A little bundle of joy can add considerable costs to your budget. One of those big costs is preschool. New parents everywhere can’t help but wonder "how much does preschool cost?"
The short answer is that preschool can cost thousands of dollars. Although preschool is undeniably expensive, having a better idea of the cost can help you plan ahead for this major financial commitment.
In this article we are going to cover questions such as: How much is preschool, what determines the cost, and how can new parents prepare for this additional expense. Plus, how you may be able to save with the help of preschool alternatives.
What is the cost for preschool dependent on?
The cost for preschool can vary widely across the country. The answer lies in the variable cost of living factors that can be found around the country. If you live in a high cost of living area, you can expect that to translate to a pricey preschool. Likewise, those living in low cost of living areas will likely find lower preschool prices.
But even within cities, the type of school can have a big impact on the costs. An exclusive preschool with a long waiting list can often charge higher prices than a less sought-after school.
Another factor that can affect the price is the amount of time your child spends there. If you send your child to preschool a few mornings a week, you’ll likely pay less than if you send your child to preschool every workday for the entire day. With that being said, let's dive into the big question "How much is preschool?"
How much does preschool cost?
So how much does preschool cost on average? According to the World Population Review, the average cost of childcare ranges from $5,436 to $20,913 per year, depending on where in the United States you live.
That’s clearly a wide range of costs to consider. The most expensive state for childcare is Massachusetts at $20,913. Some of the expensive states for preschool include California, Minnesota, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Colorado, Washington, and Virginia.
On the other end of the scale, Mississippi is the most affordable at $5,436 in childcare costs per year. Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota, Arkansas, and South Carolina have similarly low childcare costs.
Another authority, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), the average cost of preschool ranges from $4,460 to $13,158 per year.
Even with various estimates, one thing is clear — the cost for preschool will be an expensive undertaking for your budget.
How can new parents begin to prepare for the cost of preschool?
No matter where you live, preschool costs can easily reach thousands of dollars per year. But as a new parent, you can take steps to prepare for the cost for preschool.
Here’s a closer look at the strategies to help you prepare for this big expense.
Research costs ahead of time
So how much is preschool in your area? The best way to prepare is to take the time to research the cost for preschool in advance. With some time to conduct research, you’ll be able to explore all of your options.
One thing to look into is any cost-saving programs in your area. Depending on your situation, you may find some available government assistance programs to help make preschool more affordable. A good place to start looking at these options is Childcare.gov.
Beyond assistance programs, check out the different options around town. You might be surprised to find a gambit of prices available in your area. Consider the quality of care and the price when exploring your options.
Start saving as soon as possible
It is no secret that preschool costs will add up quickly. Even if you find a relatively affordable option, it will likely take a toll on your budget. So, it’s a good idea to start saving for these preschool costs as soon as possible.
One way to start saving is to set up a sinking fund for your child’s preschool expenses. By setting aside some funds each and every month, you’ll be better prepared to handle the big bills that preschool may throw your way.
Create a new budget
Childcare costs will likely be a big portion of your budget. As you incorporate this new expense into your life, creating an entirely new budget that works for you is smart.
A budget should reflect your financial goals and your values. It's likely that raising a child will impact your budgeting goals. So starting from scratch with an entirely new budget will signal the start of a new chapter in your life — and your financial priorities.
Need help creating a budget? Take advantage of our free budgeting course to craft a budget that works for you.
The cost for preschool can be steep. So if preschool isn't a good fit for your child or your budget there are other options to consider.
Choose to be a stay at home parent
The decision to become a stay-at-home parent is a big one. You’ll have lots of factors to weigh in this decision. One of those factors is the cost of preschool versus the income a parent can produce outside of the home.
Run some comparisons to see where your situation stands. Another factor is the desire to stay at home with your children or work at a traditional job to achieve other goals. This choice involves a lot of introspection before moving forward.
Ask for help from relatives
If you have relatives close by, then their help could greatly alleviate your preschool costs. Plus, your relative will have the opportunity to spend more time with your child.
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have this option. But if you have someone to ask for help, consider reaching out for a helping hand. You might be surprised at how willing family members are to help out.
Consider a preschool co-op
The structure of a preschool co-op varies. But the general premise is that parents volunteer time to the preschool with the intention of lowering costs for every parent and child. Depending on the setup, you may need to contribute hours each day, week, or month.
Take some time to check out the local preschool co-ops to see if there is a good fit.
Check out local mom groups
Local mom groups are a wealth of resources for a variety of reasons. But one big reason is that local moms can help each other out with childcare.
For example, you could trade childcare duties with another mom in your area. You’ll both have some time to work on other things. But you’ll both spend time watching your child with some playmates.
Prepare financially for the cost of preschool!
Preschool costs are a big hurdle for your budget. But some creativity and planning can go a long way to cut these unavoidable costs. One of the biggest ways to prepare for this shock to the budget is to do research ahead of time. So, find out what the costs are in your area to start saving.
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