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How much to pay a babysitter

The question:
Is there a "standard" hourly rate to pay teenage babysitters for watching the kids for a few hours at night every month or so? - Carol, Carson City, Nevada

The Childcare Expert Answers:
The "standard rate" can vary depending upon the part of country you live in, the number of children you have and some intangibles (like the regularity of the hours, the experience of the babysitter etc.). If the sitter is working a set number of hours on pre-specified days, then you may wish to negotiate a rate that is slightly above what you would pay an occasional sitter. That incremental amount is compensation for her commitment to your children and the job you are offering. If it is occasional sitting for whenever you might need it, then you ought to investigate the going rate for teenage babysitters in your area. Ask friends and neighbors what they pay.

Just for your information, in my area (I live outside New York City), I pay a teenage babysitter $8 hourly (plus a tip) to watch my two sons (ages seven and nine) on the rare Saturday nights when my husband and I can get out. If I had more kids, or they were younger, or it was during the day (i.e. they're awake the whole time), I'd be paying more. I know that in New York City, a teen can get $10 or more an hour on a Saturday night -- plus cab fare! The going rate may be significantly different in your area (hopefully less!) which is why I suggest you do some asking.

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