Tag Archives: financial help

Cleaning Out Toys for Daycare and Tax Deductions

toy-messAre you wondering what to do with the piles of new stuff you have for your kids? Are they outgrowing the toys you have been accumulating over the year? Is that tax time just around the corner? Here at Decide on Daycare we can help you with all of those!

It’s that time of year again, when we find ourselves buried under piles of new toys while we look at the piles of old toys to and try to figure out what to do with it all.

First things first, talk to your children and get them involved in the process of cleaning out and cleaning up the old toys. It’s important to teach them that it does not matter how many toys you have, but what toys you have. You can follow your own beliefs but it is a good idea to help your children determine the difference between educational toys and regular toys.

Which Toys are Which 

Developmental Milestones of Young Children
Developmental Milestones of Young Children

Educational toys are ones that help teach A-B-C’s, counting, matching, shapes and colors, etc. When kids have these types of toys, they are playing and learning at the same time. It sets the foundation for their little brains to learn properly for the rest of their lives. It’s important as a parent to show excitement for these toys. Your children are going to feed off your excitement. Even if you are not actually excited about the educational toys you should still encourage them to play with these over the non-educational toys.

Non-educational toys will be more of the “standard” toys that kids often get. Things such as stuffed animals, cars, balls and other toys that are not directly related to things your children will need to learn and know to start school. These toys can be good, none the less, as they can help build imagination, sharing, and several other good behaviors. However, they can still often learn these same things through educational toys.

As a parent I try to keep the ratio between educational toys and non-educational toys at least  50/50. You can strive to make most of their toys educational. That way, the likelihood of them having higher quality play time is better.

As far as books go I try to encourage the same ratio as the toys, but I am much more hesitant to get rid of any books. The reason for this is even the youngest and most “babyish” books are great tools to help your children to read. Children will first learn to memorize the book. However, over time, they can learn to read the book as they grow older. You can really help them along with this by teaching them to skim the words as they read. By showing them you are helping them to learn to recognize the words. It may seem strange but your children can actually learn to recognize words prior to learning how to read or write.

Clean Out the Toys

Now that you have an idea of what’s what, start to go through your toys and books with your children. If you empower them to help and make decisions regarding what to keep or what to get rid of, it will make them feel like they are in control and will make this a much smoother process.

Make sure you talk through their decisions with them. If they want to get rid of something they play with every day, explain that that would not be good because they like the toy so much. On the flip side, encourage them to get rid of things that have sat in the bottom of the toy box without being touched for years.

Take this opportunity to throw away all toys that are broken or missing important pieces. Since they are getting new toys, there is no reason to hang onto the old stuff.

If they are unsure or you think they may actually want a certain toy later, you do have an option for a middle ground. You can tell them you can put their toy in “storage”. Put these toys in a bag or box and then put them in a place like a closet or spare room—someplace accessible to you but out of the way, and out of their sight. You might want to label this bag or box so you know it contains your child’s things, and put the date on the label as well. That way you know how long it has been since they played with the toys inside. If they ask for a toy, you can get it out of storage, but if it’s been six months, chances are you can donate them. If they realize that they want something from storage, you can get it back for them.  If you do, don’t take them with you. They will want all the toys in the bag! Just get the one item they asked for and take it to them. Use your best judgment since the ultimate goal is to clear out the old to make room for the new.

If there are any special toys, something that was one a parent’s, or something that would make a good memento, put it aside special for them. It can be a nice surprise when they head off to college to get the stuffed bunny they carried around for their first three years of their life, or when they are expecting their first child to receive some special toys they had as a kid.

Lastly, make sure that you keep a list of everything that is going into the donation bags. This will come in handy later. Throw out the broken toys but anything that is usable can be passed to another owner.

Donate to your Daycare or Charity

Lower Your Taxes - Big Time
Lower Your Taxes

There are many avenues to get rid of the unwanted but usable old toys your children have outgrown or no longer want. Use the list you created and send a copy to any of your friends that may have kids that are the right age for the toys that you have. Give a copy to your daycare provider and see if they want any of it. It can be fun for your child to find an old toy show up at daycare. Once you have talked to anyone you know that would want them, as well as your daycare provider, take what is left to your favorite charity.

Make a list of the toys you donate to charity. It is quite likely that these donations are tax deductible.

A Season of Getting and Gifting

It can be difficult for kids to understand the importance of why we give to others. It’s hard for them to grasp the idea of selfless giving. But if you help to reinforce this idea before the holidays and then back that up this time of year, you can help them to really absorb this lesson.

Explain to them that by donating their toys to their neighbor, family, daycare or charity is a great way to practice selfless giving. Show them how much you enjoy helping others and they will learn to enjoy giving as well.

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Black Friday Deals for Daycare Parents and Providers

decide-on-daycare-presentIt’s that time of year again. Time to start thinking about what to do with the holidays and what we want to do for those special people around us. As soon as your children are old enough to talk you can start to involve them in this wonderful season of giving. It is very important as a parent to start to teach your children the value of giving and doing special things for those people that we care for.

With the hectic schedule of the holidays its easy to overlook some of those that are most important to our child’s lives, their daycare providers. Make sure they are on shopping list. Daycare providers and nanny’s are such a vital part of your child’s life. They need to be reminded just how important and special they are. Involve your children in this if possible as they will just love to pick out things for their daycare provider. They will hold a special investment in the decisions and pride in giving it to them. This will help them to learn the valuable lessons around the joy of giving and showing appreciation.

Now is the time to score some great deals on things for the holidays. With the economy being what it is many retailers are offering deep cuts with their Black Friday and holiday deals.Take advantage of them while you can!

Black Friday and Holiday Deals

Great Toddler Gifts

Brainy Baby Holiday Promo
Brainy Baby Holiday Promo

This Brainy Baby deal is a great one, this could be the perfect gift for those that are expecting or have young kids. This set can get them started off right on the path to getting ready for school.

Daycare Supplies and Games

Here is a great source for daycare supplies. They have great deals year round and they are offering deeper discounts through the holiday season.

DiscountSchoolSupply.com-15% OFF Everything In The Gift Guide! Use Code: SALEGIFT! Click Here!

All Around Great Deals

Kmart is has been slowly closing up stores but their online presence has been strong. You can find great deals with them through the holiday shopping season. The great thing about Kmart is that you can get a wide variety of things in one place at great prices.

Online Only! EXTRA $10 off $100 on Christmas-themed Items with code 10KCHINGLE 11/20-11/26

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Daycare Costs – Is Working Worth It?

kid_blocksDaycare is a hard parenting decision. It can be difficult to decide if you want to send your children to daycare or if you should stay home with them. It’s worth it to look into the real cost of working. It might sound strange, but working costs money, and it costs more money when both parents work. The cost of working can outweigh the benefit of staying home with your child through those few short, formative years.

There are a great many arguments to be had debating both sides of the issue on whether or not you should stay home with your child. We have addressed some of those here at Decide on Daycare and will address many more of them in the future. However, this article is strictly designed to help you as a parent look at the monetary side of whether or not to send your child to daycare.

The spreadsheet link below will help you accurately assess your current financial situation and the financial burden or benefit involved in staying home with your children. The spreadsheets fields will automatically calculate for you to make this assessment easier.

Daycare Cost Calculator

This is a excel spread sheet but should be compatible with many different programs. It is presented this way so you can easily save it and change it at home or make minor tweaks to your own copy as you find the answers to the questions.

You will need to gather some financial information for the worksheet. You’ll need to know how much you spend on:

  • Daycare itself? (The total cost of enrollment, fees and misc. charges)
  • Daycare extras? (Extra car seat, clothes, medicine, diapers, wipes)
  • Gas for your vehicles? (To and from work, and daycare)
  • Other travel expenses? (Tolls, subway, train, parking)
  • Vehicle maintenance? (Oil changes, repairs, tires, maintenance)
  • Food for work? (Coffee, meals, vending machines)
  • Work supplies and equipment? (Laptop bag, cell phone, tools)
  • Work clothes? (Suits, business clothes, shoes, handbags, other accessories)
  • Your appearance? (Makeup, manicures/pedicures, salon treatments)
  • Other things at daycare? (Birthday parties, field trips, crafts, gifts)
  • Weekly Take Home Earnings? (After taxes and other deductions)

There are several lines below these that are highlighted in orange on the spreadsheet below the other questions. These are for you to add your own special expenses or anything else that goes into the cost of you sending your children to daycare or associated with you working.

After filling out this spreadsheet, you may be surprised by what you find. However, leaving the workforce for a few years has its own lifetime cost that is much harder to factor in, as is each parent’s own individual career circumstances.

You’ll need to determine what those numbers mean to you, and how they fit into your own particular circumstances. Having a number to work with, to really know what it costs for a parent to work and send their children to daycare, may help with those difficult decisions.

Yearly Cost Calculator

Stay-at-Home-Parent's Survival Guide
Real-Life Advice from Moms, Dads, and Other Experts A to Z

I have also included on the spreadsheet a yearly cost calculator. This is a great tool to use to convert either monthly or yearly expenses down into weekly costs so they can be calculated properly. This is important because there are many things that may go unaccounted for since you really do not pay for them on a weekly basis but they affect your budget through the course of the year. For example, your miscellaneous car expenses don’t occur each week. You may spend $500 a year in the winter for new tires, or $1000 a year for a tune up before vacation. However, these costs do not get factored in. When you look at how little you will drive compared to taking your child to daycare and driving to work every day you will see that these car expenses may go down dramatically. If you drive 100 miles a week instead of a day the wear and tear on your car is much less and you will not need these kinds of repairs annually. This kind of expense is what gets overlooked when figuring out the true costs of daycare.

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Can You Be Your Own Daycare

daycare_chalkboardThere is so much thought and effort that goes into figuring out all the particulars of daycare that I think many parents skip right over the simplest question of all, “Is daycare right for our family?” Decide on Daycare will help you evaluate if daycare is right for you. It may be surprising how much of your income goes into paying for daycare while you are at work. More importantly, you may be missing the most crucial time in your child’s life.

Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and examine the situation from a whole new perspective.

The Social Cost of Daycare

Other People Raising Your Children

Daddy, Do My Socks Match?
Daddy, Do My Socks Match?

One major factor to consider is that your daycare provider will become a very influential and powerful force in your child’s life. This can be both good and bad but the fact of the matter is that this daycare provider will be a huge influence on your child’s life, and will aid in the raising of your child. Your child will spend 1/2 to 3/4 or more of their waking hours with this daycare provider. This means they will be learning, growing and developing under this daycare provider’s guidance. Do you have the confidence that the daycare provider will do a good job in this very important role? Do you think that as a parent, you have the confidence and knowledge to provide the proper care for your child in this fashion? These might be tougher questions to ask and even tougher to answer. However, no question should be off limits when your child’s well being is at stake.

Your Child’s Formative Years

Most child psychologists agree that the first few years of our lives is the most important to forge who we are and our attitudes, ideas and morals throughout adulthood. This can be so important and it is your responsibility as a parent to make sure these years are done right. Whether you choose daycare or not you must be sure that whatever your choice is, you are secure in the fact that whoever it is that takes care of your children do so in some sort of accordance with your own wishes. This is something that all parents must take on a bit of faith should they have daycare for their children. It is something that parents that take care of their children don’t have to worry about.

Forging Bonds That Last a Lifetime

Parent Handbook on Getting Children Ready for Learning
Parent Handbook on Getting Children Ready for Learning

The first few years of your child’s life will set them on their path throughout their life. These few years are also when they will cement their bonds with those around them. Many mothers and fathers choose to stay home during the early years of the children’s lives to make sure their focus is on their children. Time does go by quickly, and in only a few short years your baby will be attending school all day. Most parents have about a six-year window with their children and choose to focus on that, while putting a career on hold.

The Cost of Daycare to your Sanity

Can you be a stay at home parent?

If you’ve thought through the financials of this question it is now time to consider if staying at home with your children truly interests you. It is now time to ask one of the hardest questions that I think parents have a hard time answering honestly, “Can I be a stay at home parent?”

This can be a very tricky one to answer but you must look at it from every angle before you make the decision.

  • Can you be around your children 24/7 or do you need and enjoy a break?
  • Are you a parent that can have little adult interaction?
  • Do you have the ambition to stay at home with them?
  • Do you have the knowledge or can you educate yourself on all of the up to date parenting techniques and philosophies?
  • Can you become not only your child’s parent but their teacher too?
  • Will you be willing to have play dates with other parents and children?
  • Are you willing to put your career on hold until they are in school full time?
  • Can you put your career on hold?
  • Will your family have health insurance if you are not working for a company that provides it?
  • Will you resent your children if your choice to stay at home with them ends up impacting your chances if you decide to work outside the home again?

Being a stay at home parent is not easy, but it is rewarding.

School Starts at Home
School Starts at Home

These are just a few of the questions a parent needs to answer before the decision to stay at home can be made. It will be a huge change, but it can be a good one. There is something satisfying about having a career and leaving your children with qualified daycare providers to take care of them and prepare them for school.

However, there is also the option of being a stay at home parent. There is something special about being the one to see them through all of their early life’s milestones. There is a pride that comes with teaching your own child to read, to write, and to count. There is a bond that is formed with your children when you are their parent and their teacher. And there is also the peace that comes with knowing they are with the person you trust the most. Yourself.

It is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly but one alternative to daycare that many parents find rewarding not only when they do stay at home but are rewarded throughout their lives. You will probably work harder, longer hours as a stay at home parent. You will not get breaks or raises. You will not get any vacations. You will, however get a chance to bond with your children in a way few parents do.

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Is Daycare Right For You?

girl_in_grass_2There is so much thought and effort that goes into figuring out all the particulars of daycare that I think many parents skip right over the simplest question of all, “Is daycare right for our family?” Decide on Daycare will help you evaluate if daycare is right for you.

It might seem like a no-brainer but the fact of the matter is, with the cost of daycare, the decline in wages, and the expansion of urban sprawl it may very well be that you are only working to pay for daycare. Some new stay-at-home parents have found themselves looking at this option in a new light after finding themselves unexpectedly unemployed in a bad job market.

Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and examine the situation from a whole new perspective.

Financial Cost of Daycare

The Cost of Daycare Itself

You may be spending more on daycare than you think you are. If you’re spending $250 a week for an infant and $200 a week on a toddler, that’s 450 a week. If you calculate your monthly bill, that’s $1,800 a month, which means you’re paying $21,600 a year! So if you or your partner makes less than $22,000 a year, you are losing money by taking your child to daycare.

The Expense of Going to Work

Don’t overlook the cost of actually going to work and what it costs to have a career. You need to consider what it costs in gas and tolls, wear and tear on your car, clothes, shoes, salon costs, and other miscellaneous purchases. You need to also look at your food expenses. Do you buy coffee every morning? Do you go out to eat with co-workers? These can quickly add up to thousands of dollars more you spend a year just to have a job.

The Hidden or Secondary Expenses of Working

Stay-at-Home-Parent's Survival Guide
Stay-at-Home-Parent's Survival Guide

These can vary widely depending on your career. You may incur extra babysitting costs when you have to work late. You have limited time off from your job, so you may end up taking vacations during peak times where airfare, hotels and entertainment prices are at their highest. There can be many more examples of this type of secondary expense but it is important for you to consider these when thinking of the financial effect of daycare.

Take all of these into consideration and you can easily go through the equivalent of an annual salary of $30,000 to $40,000 a year. If you factor in long commutes, premiere preschool academies and a large amount of work expenses, and the cost can go to $50,000 a year or more. Take it all into consideration when calculating the total amount that working actually will cost you. It’s likely that you may be working just to pay for daycare.

This is just the financial aspect of looking at whether or not you should be a stay at home parent. In the next article Decide on Daycare will go into the social aspects and the more difficult questions to ask yourself.

In the meantime visit the Determining Your Needs for Daycare for a more in-depth look at the different daycare types and great parenting advice on what would be best for you.

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Day Care Deductions for 2010 Taxes

day-care-taxes-2010With the start of the New Year it’s time to think about our taxes for last year. Decide on Day Care has some great child care tax tips for you to be sure you are prepared for this tax season. Day care can actually be a very good tax deduction but it is very important that you have all the right documents lined up and ready. Make sure to talk to your day care provider early to be sure that you’ll have all your documentation and information ready for taxes. If you’ve had multiple providers through the year, you’ll need to get a Tax ID Number (TIN) or their Social Security Number (SSN).

Day Care Center

The type of day care provider that you have will determine what kind of tax information you should get from them.  A daycare center such as a preschool should have the appropriate tax paperwork available for their parents.  If they child care center doesn’t offer it, just ask them for the information you need.  You’ll need a receipt for the full year, their full business name, and their TIN.

In Home Daycare

In home daycare providers know they need to provide this information to their clients as well.  They should be able to provide you a receipt for your day care expenses for the year.  Remember, they are running a business themselves and are required to track this information, but the accuracy and diligence vary widely from day care provider to day care provider.  Be sure to ask for documentation with as much advance notice as possible so they have time to prepare the required paperwork. Ask for a receipt of your payments for the year, as well as their TIN or SSN. If your provider gives you her SSN, please be very careful with the number. If it’s written down, don’t include any other identifying information on the sheet (such as her name and date of birth), and destroy the paper once you have completed your taxes. You need to do your part to protect her from identity theft.


If you have a nanny doing the childcare, it is up to you to document her earnings and take the appropriate taxes out throughout the year. You will need to file taxes as an employer, so this will be more complicated than enrolling your child in a day care center or privately run daycare.

If you use a babysitter frequently this can also be deducted as a child care expense on your taxes for the year.  Just be sure to keep track of when and how much in case you are audited.  Often times if you do not have use frequent child care you may not meet the minimum needed for a deduction.  It is a good idea to do a quick and dirty calculation of your day care expenses to see if it will be worth it for you to itemize your day care and child care deductions.

Even if you don’t have full time daycare, you may still be able to deduct expenses relating to childcare.  Look to your local tax code for the specifics but many offer tax breaks to help families with children.

Other Considerations

You will need to document your childcare expenses, but it’s also important not to let any other possible tax breaks slip through the cracks.

  • Government tax deductions
  • Employment day care benefits
  • Childcare payments
  • Tax credits
  • Volunteer work
  • Charitable contributions

If you’re planning to get a refund, you want to get all the information as soon as possible. Please be patient with your daycare provider if they are not getting the information to you as quickly as you would like. That’s not a problem if you end up owing money, but you definitely don’t want to wait until the very last minute to get the necessary information from your provider.

You might also want to check with your employer to see if they offer a plan to take a certain amount of money out of your paycheck each month, pre-tax, and make that money available to you to pay your childcare provider. Since this money is taken out of your paycheck before taxes, it affects the amount of the childcare expense deduction you’re allowed to take.

Be sure to check your local and Federal regulations and speak with tax professionals should you have complicated daycare taxes and expenses.  Be sure that everything is documented and speak with those that were involved in your day care throughout the year.  Taxes are different from household to household but many people forgo child care deductions they could be receiving.

TurboTax 2010 for Day Care Deductions
Day Care deductions can be maximized with easy to use TurboTax 2010.

There are many great software solutions for taxes.  Use the one that you are most comfortable if you decide to do your own taxes, but make sure you have the software that fits your particular needs.  At www.decideondaycare.com, we like using TurboTax. It guides you through the process step by step and makes sure you’re not missing out on any deductions. However, sometimes it’s best to leave complicated tax situations to the professionals.

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Day Care Donations Teach Your Child Giving

toy-messWith the holiday season coming to an end, it’s time to think about getting back on the normal day care schedule. But what to do with the pile of new and old gifts that your child has surely accumulated through the season? Don’t throw them away! The season of giving need not come to an end so soon and Decide on Day Care is here to help!

This is a great opportunity to set aside the old books and toys that your child doesn’t play with anymore. You can also clear out items that are too “young” for them and set those aside.  Lots of other parents would love to have your child’s gently used toys and books.

You have some options regarding what to do with these items. Make a quick list of what you have available to give, and drop it off with your daycare provider. They can let you know if they want some or all of the items, and they can mark on the list which ones the day care could use.  They may or may not want anything that you have collected, but they’ll be touched that you thought of them.

Kids are fickle and often forget about what they have.  They often never know an item is gone. For younger kids, probably three and under, you can go through their old things when they are napping or late at night when they are in bed. This helps to avoid many of the strange fights you are sure to have over a toy your child forgot they even had! You can put the items aside for awhile, and if they ask about it, it can be retrieved. After a certain amount of time, you’ll be able to get rid of the items.

Give a Little: How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World
How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World

For older children, going through their old toys is an excellent opportunity to teach them about giving and what it means to give to others.  Pull out a bag and explain to them that they are running out of room for all of their toys and there are others that could use them more.  Make sure they know that they are giving these away and they will not see them again.  Help them with process of thinking about a certain book or toy, and ask them questions about the toy: When was the last time you played with this? Do you think another little boy or girl will play with it more? These are important analyzing skills and will help them their whole lives!  Make sure to praise your children for their selfless acts and generosity.  This small activity can really  bolster the strong and important traits we want in our kids.

This is a great thing to do for new and old toys, and duplicate toys, books and games that you are bound to get.  You may even repeat this process during their birthday or other special events where they may get an influx of new things.

If your day care provider or the local child care centers do not want your donations,  save them and give them to a local charity.  You will be doing a great service for the families and  children in your area and is much better than any of this ending up in a landfill.

If you give these items to a charity, save the list of what you have donated. Everything you donate is tax deductible and it can be fairly surprising how simple donations like this through the year can really add up.

You can even take this one step further and as a parent go through your own things.  Show your child that you do the same thing you asked them to do. It shows them that you enjoy giving to others as much as you enjoy their choice in giving.

For more great tips stop by Decide on Day Care’s Parenting Tips section!

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Amazing Savings at zulily’s

Zulily’s is a new and interesting way to shop online. They don’t have a store in the traditional sense. They find the best deals at blowout prices on name brand items. When you join as a member of the website, they’ll notify you of the things that you’re interested in so you can jump on these deals as they happen. I encourage you to check them out as you can save quite a bit of money as a member of Zulily’s.

Click here to become a free member of zulily’s!

Here is some more information about them from their site.

Just what is zulily?

zulily is fabulous! It’s a new online store offering daily sales events on top-quality apparel, gear and other goodies for moms, babies and kids. We carry the best brands at the lowest prices.  Members enjoy savings of up to 70% off retail prices. zulily loves to find deals on favorite styles, and we love introducing our members to exciting new brands, too.

Why join?

It’s like a ticket to an amazing sample sale. Only members can take advantage of zulily’s low prices. Membership is free and signing up is fast and easy. Once you’re a member, you’ll be the first to know what we’ve got to offer every day.

How zulily works

We’re not a traditional online store. Instead, we feature new items every day. We find great buys from lots of brands and work with them to ship you the goods. We don’t keep stock in a warehouse. zulily events last 72 hours . . . then they’re gone! New brands move in and get their three days on the site.

Each weekday, we offer at least five limited-time shopping events. Members receive a daily e-mail revealing the latest events. From there, members (gleefully!) click to our site and shop. Members can also go straight to the site to shop every morning.

Every day is different, so if you’re looking for something specific, check back often. Anything and everything for moms, babies, and kids will show up on zulily!

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