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Ask a Financial Coach

June 30, 2022 • Education

Canopy’s financial coaching services are designed to meet you where you are and help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to successfully manage your financial life.

Our coaches get a lot of questions along the way. Here are a few you might find interesting:
 

Question 1:

Q: Childcare is taking over my budget, what are my options?
A:  You’re not imagining it. It’s surprising to learn that one-year of child care costs more than the average price of in-state college tuition according to a recent survey.
Hang on to your hat, because according to a study by Care.com, the average daycare cost in America is more than $9,500 per year, while the average cost for in-home care (like a nanny) is $28,354 a year. Costs vary from state to state so you may be spending way less or much more.

 

How to Budget for Childcare?
Look for ways to cut back and save, like cutting off or reducing cable service. Scale back on eating out. Review all of the subscription services you’ve signed up for. You may have even forgotten that you’re still paying for some of them. Think about gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, wine clubs, food boxes, and streaming services—anything that you’re paying for each month.

 

Staying Home vs. Paying for Childcare
Daycare costs for two small children, could add up to $20,000 a year or more. Depending on your combined income, that may be manageable. But if one of you makes $25,000 or less, you may be just breaking even or even losing money by working outside the home.
 
Making Childcare More Affordable
Contact the daycare facility you’re interested in and see if they offer any type of grants or scholarship options. It never hurts to ask!
 
Depending on your income and filing status, you might be eligible for some tax breaks. Your daycare costs could be deductible! Some employers offer Dependent Care FSAs that let you take money out of each paycheck (pre-tax!) to put toward your child care costs.
Here are a few additional ideas to consider:
  • Lean on Family — If you have family members who live nearby and they are willing to help—let them. Knowing your child is getting quality time with people who love them is a real bonus.
  • One Parent Stays Home — More than 16% of stay-at-home parents in the U.S. are fathers, so staying home can be a viable option for either partner. Many parents have been working at home since the start of the pandemic. Work with your employer to see if making your home office your primary office is a possibility.
  • Work Alternative Schedules — Getting creative with your work schedules could be a great option too. Depending on your job, working a late shift while your spouse works days might be a possibility. Obviously it might not be an option for everyone, but if it is it can offer you added flexibility.
  • On-Site Daycare at Your Company — Many companies are now providing on-site daycare for their employees at a reduced rate.
  • Nanny Share — Look at getting together with another family and sharing the cost of paying for a nanny.
  • Start an In-Home Daycare — If you decide to stay at home to watch your own child, why not start a side business and provide great in-home care for other families in need too.
It Won’t Last Forever
Before you know it, your kids will be in school and you won’t know what to do with all the extra money. But before you spend it all, it might be a good time to start planning for future college expenses.A man smiles and talks to a women. Text reads, Q and A with a financial coach, Canopy Credit Union

Question 2:

Q: How can I get my partner on board with a budget plan?
A: You want to create a household budget, but your partner/spouse/significant other is not on board. Here’s how to move the conversation forward:
 
Listen First
If they’re opposed or hesitant, they probably have misgivings that need to be addressed.
 
  • Do they feel restricted or controlled by the idea of following a budget? 
  • Do they have some money fears based on past experience that need to be addressed?
  • Do they actually already have a system that works for them?

 

Start the Conversation
Set up a time to discuss your finances and begin. It doesn’t have to be painful or stressful.

 

4 Ways to Get your Partner On Board With Budgeting
  1. Create a Fun Money Category for Each of You: Fun Money gives each of you your own spending money—which, of course, is fun! Just add two categories to your budget (one for you, one for them) and decide on a monthly amount. This becomes your Fun Money and you get to spend it any way you want. If you don’t spend it, it rolls over to the next month (but no borrowing against future Fun Money).
  2. Save For Something They Care About: Is there something they’ve been talking about that you just haven’t been able to afford? Do they have a hobby, a project they’d love to start, a vacation trip or a new guitar or camping gear? Add a category to your budget and start saving.
  3. Make It Friction-Free: Try to make the process as easy as possible for your partner. That probably means you’re going to do most of the work. But if they’re more comfortable being in control, appoint them the new Chief Financial Officer of your household and then be sure they stay accountable for results.
  4. Have a Regular Budget Date: Making a household budget is always a work in progress, so make sure you set up regular time to meet, discuss goals, spending, any unexpected expenses and ways to make things easier or more efficient. You can even have a little fun while you’re at it.

 

Creating and sticking to a budget can actually make you feel a greater sense of control when it comes to your money. It can help you save for things you care about and still provide cash for the fun stuff too.
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