Inflation drives up cost of child care, gas prices, forcing families to reshuffle budgets

Jason Knowles Image
Thursday, July 28, 2022
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Higher childcare costs are forcing families to reshuffle budgets as inflation drives up the cost of everything from daycare to gasoline.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Higher childcare costs driven by inflation are forcing families to reshuffle their budgets.

"We burn through all our vacation days for the year just staying home with the kids when the schools are out," said Risa McMahon, parent in Lakeview.

McMahon has found that pulling from other resources helps, and experts say there are other things you can do to ease the cost of childcare.

WATCH | Tips to help families save money on childcare

The McMahons still spend $20,000 a year on after school childcare costs for their two kids, a cost which is up 335% since the pandemic began.

"It is a lot of money," she said. "All of us have been impacted by it, there's no doubt about it. My husband and I both work full time and that presents challenges in itself in terms of, you know, childcare, needing childcare until 5 and 6 p.m. at night."

And then there are all other days students are off throughout the year. McMahon has other tricks to trim the price tag.

READ MORE: Inflation drives up mortgage rates, rent costs

"Whether it's a patchwork of camps, we try to put together private camps, we try to use the Chicago Park District where we can because it's a lot less expensive," she said.

Bankrate.com's Ted Rossman said working parents should also check with their employers for childcare options and help.

"See if your employer offers a pre-tax dependent care account, one of those flexible spending accounts," he suggested. "That could save you a lot of money because you're putting the money aside before the buy of taxes."

Rossman said you can also ask childcare facilities if they offer a sibling discount, and don't forget when carting your kids around you can try to save on gas by downloading gas station apps and paying with a credit card that gives you cash back.

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"Use that rewards credit card, combining it with a gas station app," Rossman advised. "A lot of these stations have payment apps where you can save another five or 10 cents per gallon. So you put those two together and that helps."

After filling up, save by using cruise control on expressways to avoid going over 55 miles per hour, maintain your tire pressure, and use less air conditioning.

"We just do our best to go as many place as we can on foot and when you can't you just have to say, well, whether it's a price of a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk, any way you slice it those are just necessities and you just have to find ways to cut in other ways," McMahon said.

When it comes to childcare, experts also advise thinking out of the box. Turn to Facebook groups for help with other parents and friends you know and trust. And see if there's a nanny or babysitter willing to split duties with you and a neighbor to possibly cut down on costs.