Money Fix: Keeping up with child care costs

Child care is a large part of the

Child care is a large part of the family budget. Experts advise making wise choices when finding a caregiver. (Credit: iStock)

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It's tough when parents have to leave that new bundle of joy and go back to work. It's also a financial issue.

According to Child Care Aware, the average cost of full-time care for an infant in center-based child care was $11,046 a year in New York. Nationwide, average fees for an infant in center-based care were higher than the average amount that families spent on food.

Choose wisely: Search early to find high quality, affordable options. "Don't rely on word-of-mouth. Go to the experts," says Lynette Fraga, executive director of Child Care Aware. Start with the Child Care Council of Nassau in Franklin Square or the Child Care Council of Suffolk in Commack.

Review your budget: Determine how much your total expenses will increase once the baby arrives, says Katie Coleman, an adviser with Ameriprise Financial Services in Melville. Where can you cut costs?

Be creative: Nannies run $25,000 and up a year. Seek out a nanny-share situation through a neighborhood parent group, which saves both families, says Sara Stanich, a certified financial planner with Raymond James Financial Services in New York. Or consider hiring a parent you know and trust and with whom you share similar values, says Jonathan Gassman, CEO of The Gassman Financial Group in New York.

Offset costs: Does your employer offer a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account? You can set aside up to $2,500 in 2014 ($5,000 for married couples) in pretax income to pay for your child care expenses.

Clarification: Updates the name of Katie Coleman and her company.

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