Alternative: Evenflo Tribute DLC Convertible Car Seat: $59.99

Left: Status High Chair: Bloom Fresca High Chair: $400.00

Right: Affordable Alternative: Target Foundations High Chair: $59.90

Left: Status Diaper Bag: Petunia Picklebottom Diaper Bag: $175.00

Right: Affordable Alternative: Kushies Diaper Bag: $39.99

Left: Status Baby Bottles: MAM Baby Bottles 3pk: $15.95

Right: Affordable Alternative: Evenflo Classic Tinted Bottles - 8oz. 3pk: $3.22

Left: Status Swaddle Blankets: Aden & Anais swaddle blankets: $49.95

Right: Affordable Alternative: Swaddle Me Micro Fleece: $9.95

Left: Status Bouncer: Svan Bouncer: $199.95

Right: Affordable Alternative: Bright Starts Bouncer: $42.59

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