Babysitting Rates and Buying a Van

I know, I know, shortest break ever. :stuck_out_tongue:

I make extra money by babysitting children during the week (we’re in the process of paying off massive student loan debt). Currently I provide care for two families - one 3.5 year old boy, and 2 year old twin boys, in addition to my own kids. I had been caring for the 3.5 year old’s older brother, too, until he went to kindergarten this fall. I cannot provide after school care for him at the moment because I do not have a vehicle large enough to pick him up from school (and he could not get bused to my house).

The twins are moving at the end of the month, which is going to cut into my income significantly. The parents of the other boys are really unhappy with the school aftercare and have actually pulled him from it. Ideally, they would like me to pick him up after school, and offered $400 on top of my regular wages to help us purchase a van (even with the twins gone, we don’t have a car that can seat more than 5). Starting today, the dad is actually using his lunch break to drive his son to our house.

I appreciated the offer of extra one-time money, but I’m really thinking what I need is a raise. If I am going to be picking up from school, the reality is that I’m not really going to be able to provide care for any other families (they are expecting a baby as well). My husband and I think we should just go ahead and buy an 8-passenger car, because their 3 kids plus our 2 (none being able to sit in the front seat) already fills a standard minivan, and the likelihood that we would have another child in the next few years is pretty high. However, selection is somewhat limited for 8-passengers, my husband and I have never purchased a car from non-family, and he would prefer to sell our older car rather than our newer one, so we need to come up with a lot of funds even if we buy something old (which I want to, and my husband has talked about financing but I really, really, really don’t want to!)

My thought right now is to ask the parents to please provide car seats for their children’s use (which would probably roughly equal to the $400 they are offering) and to ask for a raise. But I don’t know how much is reasonable. This is the first family I started with and they pay $120/week (4 days). I know that is a steal, but I was also new, didn’t provide transportation anywhere, and they knew I would probably care for other children. Now it’s going to be just them, * picking up from school, and I have experience. I don’t think $120/week is doable (I was planning on raising it after baby came anyway, but I think I need to do something now and then again after I begin caring for baby.)

So I guess I’m looking for two things (maybe I should have 2 threads…). What would you consider reasonable for in-home childcare, and how the heck do I buy an 8-passenger vehicle on the cheap?

(My research suggests that $250/week is reasonable for our area for 2 children, and that $400-$500 for 3 children including a baby. But that’s a HUGE increase over what they are currently paying, and they are a great family so I’d like to keep them. I think we’re both interested in working together for the long haul.)*

Here’s the Toyota Sienna ad that somebody had to post, so I’m doing it:

Hi Pennsmama-

I would break down the rates per hour for each child. Then I would add gas and vehilce usage and pick up fee to this total. I believe for business its .55 cents a mile and then add a pick up fee. Even if it’s only 2 miles a day that comes to 60.00 a month in usage alone.

The family is saving a lot with you, especially if this is a friendly arragement that is off the books.

I have no clue about the minivan though-

Glad you’re back. Told you there is lots to learn here.:thumbsup:

I kept children while mine were in Catholic school to afford it.
My 2 girls are now 23 & 21 yrs old.
So…when they were between the ages of 3 & 5 through ages 10-12 I kept children, including infants. Each family paid $100 per week and provided their own car seats. I never considered providing car seats for their kids. They showed up with them. The car seats were left in my conversion van. I did not transport anyone to school, BUT, I did take them to morning Mass a couple of days a week and anywhere I needed to go, like playgroups, and the grocery store. Sometimes we would go to a place where kids ate free, and watch people try to figure out why some of the children didn’t look alike! HA!
So I think your rates are beyond a steal.
The standard rate for mileage in my Diocese is 51 cents per mile.
Up your weekly rate, tell them to get a car seat, and calculate the mileage. They know they are getting a deal. They know it. Daycares are problematic for a lot of people. These folks have already made the decision to forego that option.
Just lay it out…and smile while you do it.
As Xan says, look for a bargain in the meantime.

It is not a good idea, but try telling my husband that. :stuck_out_tongue:

Originally, we were going to sell our 2006 CR-V, which is worth double the value of our 1999 Camry. Both have under 100,000 miles and are in good condition, but neither can seat more than five. So there is no way I can do school pickups with either of those vehicles.

I think we could find a decent car for sure if we sold the CR-V, and probably could if we sold the Camry (which is what my husband wants to do after his mother terrified him about driving in the winter - the same winter he’s been driving in with a sedan since he was 16 :rolleyes:). I don’t care if what we get is old and ugly, as long as it can drive and can fit the kids safely, and we can pay cash for it. But he doesn’t see it that way.

I had been thinking about the traditional minivan, but one that seats 8 (the Odyssey and Sienna have that option, but are harder to find.) I do take your point that I might not be babysitting forever, but I do think I am going to be for the next 3-5 years, simply because we have a ton of debt and I’m tired of it taking so long to pay off, and DH is remarkably disinterested in doing anything to help on his end (been working on that for years…)

Edit: I don’t mean to sound so harsh about DH. He just thinks we can afford to finance a $15,000+ vehicle when we’ve never been able to do that for the entirety of our marriage, even when we both worked full-time and had no kids. He works with budgets everyday at his job, but try to show him ours and he doesn’t get that there are things we just can’t afford. I think Dave Ramsey breaks people down into two groups: spenders and savers, and he’s a spender. Seems to think money grows on trees. :stuck_out_tongue: He also doesn’t know that he’s a spender, because to him spending is just living.

Sometimes, I might just need to wait before I vent. :stuck_out_tongue:

DH found a very reasonably priced 2006 Grand Caravan on Craigslist sold by a newish dealer. So we’re going to go look at it tomorrow. It seats seven, but apparently can be converted to 8 if we ever needed to do it.

I’m very happy that DH was willing to keep looking and keep it in a price range where we can afford to pay with cash!

Can you figure out how to calculate the break even point where your daycare pays for the extra cost of the new vehicle? I have a really bad feeling about the math on that one. I haven’t tried to do the numbers, but my concern is that it will take you 5 years to pay off your new vehicle, by which time it will be time to buy a new car again, so that you will have made absolutely no headway on your debt, despite changing thousands of other people’s kids’ diapers. Which will make you resentful…And that’s if the plan goes perfectly and you aren’t forced to quit for some unforeseen reason.

I think that what DR would tell you is that you can’t do this alone, and that you can’t pay off your debt with your husband spending and you trying to pay off debt. DR would tell you that the way to get out of debt is to stop getting into new debt.

Not sure how to sell your husband on this. Maybe you should tell him that the reason you are killing yourself with daycare kids is that you want to get out of debt, not because you want new cars and that keeping other people’s kids in your home forever is not your life plan.

We paid cash for our new Kia Sedona this summer, by the way–our second vehicle and the first time we have managed to pay cash for a car. It was awesome.

I saw a Honda minivan this morning with a $4900 price tag on the window. Maybe there were some huge issues that weren’t visible from the street (super high mileage or whatever) but I suppose that’s more or less what you want.

Good luck!


This summer, we’d been thinking that we’d never find a 60,000 or so mileage minivan for under $15k in our area (and we were kind of afraid that what we wanted was going to be closer to $20k than $15k), but we also had a very lucky Craigslist find of that 2011 Kia Sedona.

Craigslist is amazing!

Oh yeah. I have used Craigslist a lot for buying and selling. I got a great almost new kitchen table for $30 earlier this spring, that easily could have sold for $100 or more if the owner hadn’t been in a hurry to finish moving.

I’m hoping this works out. Also trying to not hope TOO much. :wink:

Thanks for telling me about your experience!

The thing is, I think I could double the rate and still be offering them a great deal…but can I really double the rate? How do I sell that to the parents? (I also feel guilty about asking for more money, which is probably really misplaced.)

I don’t know about what the rate ought to be, but don’t worry about “selling it” to the parents. You inform the parents that going forward your rate is going to be X [whatever you decide X will be] and ask if they plan to continue working with you. Maybe say that the new rate will kick in after the new baby arrives? And break it down for them in terms of weekly charge per child, school pickup charge, etc, as a previous poster suggested.

They will probably come back to you with a lower rate and you’ll have to decide whether to take it or leave it.

If you’re doing more work, you need more money.

Good luck!

Well, I would not double the rate. It might be justified, but psychologically, it would upset them, and they would think you simply have them over a barrel. Don’t want to alienate them and lose the business if you just bought a vehicle to accommodate them! (Mention that as well). I would tell them that you are going with the current mileage, calculate the gas, (1/2 tank per week, let’s say) and maybe raise the rates by 1/2. Explain that it would have gone up by 3/4, but you that you understand they will provide their own car seats.
School pick-up is a huge deal, and why the day cares charge so much. They won’t balk, I don’t think.
And when they drop out someday, when you get new inquiries…double your rate.
These people have a good history with you. They will most likely be fair, and you should also be fair as they have been good customers.
Good luck! Sounds like things are looking up!

Last night I went ahead and did the math.

I provide care for 37 hours per week for the 3.5 year old. For the 6 year old, I will be providing care for 25 hours per week, and driving 30 miles/week to and from school to pick him up (3 miles there and then 3 miles back, 5 times per week).

If I bump up to $180/week (the 50% increase pianistclare suggested as the max, and I agree with her about sticker shock even if double is fair around here), that works out to $3/hr for the 3 year old, $2/hr for the 6 year old, and just over the standard $0.55/mile rate. (Sticking strictly to the formula it’s $177.50).

I think for 3 I might increase it 50% again to $270, or maybe even $300 (since infant care is a lot more involved.) I know plans can change, but I’m not just assuming that they will want me to care for baby - when they first interviewed me they told me they were planning on more children and wanted someone who would be good for babies as well as older kids, and since getting pregnant the mom has repeated that she wants me to care for their baby once it comes.

I usually don’t use the word “nanny” because the kids come to my house, but I do think if I am offering paid care exclusively to one family what they are paying should reflect that to some degree.

Oh gosh. Well, now that you’ve done the math, I agree, it’s too little. 2 bucks and hour doesn’t compensate for the personal liability you take on for a toddler or a baby.
I’d say no less than $300, now that we have a better ide of what you were charging.
God love you…those children are lucky to have you! and so are their parents.
I charged 100 per child, no matter how many from the family. Flat rate, and like I said, it was eons ago.
Don’t forget to factor in the gas!

If you have the six year old for 25 hours a week, that’s a different story. I was thinking along the lines of two hours a day after school, for four days, which only comes to eight hours. (Yikes! How late do these folks work?)

Well, he’s only in half day kindergarten, so that’s why it’s still 25 hours per week. There is no full day option. The kids get picked up at 6pm three days, and 3pm the other day I have them.

Just got home from a full day of car shopping and it was a total bust. The Grand Caravan was probably flooded at some point and we got a lot of people pushing cars that were out of our budget, saying “but it’s only x per month!” No thanks.

The one upside is that I think DH realizes we’re going to have more luck doing a private sale (plus we can get more for the car we want to sell, anyway.) I know people have to make a living, but I do NOT like car dealerships.


We test drove a van today that is well within our price range and in very good condition, sold by a guy who lives 2 miles away from us. He’s actually interested in the car we have now (that we want to sell). He is willing to trade our cars plus have us pay him an additional $500, as long as our car checks out at his mechanic’s. We are supposed to take the car on Friday, and if all is well we’ll have our new-to-us van on Saturday.

I know this is such a small thing compared to everything else going on in the world, but I would really appreciate prayers for this to work out!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit