So you have found the right nursery for your child. Then you ask how much the fees are, and that’s when you realise sending your offspring to an early education institution is going to cost – big time. But there are ways to cut the cost of sending your child to nursery.

A child’s nursery days are when they take their first steps towards independence, so finding the right place to suit their needs is key. However, there are over 125 nurseries in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and with fees ranging from AED6,000 to AED60,000, it’s something that is going to affect your finances.

Here are top 10 tips to help you meet the cost of sending a child to nursery:

1. Plan ahead

Before your child even goes to nursery, consider how those fees are going to affect your budget. It is an expensive undertaking and while many companies cover the cost of an employee’s school education, that does not extend to nursery care. By looking at your budget and evaluating what you can realistically afford, it will help you make the right decision both from a monetary point of view as well as a financial one.

2. Compare, compare, compare

There is a huge range in what you can spend. Rather than sending your child to the nursery all your friends use, compare the nurseries out there online first and then visit them in person or request a call back. What your friend thinks is good may not be right for you or your wallet.

3. Pick a nursery that includes lunch

While some nurseries provide meals, others don’t and that does not necessarily reflect in the price. A nursery that offers lunch and snacks can still be cheaper that one that doesn’t which means you would be paying to supply your own food on top of higher fees. By opting for a nursery that includes meals it will not only save you money but also save time packing lunch boxes everyday.

4. Sibling discounts

Paying for nursery is expensive enough but paying for two or maybe three is double or triple the price. However, some nurseries offer a sibling discount, typically around 5% of the fees, so ask when you enrol your second child if that applies.

5. Pay early

Some nurseries will offer a discount if you pay early i.e. before the end of the previous term or a year upfront. If you have the money and it translates into paying AED1,000 less in the long run, then go for it.

6. Pay installments

If, on the other hand, you don’t have the cash, then visit the accounts department and ask if you can pay in installments. Some nurseries will allow you to pay monthly with post-dated cheques giving you time to earn the money to pay for it.

7. Book in for the minimum

If you want your child to have nursery care but don’t have the budget for it, find out what the minimum attendance is. While some nurseries cater more towards working parents and have a minimum attendance of three days, others will take your child for a couple of mornings a week. This will give your offspring some nursery exposure and save you some cash.

8. Don’t use aftercare

If you’re not working, pick your child up at 12.30 everyday rather than opting for the aftercare sessions that can be more costly as you often pay by the hour.

9. Pick a time and stick to it

If you do work, however, use aftercare and calculate exactly when you will pick up your child every day. If you think you can be there at 5pm every afternoon, select that option and stick to it even if you think you can be there earlier on other days. If you book pick up times that are different for each day of the week, it can cost more than a consistent later slot.

10. Don’t be late

While being late will upset your child, it will also upset your finances. Nurseries can charge late pick up fees so if you are consistently late it can become a rather expensive habit.