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Planning ahead for preschool is important for a lot of reasons, from budgeting for the cost of preschool to choosing the right curriculum for your child. Many preschool programs can be quite pricey, with costs sometimes being thousands per month. Generally, you should expect to pay a few hundred dollars per week for your child's attendance. That may seem like - and in fact, is - a lot of money. However, in return for a steep tuition, you'll be giving your child a head start on their learning and preparing them for their future. So take the time to do research, visit different facilities and create a financial plan for the cost of preschool.

Budgeting for the Cost of Preschool

You can use several methods to budget for the cost of preschool. First, inquire whether your employer offers a Dependent Care FSA. If so, you're eligible to divert up to $5,000 per year of your income – tax free – to an FSA. Simply use those funds to pay your preschool tuition bill. If your employer doesn't offer a Dependent Care FSA, you may be eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, according to the IRS. This credit removes up to $3,000 from your taxable income if you have one child, or up to $6,000 if you have two or more children. By reducing your taxable income, this credit offers big money savings. If you know that you'll be taking the Child and Dependent Care Credit, consider changing your paycheck income tax withholding amount to better match the taxes you owe each year. This can put more money in your pocket up front, rather than waiting for a refund in the spring.

Choosing the Right Preschool Curriculum

Do you have a favorite family recipe that you bring to potlucks throughout the year that always leaves people asking for the recipe? Now's your chance to share it. Be creative with packaging it up. In the card where you include the recipe, you could write "Top Secret Recipe." Or, you could purchase an actual key and lock for a few dollars at the local hardware store, punch a hole in the top of the recipe card and close the lock around it. Another neat way to package this is to purchase a money puzzle gift holder, but instead of putting money in the center, fold your recipe card and include that as the prize. Make them work for it!

Determining the Best Schedule

The final bit of preschool planning is practicality and figuring out what best fits your schedule. Would a part-time program be a good way for your child to begin socializing while you yourself work the same hours, or would a flexible schedule be best? Maybe your career demands full-time child care and it's important to find a school that offers extended hours before and afterwards. Do you have a higher degree of flexibility in your schedule, an interest in education and a desire to save more money? If so, consider a co-op preschool, where parents partner with teachers and school administration.

Laying the Foundation

Between a method of savings, to the curriculum you favor, to the schedule that best meets your needs, take the time to thoroughly evaluate your options. And be prepared to start early – some preschools require deposits to reserve your child's place months in advance, and the best schools tend to have waiting lists. Don't fret if you're short on planning and prepping time, however. In most areas, you'll have a wide variety of options to consider, even when your time frame is cut short.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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