It’s Saturday morning, also known as Kids Run Wild Day, when you begin your weekly 48-hour endurance challenge and dream of the relative peace that will come on Monday when you return to work. But what if your kid isn’t school age yet? Preschool “tuition” can be more expensive than a well-groomed drug habit, all but guaranteeing poverty until you can ship the tyke off to kindergarten. SmartMoney notes that on average, preschool tuition now runs $7,000 per year, and they offer a few alternatives for the cash-strapped owner of a 3-year-old.
We should note, however, that their alternatives require a lot more investment of time than the places where you drop your child off each morning. For instance, parent co-ops are “nonprofit organizations where parents take turns working in the classroom with the kids and teacher.” You can save as much as 80% on tuition, but you’ll have to devote at least one full day of work every two weeks–a requirement that can be difficult if not impossible to incorporate with many full time jobs.
Another option is family child care, which requires some extra work on your part to ensure that the family-operated business is properly accredited and monitored (some states don’t have regulations for these businesses at all, so do your research).