Hire a nanny
: While this may seem like a more expensive alternative than day care, if you have friends that are also in need of child care, working together can be a win-win situation for everyone. By having all the children left with a nanny, each parent will pay less than they would on their own, but the nanny will earn more than if working for just one family. This takes a bit of time to hire and arrange, but can cut the cost of child care.
: If a couple's employers allow flexible work hours, it may be possible for one or both to adjust their work schedule, so the children can spend less time in day care. More and more businesses are allowing flexible hours, so it is worthwhile discussing the issue with your boss.
: Another topic that you should discuss with your boss is the possibility of telecommuting a few days a week. With technological advances, telecommuting is much easier these days, especially if most of your work is done on the computer. Being able to telecommute may cut in half the days that the child needs to be in child care -- and also the costs.
: More communities are stepping in and offering day care help and young-child activities. Be sure to check with your local community center to see if they offer any programs that could help reduce your child care costs.
: Check to see if there is a public school pre-Kindergarten program in your area. Some school districts offer half-day pre-K programs for 4-year-olds. Many of these programs are free, or cost a minimal amount of money. By enrolling your child, it will reduce your child care needs to a half day.
: If both you and your spouse work, see if it's possible to arrange your work schedules so they overlap as little as possible. If your job allows you to work a shift different than your spouse, this may enable you to reduce the number of hours your child has to spend at child care.
Find a relative
: If you have a relative who lives nearby, he or she may be able to help with child care. A growing trend is for families to invite a grandparent to come to live with them and help take care of a grandchild. This can be particularly appealing to the grandparent if he or she is widowed and lonely.
: If one of you works in a field where it is relatively easy to change jobs, taking a new position for less pay but more flexibility with child care can often increase your overall take-home pay. Again, you need to run the numbers to see if this makes sense, but it's important not to assume that a lower salary means less money flowing into the home.