As a mom, I know all too well the struggles involved with putting the kids in daycare so you can work. Aside from trusting your kids in the care of others, there is also a lot to consider when it comes to finances.
Families all over the world are conflicted with whether they should continue having both parents work and spending ridiculous amounts of their income on childcare or having one parent quit to stay home with the kids and save money, albeit creating a one-income family.
What about the single parent households that don’t have much of a choice: put your child in daycare, find a babysitter, or don’t go to work to make money necessary to support your household.
Now, like most other things, there’s an app for that. Apps have made it easier for parents to find a babysitter in a pinch or a long-term daycare facility that they can both trust and afford.
The Real Cost of Childcare on Today’s Parents
Most people in the United States can expect to spend at least 7% of their yearly income on babysitting or daycare, according to an interactive map of child care costs from ChildCare Aware of America.
That means that a household with an income of about $59,000 – the average in the United States – will pay at least $4130 a year, or $344 a month, on child care.
Some states have much higher price tags on child care than others, taking 12% or more of a family’s income. That same family might pay $7080 a year, or $590 a month in one of these states, like California or Pennsylvania.
These daycare rates aren’t including babysitting costs for date nights, “mom” time, or unexpected emergencies. These can tack on another $100 or more a month, easily.
One of the reasons I started a business from home is because I no longer wanted to put my kids in daycare or have that cost cutting into my income every month. I know that’s not a feasible option for everyone, yet I’m a firm believer that every parent should have access to affordable childcare.
That’s why I put in some research to find mobile apps that will help you cut your daycare costs by matching you with reliable and affordable babysitters and daycares in your area.
Apps That Help You Find an Affordable Sitter or Daycare
The first step toward saving money is finding a sitter or daycare that’s more affordable than the one you’re using. The following apps have systems that let you see the current rates for your matches, so you’ll have a transparent look at what costs you can expect when you use that sitter or center.
1. Bambino (US Only – iOS, Android)
Bambino is a helpful app for parents looking for a reliable babysitter in their area. Once you sign up for the app, you can begin to search for listed babysitters near you using the map feature.
The app will even tell you what babysitters in your neighborhood or town have the highest ratings and are the most recommended by others who have booked them.
You can book the sitter directly through the app based on his or her availability. You’ll see the sitter’s rates listed before you book, so there won’t be any surprises.
Once your babysitting job is complete, you can pay the sitter conveniently through the app based on his or her hourly rate. Rate the sitter and your job is complete!
Since Bambino is more like a pay-as-you-go system for babysitting, it’s best for finding last-minute babysitting when you’re in a pinch rather than a long-term sitter.
BONUS: You can actually make money with Bambino by becoming a Community Manager. As the company expands across the U.S., it’s looking for more people to scout awesome babysitters in their towns. Find out more about the program here.
2. Bubble (UK Only – iOS, Android)
Out of anyone that could help you find reliable and trustworthy babysitters (who also won’t cost you an arm and a leg for a night out on the town), it’s probably your friends who are parents. If they’ve used someone they rave about, you’d be more likely to welcome that person into your home to watch your kids too.
Bubble is a UK-based app that helps you find out who your friends trust the most to watch their kids regularly or on an as-needed basis. You can connect with your friends on the app to view their ratings for babysitters, browse to find local babysitters, and see their hourly rates right by their pictures to make sure what they’re charging fits within your budget.
The app is 100% free to sign up with and find a babysitter. You’ll only pay once your babysitter has completed the job.
3. Care.com (Worldwide – iOS, Android)
You’ve likely heard of Care.com, or maybe have even used the website to find a babysitter before. The company also has an app that helps you hunt down babysitters, nannies, or child care centers in your area.
The best thing about Care.com is that you don’t have to rely on the listings of babysitters or centers that are already there to find the right person or place. You can create your own listing to explain precisely what you’re looking for (and your max budget) to weed out anyone who might not be a good fit for you and your wallet.
The app will send you alerts when someone responds to your listing or wants to ask you a question. You can then message the sitter in real-time to chat about your requirements and set up a meeting time.
4. CubbySpot (Canada Only – iOS, Android)
If you’re looking specifically for a daycare center instead of a babysitter, then CubbySpot is the perfect app for you. This app lets you scout your neighborhood or town for the best daycares around without having to get in the car and drive around town.
CubbySpot is like Facebook for daycares. You can follow daycare centers in your area, find out what their availability is like for your child’s age group, and even apply and check your application status through the app.
Is your area not coming up with enough viable options to match your budget? You can use the app to request more daycare services in your area to let potential child care providers know that there’s a need in your neighborhood.
5. HelloSitter (Select Areas of New York – iOS)
HelloSitter is specific to those living in the areas of New York in which it operates, like New York City, but it also offers some incredible discounts on hourly child care compared to what you’re probably paying now in those areas.
It works much like similar apps – sign up, browse the nearby babysitters, and book one through the app.
Where HelloSitter stands out, though, is in its pricing for multiple children. In NYC, you’ll pay an hourly rate of $18 for one child, but five or six children will only boost the price to $26. That’s the maximum you’ll pay unless you have more than six children who need care, which will then require another babysitter.
6. Helpr (Select US Cities – iOS)
Helpr is an app focused on helping parents find a babysitter at any time, even when they need one last-minute. In some locations, Helpr is able to have a sitter come in about three hours from your booking time.
The app screens all its babysitters for you before they’re allowed to be listed in the marketplace, so that’s less time you’ll have to spend doing so yourself (which is super helpful in a pinch). You can still chat with the sitter through messages or video before meeting up if it makes you feel more comfortable to do so.
You’ll pay your sitter by the hour according to the rate he or she charges. There are no hidden fees and you’ll see the hourly rate before you book that sitter.
Helpr is currently only available in select cities across the U.S. but you can email the company to suggest expanding into your area.
BONUS: Tell Helpr you need help convincing your company to provide better daycare options for workers and Helpr will contact the HR department to see what they can do to make it happen!
7. Sitter (US Only – iOS, Android)
Sitter is one of the best apps to use when you need last-minute childcare but don’t want to pay dearly for it. Like similar apps, you can view the profiles of babysitters in your neighborhood and see their hourly rates transparently to find one that meets your budget. With this app, though, you could have a sitter at your door in just minutes.
There is no minimum time you need to wait to book a sitter from the time you log onto the app. If one’s available for work, let them know you need them.
Sitters can create their starting hourly rate and provide a discount, if they choose, for additional children, which could make this app a budget-friendly way to find a quick sitter for multiple kids.
8. SitterCity (US Only – iOS, Android)
SitterCity.com has been around since 2001, connecting families with sitters and daycares in their area. Now it has an app to put the best babysitters near you right at your fingertips.
Like Care.com, you can create a listing for yourself on the app that details exactly what you need in a babysitter. You’ll have complete control over what you want to pay by making your rate clear in the listing. Sitters can respond to your listing and you can message them through the app immediately.
Sitters have reviews from real parents who have used them in the past, so you can always do a little research before choosing to hire them.
9. SitterFriends (Select Cities in California – iOS, Android)
If you live in California, SitterFriends may be the app that helps you find affordable babysitters for a long-term or temporary solution. This company uses a 5-step vetting process that includes a background check and interview so that any babysitter that comes to your door is one you can trust.
When you browse the listings of providers near you, you can see their hourly rates on that screen without ever having to click through to their profile. Just scroll through and compare hourly prices to find one that meets your budget. The sitter’s rating is also right on the front page, so it’s easy to get a quick overview of the sitter compared to others.
10. UrbanSitter (Select Cities in the US – iOS, Android)
UrbanSitter is an app focused on parents in large cities across the US who need some help finding a babysitter that won’t break the bank.
It’s somewhat of a social network, too, where parents can read reviews from other parents to learn more about the babysitters near them. You can also post babysitting jobs for others to respond to you, making it easy to get someone who matches the rate you’re willing to pay.
This app does cost money for an all-access pass to everything it offers, but you can try your first month for free to see if it’s for you before making the full jump.
11. Zum (Select Cities in the US – iOS, Android)
Zum is like an Uber for school-age kids, age five and up. It’s not for babysitting, but instead for driving your kids where they need to be when you can’t. Whether you need someone to pick your kids up from school or bring them to baseball practice, Zum sitters can be there.
Zum is transparent with its pricing and even gives you a handy Fare Estimator to find out about how much you can expect to pay for your child’s ride.
Babysitting Co-Op Apps
If you haven’t yet heard of babysitting co-ops, hang onto your seat because it’s going to blow your mommy mind and make you wonder why you’ve never thought of it before.
A babysitting co-op is basically an exchange of babysitting time with friends or other parents who also need some babysitting time. No one has to pay a dime.
Instead, when you babysit for others, you’ll receive “credit” for babysitting time for your kids. Someone else in your co-op will then babysit your kids for free and gain credit for themselves, and so on.
Babysitting co-ops are perfect for when you have a schedule that can work around the schedules of others to get at least some free babysitting every week. No one pays, yet everyone wins. The following apps will help you find co-ops in your area, or even start your own:
12. BabysittingCoop.com (US Only – Android)
BabysittingCoop.com’s app is one of the first of its kind, connecting parents with other parents to create bustling childcare co-ops, saving them hundreds to thousands of dollars on childcare every year.
This app costs only $2.50 to use every month. From there, you’ll earn points through the app when you babysit the kids of another parent in your co-op. Use those points to get free babysitting for your own kids.
That’s $30 a year for babysitting. If you get a big enough group together with varied schedules, it’s possible that you’ll never have to pay more than that for childcare!
13. Komae (US Only – iOS, Android)
Komae is one of the newer kids on the block to join the babysitting co-op party, but it’s easily one of the most organized and simplistic apps to use.
You’ll get 20 free babysitting points to use when you sign up (that’s 20 hours of babysitting for FREE!), so you don’t even have to babysit someone else’s kids at first. After that, you’ll need to pay for a subscription, which is $100 a year, or just over $8 a month.
Every hour you babysit someone’s kid, you’ll get one point, or one hour of babysitting, for yourself free.
14. Sitster (US Only – iOS, Android)
Sitster works similarly to other babysitting co-op apps, but it has one feature that others don’t: you and your co-op members can agree to and set the number of credits you each start with. For example, you can give each member 5 babysitting credits, which are equal to 5 free hours, of babysitting before they have to babysit kids to gain credits.
You can also pay in cash instead of points for babysitting when you need someone but don’t have any credits saved up, which is an excellent feature for parents who have to take an extra, unexpected shift at work on a Tuesday night.
BONUS: Co-Op Websites
15. Sit4Sit (US)
This simple and free service couldn’t be more straightforward for parents to use.
Sign up, create a network by inviting your friends and people in your community who are interested in joining your co-op, start exchanging babysitting with other parents, and Sit4Sit will keep track of the times everyone babysat.
You’ll have access to all the time you’ve used and hours you’ve logged on your dashboard and you don’t need to pay anything to use it.
16. Sitting Around (Available in 9 Countries, But Mostly Cities in the US)
Search Sitting Around by your zip code to see if there’s a babysitting co-op already in your area. If not, start your own!
It costs only $15 a year ($1.25 per month!) to join and you’ll even get a 60-day free trial to make sure it fits your needs.
You can request babysitting from your co-op through the app and earn credits when you babysit their kids. Your co-op comes up with its own rules for how many credits you can get and what they’re worth.
Finding affordable babysitting and daycare can be rough on already stressed parents. When parents can find babysitters that meet their budgets thanks to transparent hourly rates or free childcare through co-ops, that’s one less stressor on their plate.
The apps above are the perfect solution for moms and dads to gain a network of reliable babysitters that they can also afford without scrimping every penny.
What ways do you save on childcare every month? Share some of your tips for other parents in a comment!