Ways To Save On Babysitting Before our children became the babysitters, we were paying for babysitters. Often our entertainment budget was able to fund a movie or dinner, but not the added cost of a baby sitter. During those times we were either creative or we were not able to go out. With a bit of planning you should be able to use the following ideas to seriously trim your babysitting budget. In the spirit of Ellen and my early years here is a collection of ideas to help you save on babysitting: Form your own co-op. OK, this is perhaps the most used idea. But here are some twists: * Friday night out club. Get three couples. Agree on a movie or event one couple will sit for the children while the other two couples go on a â€œdate night.â€ Rotate nights â€“ two nights â€˜offâ€™ and one â€˜onâ€™ â€“ good deal! * Summer school aged Zoo co-op. You and another family each get a membership to the local zoo. Set up a date each week or so for the zoo visit and alternate who take the little ones. * Sleep over co-op. Take turns watching each otherâ€™s children overnight. The visiting family brings the movie, the host family provides dinner. Join with another family and pay the sitter 1 Â½ times the going rate. That way each family saves 25% and the sitter is happy too. Promise a steady job to your young sitter. This should enable you to negotiate a fee. Ask your parents to watch the little ones, but donâ€™t overuse this option. Instead of donating money outright for high schoolerâ€™s thon or missionsâ€™ trip, promise him or her babysitting jobs. You donâ€™t get the tax deduction, but you avoid the added expense of donating for gimmicky types of fundraising. Take advantage of Motherâ€™s Day Out programs at churches. They are much less expensive than a sitter, though times are limited. Donâ€™t overlook bartering, just because most sitters are young. You may have knowledge or a service that can be bartered for such as tutoring, music lessons, sports tips or personal coaching. Strategically use play dates. Your little one may be too young to be on a sports team. But if your older child is, line up Juniorâ€™s play dates to coincide with sports. When it is your turn have Juniorâ€™s friend over when you are going to be home anyway! Check out your local Park and Recreation to see if they sponsor special events for children. Some may require an adult be present. If so get together with another family and take turns who drives and stays for the event. With a little ingenuity you should be able to arrange safe and appropriate alternatives to expensive babysitting. If you have more ideas please share them with us This was originaly published in: The Thrifty Times Reprinted with permission.