Author Topic: value of daycare convenience  (Read 1094 times)

jwharki

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value of daycare convenience
« on: October 16, 2017, 11:45:01 AM »
Long-time reader, first-time poster.  So hey, friends!

My wife and I have ~7 mo. old twins who've been in daycare full-time since my wife went back to work.  We have no real complaints about the present daycare ("PD").  The staff is friendly enough and appear to treat the babies well.  We got a call from another daycare ("ND") last week that two spots have opened up in its infant room.  My question is how much should we value basic convenience in this decision.

Assume both daycares offer equal safety, care, and activities for the twins (I have no information to suggest otherwise).  ND pros: it's directly on my commute to work and would probably save me 25-30 minutes of drive time every workday, potentially until the babies start kindergarten in 5 years; it opens a half hour earlier, which would be helpful in the winter months when my wife and I go to the climbing gym together before work; it's right across the street from their doctor, so it would be very convenient on days they have appointments.  ND cons: it costs about $3k/year more than PD ($21k vs. $18k, fwiw).

So I guess the question here is: how much is too much to pay for convenience?  We could afford the extra $3k, I guess, but we'd certainly notice it.  Thanks for any advice!

Laura33

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2017, 12:42:25 PM »
1.  How much gas/depreciation would you save by shortening your drive?  FYI IRS rate assumes a total of @$0.54/mi, which is a reasonable baseline, unless your car is much cheaper or more expensive.

2.  Would the earlier hours and/or shorter commute allow you to put in additional time at work and earn more money?*  I did PM pickup, so a place that stayed open until 6:30-7 was invaluable to me, because it meant I could leave later without worrying about a huge backup on the highway.

3.  What is the rest of your financial situation?  If you have CC debt at high rates, for ex., you can't "afford" the more expensive daycare, unless the extra time would absolutely cover the difference. 

4.  Is this a high-priority quality of life issue?  E.g., if you see your kids now for 30-60 mins. a day because of the long commutes, the extra money may be worth it to increase your weekday kid-time by 50-100%.** 

5.  Assuming you can't make up the money through increased earnings, have you figured out how much the extra costs would affect your FIRE date?  Or, if you would maintain your current savings, what else would go to cover the delta (e.g., maybe trade your current car for a smaller/more efficient/older/cheaper one to offset the extra costs?)?  Which is more important?

No one here can tell you the "right" answer; only you can do that.  But $3K is a lot of money, and so the decision deserves careful analysis, both financially and emotionally.

*Note that this can be direct, such as if you work on an hourly basis; or it can have more indirect effects, if you dedicate that extra time to work and so get a better bonus/faster promotions.  Obviously depends on your individual situation.

**Unless you have CC debt, of course, in which case revert to 3.
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Goldielocks

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2017, 12:54:56 PM »
Convenience is worth quite a bit. 
If one location means that either parent can handle half of the pickup, or mid-day "sick" calls, then that is worth quite a bit.

I found that a big difference is with the 30 month -7 year old groups...  That kids with any sort of tummy upset, illness, or evidence of lice are asked to stay home and for extended periods of time.  Some daycares call and demand immediate pickup for this much more often than others.  The best ones will handle an unwell but active kid for a few hours to see how the kid feels (having a separate play room) e.g. make sure it was not something as simple as eating too fast that caused the barfing, others look for every opportunity to call for a pickup, and to make the kids stay away from the center.   A friend's Daycare was the source of lice and her kids were constantly catching it from there, with 3+ days of "not allowed back" each time, even though she ended up just shaving the boy's heads.   Their response was a lot more aggressive than the school district's lice policy (which was identify, go home, treat, return to class).

What type of response works best for you as parents will depend on your view of your kid's health.

So also ask what happens to the preschool kids if they feel unwell, throw up , etc.  Do they have a separate quiet room to handle minor issues or is it an immediate "pick-up now!" call to parents at work?

In terms of money -- my friend found that her missed days of work to be far, far more expensive than $3k per year, including all the times she had to take 1/2 a day for a kid's doctor's appoint.

GuitarStv

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2017, 02:02:09 PM »
We had to drive about 30 minutes out of our way in the morning and then again in the evening at the first daycare we put our son it.  The current one is a ten minute walk from our house.  Fortunately it was also a bit cheaper for us changing daycares.

That convenience is worth an awful lot.  It's only a little time every day, but it adds up to a large portion of the day that you can't spend with your family, dealing with random things that pop up at home, just relaxing rather than running from pillar to post trying to get stuff done all the time.  I'd spend the extra money in your shoes.

jwharki

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2017, 02:36:21 PM »
Thanks for the replies, so far.  You've provided some important things to consider, especially Goldielocks' advice re: the illness policies, which I hadn't thought about.

To answer some of Laura's questions...  My commute either way is fairly minimal.  A straight shot (which would pass right by ND) is about 2.5 miles.  A detour to PD is about 5 miles, but requires me to pass through a more heavily trafficked area, especially in the evenings.  Some quick math using the $0.54 IRS rate says I'll save about $3,250 over the course of 5 years by switching, so basically the cost of a year at ND.  It could have the added benefit of allowing me to resume bike commuting when the babies are old enough to ride in a bike carrier.  The traffic near PD makes this idea pretty unpalatable.

I'm salaried, so there will be no direct compensation advantage to getting to work earlier, but consistently showing up to work 10-15 minutes earlier certainly wouldn't hurt.  My wife is hourly for now, but I do almost all of the pick-up/drop-off, and that wouldn't change.  No high interest debt.  Mortgage and student loans at ~5%; the latter is currently the beneficiary of the extra money that would be diverted to ND.  Noted re: "afford."  There are opportunity costs here, for sure.

Ultimately, you're right that we just need to figure out how important that time will be for the family.  Thanks again for the responses.

Laura33

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2017, 07:12:58 AM »
Thanks for the replies, so far.  You've provided some important things to consider, especially Goldielocks' advice re: the illness policies, which I hadn't thought about.

To answer some of Laura's questions...  My commute either way is fairly minimal.  A straight shot (which would pass right by ND) is about 2.5 miles.  A detour to PD is about 5 miles, but requires me to pass through a more heavily trafficked area, especially in the evenings.  Some quick math using the $0.54 IRS rate says I'll save about $3,250 over the course of 5 years by switching, so basically the cost of a year at ND.  It could have the added benefit of allowing me to resume bike commuting when the babies are old enough to ride in a bike carrier.  The traffic near PD makes this idea pretty unpalatable.

I'm salaried, so there will be no direct compensation advantage to getting to work earlier, but consistently showing up to work 10-15 minutes earlier certainly wouldn't hurt.  My wife is hourly for now, but I do almost all of the pick-up/drop-off, and that wouldn't change.  No high interest debt.  Mortgage and student loans at ~5%; the latter is currently the beneficiary of the extra money that would be diverted to ND.  Noted re: "afford."  There are opportunity costs here, for sure.

Ultimately, you're right that we just need to figure out how important that time will be for the family.  Thanks again for the responses.

TBH, in your case I'd do it.  I hate traffic, hate commuting, so this is a luxury I'd happily pay for.  And if it gives you the option to resume bike commuting, that's a financial win, too.
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mm1970

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2017, 02:58:49 PM »
Long-time reader, first-time poster.  So hey, friends!

My wife and I have ~7 mo. old twins who've been in daycare full-time since my wife went back to work.  We have no real complaints about the present daycare ("PD").  The staff is friendly enough and appear to treat the babies well.  We got a call from another daycare ("ND") last week that two spots have opened up in its infant room.  My question is how much should we value basic convenience in this decision.

Assume both daycares offer equal safety, care, and activities for the twins (I have no information to suggest otherwise).  ND pros: it's directly on my commute to work and would probably save me 25-30 minutes of drive time every workday, potentially until the babies start kindergarten in 5 years; it opens a half hour earlier, which would be helpful in the winter months when my wife and I go to the climbing gym together before work; it's right across the street from their doctor, so it would be very convenient on days they have appointments.  ND cons: it costs about $3k/year more than PD ($21k vs. $18k, fwiw).

So I guess the question here is: how much is too much to pay for convenience?  We could afford the extra $3k, I guess, but we'd certainly notice it.  Thanks for any advice!
25-30 min a day is worth a lot of dough to me.

But then again, both my kids daycares were 5 miles in the WRONG direction compared to work, so what do I know.

Milizard

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2017, 08:41:51 PM »
Quick back of the envelope calc gives me the cost of convenience in this case to be about $24/hr.

Northern gal

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2017, 05:23:53 AM »
How stable is the staff at PD? Would you be uprooting the kids? They do get attached, even at that age

jwharki

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2017, 08:39:27 AM »
How stable is the staff at PD? Would you be uprooting the kids? They do get attached, even at that age

I don't know how stable.  PD's owner has 3 daughters who work in the infant room, so at least those 4 are pretty stable, I assume.  But I can think of probably 6 or 8 other staff members I see around there regularly, and that's not including the people who staff the older children (who are in an adjacent building that I've only seen once on a tour).  The staffing has appeared to be pretty stable for the couple months we've been there, but SSS.

Re: uprooting, I'll admit, I assumed it would be a pretty minor blip on their radar at 7 or 8 mos.  PD is fairly large as daycares go around here, so it's not like they're with the same one or two caregivers every day.  But you could be right that I'm not considering their stability enough in this equation.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2017, 10:21:50 AM »
I wouldn't be quite as concerned with attachment issues now.  It's a bigger deal when they are toddlers.

Stability isn't just for attachment, though, but it also reflects the policies of the owner or director of the center.  If there is high turnover, it may be that they aren't paying well (so employees may be more into warehousing the kids than interacting) or have poor hiring practices or aren't following standards, etc.  Child care does tend to have relatively high turnover, BUT the daycares my children most liked were the ones that had maybe 1 or 2 spots that rotated frequently and the other employees had been there for 5-20 years. When the staff felt like a family, the kids felt like part of that family too.

At one point, my kids went to a cheaper, closer-to-home day care.  They hated it.  I switched to a more expensive one a little further away, and it was a lot better environment for my childrens' personalities.  Of course, yours are so young it may be harder to tell at this point what they'll need as they age.

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Dee18

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Re: value of daycare convenience
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2017, 05:34:41 PM »
My only advice is to look ahead.  The twins won't be in the infant room much longer.  How will the rates differ in future years?  The staffing?  Any programs?