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The (expense) monster under the kids’ beds

Asked to dig deeper, Dave from Philadelphia revealed some eyebrow-raising kiddo expenses: at least $50,000 in daycare tuition for two, plus before- and after-school care, along with paying a nanny in the summer months.

Maybe you’re thinking what Ramsey said: “Are they going to Harvard? What the crap!”

The caller admitted it was a pretty fancy school, especially given that his kids were still pre-school age. The average cost of child care in Philadelphia is just above $17,000 per child, slightly more in the suburbs, according to child care website TOOTRiS.

“We’re going to take out student loans for the four-year-old,” Ramsey teased. “That’s what we’re coming down to.”

Budgeting for cost-effective child care is even more critical considering the expenses many Americans can’t readily escape, such as gas, insurance, groceries and utilities. Budgets can play a crucial role in bringing things under control — especially if you start by tallying your last three months of spending. What’s costing the most? What are the non-negotiables? Where can painless, sensible cuts be made?

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What about Ramsey’s ‘Option C’?

As Ramsey suggested, income from added work can countervail the dollar figure of a loan. Ramsey recommends staying away from loans in general, as taking on a side hustle or even a part-time job while you create an emergency fund can turn the numbers in your favor.

These days, a side hustle can be as simple as renting out an empty room in your home, an unused shed as storage space or even a parking space you might have but don't need.

When to consider a loan

Dave from Philadelphia clearly needed a reality check on his children’s child care costs. His family's $180,000 income has relatively little financial drag, and represents more than twice the median income of nearly $71,000 nationwide as of 2021, according to the Census Bureau.

Would a combination of cost cutting and a smaller loan make sense for the time being, then? Perhaps — but only if you avoiding borrowing at a high interest rate. If it’s a personal loan you have in mind, shop around. Banks and other loaning agencies want your business, so make them compete to give you the best rate.

Of course, married people who sit down with a neutral party — in this case, a professional financial adviser — will get a much clearer picture in terms of separating needs from wants and waste. After all, no one wants to stay stuck in financial pre-school.

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About the Author

Amy Legate-Wolfe

Amy Legate-Wolfe

Freelance contributor

Amy Legate-Wolfe is an experienced personal finance writer and journalist. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Toronto, a Freelance Writing Certificate in Journalism from the University of Toronto Schools, and a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University. Amy has worked for Huffington Post, CTVNews.ca, CBC, Motley Fool Canada, and Financial Post. She is skilled at analyzing trends and creating content for digital and print platforms. In her free time, Amy enjoys reading and watching British dramas on BritBox. She is a mother and dog-mom to a Wheaten Terrier.

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