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Help! How do YOU Save on Babysitting Costs?

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Did you know that babysitters average over $13 an hour?! This means that even if you’ve planned a “HIP” and frugal night out on the town without the kids in tow, you’ll likely be paying hefty babysitting costs to leave the kids at home. With that being said, how do YOU save on babysitting costs? Is it OK to pay a babysitter in movie tickets or other merchandise that you’ve scored on the cheap? Please share your thoughts!

Mary is a senior copywriter with 9+ years in frugal tips & deals. She has a Bachelors in Human Resources Interdisciplinary Studies. Connect with Mary on LinkedIn

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Comments 196

  1. Val

    Babysitting and day cares really are on average $14 an hour. I think its reasonable and theres no need to pay in other ways unless its just for like 2 hours then gift cards and movie tickets would be okay. It also depends how old the kids are. Its tougher watching toddlers and babies while kids over 5 are easier..i wouldnt pay a sitter who watches my toddler or baby in gift cards. They deserve cash for all the hard work

  2. Brandi

    We live in a big city. We pay High School age sitters $10-12/hr for 2 children ages 6 & 7, and round up to the full hour. Adult sitter we pay $15/hr. We tried to use our neighbor’s nanny and she quoted us $20/hr. We told her we weren’t interested. I use a mother’s helper some days when I’m home. She’s in middle school and I pay her $8/hr.

  3. Jenny

    I think cash is best…otherwise you are deciding how their wage is spent which isn’t fair to them. As a bonus for a regular babysitter, I think it’s great to give a gift card, movie tickets, etc. We’ve always felt like babysitters are an area not to skimp on….we are trusting them with the people who are most precious to us.

  4. Cassandra

    Anyone work 2nd shift that requires a nanny? I may be working 230-1030 soon but am a single parent and unsure if I can afford $13 per hour. Wondering if anyone has any tips on that kind of schedule/situation.

    • K

      Check local day cares. Some might have a night shift. You’d probably end up paying a little more.

  5. Adrian

    As a single mother of 6, I rarely ever have a night out. My oldest is 16 and responsible enough that I can leave him in charge of the others for a few hours if need be, but I don’t abuse that. They are my kids, not his, so I let him be a teen and not the parent. I absolutely love spending time with my kids and frequently babysit their friends. Their friends love hanging out in our home. Their parents usually give me $40 or $50 a night. It comes in handy, every little bit counts as I only work part time in order to be around for my kids.

  6. Katie

    I think I babysat in the wrong area and the wrong time period, because I never made anywhere near that much 10-15 years ago! I guess I need to start a second job!

  7. Erin

    We live in the Chicago area and we pay $22 an hour for four children eight and under, one with a medical condition that requires care – including injections. Our wonderful sitter cooks, cleans, folds laundry, etc when the kids are sleeping, but I know when they are awake she is interacting with them and keeping them on task with any instructions I’ve given. She is in college. I’m a stay at home mom and I want my “replacement” to know her work is valuable to us …and I want her to want to be available when we need her!

  8. Rochelle

    We have a family membership to our local YMCA in Norfolk, VA and they have a Parents’ Night Out twice a month from 6-9 pm on Friday nights. Best part…it’s free with our membership! They don’t feed them at the Y so I just feed my 4 kids something simple and drop them off. Yay for date night!!!

  9. Jenny

    Wow. I can’t imagine paying anyone that amount of money. And I wouldn’t consider it skimping on my kids. But some people are saying $13 to $15 an hour and emphasizing CASH, well that is just worse. That is my income and my husbands combined after taxes and you are paying them CASH. I think we should quit our job and go into childcare if people are paying that much! 10 years ago, I was paid $95 a week (9 to 10 hours a day 5 days a week) for 3 kids. And the couple were VERY well off and I thought I was making good money. But a warning to all of you out there paying cash or paying for a sitter at all, might want to check into the IRS website. In the past few years there have been new laws on what you are liable for. Even before these new rules, my sister in law was audited and hit hard on taxes for someone she was paid 3 days a week to watch her one child. The parents decided to put it on their taxes for a child care credit and she was not aware. Just because you are payign them cash under the table, doesn’t mean that later you won’t be liable for their social security. Check into it. And the amount of money you pay someone, does not guarantee they are taking care of your kids. I refuse to leave my kids alone with ANYONE because of all the videos out there of what people are doing to them. Care.com was a good example. They have some sketchy reviews and high prices. And some of the people caught on video were from there. My husbands employer offered discounts through them so I had considered it until I did a thorough investigation.

    • R

      $12. a hour is what fast food workers make in MANY areas so why not at least that or more that for someone who cares for precious children? I do think it is necessary to do the research on who’s caring for children whether a nanny, daycare worker, or babysitter.

      • Jenny

        The research is because these people that are paying these people this high wage, can be liable for unemployment and social security because of the new laws. If you pay someone more than (I think it said) $1800 in a year, you are liable for this. But like a few have said, they have a degree and don’t make this much. I stated that my husband and I combined, don’t make this AFTER taxes so why should someone who is babysitting make this and not have to pay taxes? I don’t have a degree but my husband does. And the work I do, is much harder than a fast food worker and I don’t make that amount. They are trying to pay fast food workers more here but for some reason, fast food workers feel they deserve a higher wage without having a degree. Fast food is a transitional job not meant to pay bills for adults. Fast food work was meant for high school children. But that aside, if you pay someone a high wage, you are responsible for much more than you know and it could bite you in the bottom in the end.

  10. Sporksoma

    Ha ha ha! Nights out? Ha ha ha!!!!!

  11. Kim

    I have a daughter who is 14 years old. She is in High School and is a great babysitter. I don’t expect her to get paid $15.00 or more per hour. I know how expensive it is to go out and how much it is needed for parents to get away for a few hours. She has a lot of fun watching people’s kids so it’s not like a job to her. I always tell her to let people pay her what they want and what they can afford. She always comes home with plenty in my opinion. When she gets a job elsewhere she is not going to get paid the “big bucks” so I don’t want her to start to expect that.

  12. Carole In Upstate SC

    In my area, Greenville, SC, there are many kid-oriented businesses that offer a Parents Night Out / Kids Night Out. Some of the karate places, the county, The Little Gym, Pump It Up, one of the trampoline parks and the children’s theater. They range in price from $15 – $30 for 3-4 hours and they even feed your child a pizza dinner, most places include it in the price. So @ $15 for 3 hours, that’s only $5 / hour! Here they are mostly all on Friday nights. I am a single mom so I know 3-4 Fridays a month I can run errands, relax at home or even go out to dinner or a movie. Check the places your kids take classes, maybe they offer the same type of thing in your area. Good luck finding one !

  13. Samantha

    Make other mom friends and take turns watching each others kids for free! I’ve done this for nights out as well as dr. appointments. As someone who babysat in college, I would say be realistic with yourself about how much trouble your kids are and pay accordingly. My 2 year old is a hand full and I’m due to have another next week. If I were to pay someone hourly to watch him and a newborn I wouldn’t pay less than $15/hr. More if my baby was a fussy baby, had reflux or had colic like my first. Also if you want to make your sitter feel appreciated, if you know they had a rough time with your kids, or watched your kids when they were sick, I would suggest tipping, or gifting a gift card or movie tickets in those instances.

  14. Nikki

    I don’t trust to leave my kids with anyone! Doctor office has to accept them sitting in my room if my husband can’t watch them or I go elsewhere/delay visit! Husband and I only go on a date when we visit grandparents or they visit us! Places that offer parents night out etc sounds nice but I don’t know the people there watching the kids so nope! It is hard- especially when you need to go to doctors and no help, but there is way too many scary stories!! I know eventually I will have to trust someone with my kids and at that point- 1) I will be getting as much information on person as I can/anyone coming in/out (still no guarantees) 2) they must do educational activities the whole time they are watching my kids 3) price isn’t going to deter me as my babies are the most important thing to me!! I won’t be cheap but I won’t accept something that won’t fit in budget either! I am even nervous about putting trust in school when they reach school age!

  15. Kris

    Trade with friends that have kids. You watch one date night, they watch another. Or have your older kids or relatives watch. They usually don’t want money but a gift card or nice gesture would let them know your appreciation. But I agree with cash for babysitters, they should not be limited on what they can spend that hard earned money on so with that said $14 is too much for a teenager. They should not be making as much as I was after graduating with a 4 yr college degree.

  16. Mary L

    I live in Wisconsin and daycare teachers in my mid-sized town get paid around $9/hour at certified daycare centers. Our cost of living is much lower—and average salaries too.

  17. Amy

    My siblings and I take turns about once a month one of us will host a sleepover for all of the kids, giving the other 2 siblings and their spouse that night off to do what they please. It’s just as fun for me to have all of the kids over as it is to get the night out haha. And the kids all love it as well! We plan games, movies, and crafts. Typical sleepover activities.

    • Amy

      Also, forgot to mention that I don’t think it’s appropriate to pay with anything other than cash. If you’d like the tip or give a bonus to someone who does an exceptional job, then I’m all for the gift cards, movie tickets etc. I just don’t feel it’s fair to put someone in that position when they’re liking only looking for babysitting jobs because they need the money.

  18. Jennifer

    No, it’s not ok to pay in anything outside of cash. When I was in high school I made $20/hr (15 years ago) and where I live now they charge at least $20/hr, but daycare here is also almost $500/wk for one kid, so…

  19. Bethany

    Skip hiring sitters all together: befriend another family with similar age children–church, school, dance or sports class, mops groups, etc. are good places to find friends–and then trade off nights. Personally I’d rather leave my kids with another parent I know than provide an inexperienced teenager with additional disposable income

  20. Emily

    Now, I do not have children of my own, but when I was in high school (Mid 2000’s) I was getting paid around $5-7 an hour to babysit two children ages 7 and 2. That was right around minimum wage. For a high school babysitter, that should be fine.

    I have a four year college degree and a job in my field and get paid around the same amount as some of the babysitters I see in the comments – that doesn’t seem right.

    If you want to save on a babysitter, call up a family member. They have the added advantage of already loving the kids! Grandmas and Grandpas love to take the kids. Aunties and Uncles are happy to do it for free as well.

    • Kate

      ^this is one of the hardest things for us about living out of state! So far from family and the grandparents!

  21. Kristy

    You should befriend a nice couple who you trust, and maybe have kids of their own, and then exchange babysitting nights.

  22. Rose

    One of my children’s preschool teacher offers babysitting service when she is off on the weekend to make extra income. She charge us $10 an hour. She comes to our house. It works out for us because our kids are familiar with her (our kids were either currently in her class or graduated from her class) and she knows how to handle kids professionally. I thinks it’s funny because the kids think I brought preschool home to them and they actually behave so well with her. Otherwise we utilize grandma and auntie.

  23. Kristina

    How crazy is this- I’ve gotten as much as 25 an hour for babysitting- I’m 30 minutes from NYC and people are willing to pay that!!!!

  24. Rachel

    We always traded off with friends. Now that my daughter is almost 12, it sounds like I need to get her in cpr and first aid classes so she can babysit and make some money if her own! I never got that much money!

  25. Banana

    I am 26 years old. The lady I sit for found me on care.com. I sit for 2 girls ages 2 and 5, I have been watching them since the youngest was a year old so I have established a pretty good relationship with them. Since I started I have always gotten the same amount of 10 dollars an hour. I sit for a few hours each time about 8-12 times per year and additionally some overnights, and weekends. I love the girls and the amount I get paid is fine with me! I feel like I could do it for free:)

  26. Sharon

    I made at least $10 per hour babysitting at 16 which was over 15 years ago! I paid 1200 per month for full time daycare for 1 child, which is a moderate, not highest price. I don’t trust anyone with my kids except 2 close mom friends, my parents and my in-laws, all of whom are fine with watching them. I live in North Jersey 20ish miles outside of NYC. My friends pay 12-15 per hour for babysitters. It’s all cash.

  27. Jo

    I used to babysit a family with three young and extremely loud / wild kids. It was usually a 6hr job (at least). I would get $20. I HATED it!!! The pay-to-work ratio was awful!! I would clean the whole house and deal with winey screaming children. I will NEVER babysit again!!! I have been scarred for life! Lol

  28. CJ

    I watch my granddaughters, age 4 and 8. Since birth. For a time I lived with them, so it was like I was always”on”.
    I moved into my own place. I’m widowed, disabled with autoimmune illnesses, but I function most of the time.
    I adore my gdaughters.
    But, my daughter has a home based business, averages $50-$70 an hour.
    My youngest will go to school in the fall. I love love love them, but at times I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. I have my hands full taking care of my elderly parents.
    I did daycare when my kids were little. One day I looked around and had 18 kids I was watching that day.
    I was making $180 in a good week.
    It’s all about location.
    I congratulate all you parents guarding your children!
    We are blessed with their lives and well being. For all of you struggling with $ and finding someone safe to watch your Babies, remember this…
    One day you are holding that precious baby, looking into her eyes and know you have been captured by her heart and her grace.
    The next moment she is going to her prom, then graduation from high school, then college and a big wedding.
    We blink our eyes and she or he have grown up, needing us less.
    Time passes so quickly! And when they leave the nest, you and your husband can go out on date night all the time.
    I lost my husband 7 years ago to suicide.
    I wish we could have date night once more!
    As for the bonus freebies, tip that sitter with gift cards. She will loyal to you and yours.
    I love this website!

    • Shell

      That’s amazing of you CJ. Don’t forget to make time for yourself & enjoy life. It sounds like you have your hands full. And I agree gift cards are always nice. I received a $50 gas gc once as a xmas gift which was way nice & not expected from the family I watched back in my College days.

  29. nadia

    I had no night out for almost 5 years now. My husband is the only one who works and we have two kids – 5 and 1.5. his salary is $13/hour, and was 10 before that. I cannot afford even $5 per hour. Don’t get me wrong, – there are people like me (first time emigrant) who cannot do much about their sircumstances. I have no family who’d like to watch my kids. with rent prices went high in my area I realy have to think how to feed my family and not about going out. however it was very scary for me to go to labor second time and having nobody i can leave my daughter with.

  30. Tori

    I think of it this way:
    You are putting the life/lives of your child(ren) in the hands of someone else. Do you want them to have cpr? First aid? That costs money to be certified every year for cpr and every two years for first aid. Also, this person needs to make enough money to live as well. More often than not, babysitters and preschool/daycare staff spend more time with your children during the week than you do. (Sleeping hours don’t count.) So from a past daycare teacher and a future elementary teacher; as an elementary education and English major student with a minor in childhood studies, pay your babysitters more. It is a large responsibility to watch over your children when you are not around.

  31. Kate

    If I am hiring an actual sitter, I always pay cash. However, most of the time my girlfriends and I just do what we call “kid swapping.” One of them will watch my kids when my husband and I have a date night, and then the next time my friend has date night with her husband we will keep their kids in return. The only times we really need to hire a sitter are the nights my friends and I all want to go out together ๐Ÿ™‚ I am just glad my kids are in school full time because I only make $15/hr at my full time job working as an orthodontic assistant – so if I was having to pay a sitter to watch them while I worked I would be in the red!

  32. Betty

    I have a daycare that is open until midnight. Past her normal three hours for after school it is $5 a hour.

  33. amiablejak

    I am a single woman with no kids. Check with your single friends. They might love a chance to spend an evening with your kids to give you a night out. I once spent every Tuesday night for a year with my friends new baby so she could attend a class with her other kids. I won’t be having any of my own, so I get to enjoy my friends children. That is payment enough.

  34. Irina

    Now that my Husband and I have 3 girls I find it practically impossible to go out. We occassionally go on vacations and trips as a whole family. We take turns going out but together as a couple without kids that never happened. Sitters and childcare are too expensive for our budget! So we make do without them…maybe once we get an empty nest we will be able to take advantage of that but for now it will remain like this and thats ok. They are my children and my responsibility!

  35. Elisa

    No, it’s never okay to pay your babysitter in merchandise, especially when they are expecting cash. If you have an adult friend who agrees in advance to take merchandise, like food staples or candles, then that is a whole different game:bartering.

  36. Natoli

    I babysit a couple times a week and I only get paid $6 an hour.

  37. Christine

    I got paid $5 an hour three days a week for three boys a couple of years ago. Man! I think I was shortchanged.

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