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Are You Underpaying Your Babysitter?

If you’ve been a parent for any length of time, you know there are two kinds of babysitters: Those who tell you their rates and those who don’t.

Maybe your caregiver has a fixed hourly fee but recently asked for a raise. Or maybe they’re a family friend who allows you to name your price—even if it’s less than they’d actually like.

Either way, what’s your obligation as an “employer”? According to a national survey by, babysitters earned an average of $13.44 per hour last year. Sitters earning the lowest hourly wage were in Grand Rapids, MI at $11.31, while the highest paid were in San Francisco at $16.65.

In just five years, the average babysitter’s wage has increased 28%. That’s up from $10.50 in 2009.

So how does your pay stack up? Unlike restaurant tipping, there’s no widely accepted standard when it comes to rewarding (and therefore keeping) a good sitter. But that’s no excuse to underpay your hardworking help.

Here are eight practical tips from to help you answer this complicated question of pay:

  • Never pay less than minimum wage—ever.
  • See what other sitters in your area are charging. Ask around or check out a handy pay rate calculator like this one.
  • Are you in a city? If so, expect to pay more.   
  • Age and experience matter. A qualified nanny with CPR training can charge more than a 14-year-old you have to drive home at the end of the night.
  • More kids equal more pay. So add $2–5 per hour for each additional child. (That means no letting your friends freeload off your sitter when you go out together.)
  • Reliability and loyalty count. If you’ve had the same, awesome sitter for years, consider a pay raise—even if they don’t ask for it.
  • Holidays typically cost more, especially if you’re booking last minute!
  • If your sitter goes above and beyond (like your kitchen sink isn’t full of stuck-on pizza dishes when you get home) think about rounding up or adding a tip.

Paying your sitter shouldn’t be a budgeting afterthought—it should be a priority. This person is responsible for the most precious people in your life for several hours. So keep your quality caregivers by rewarding exceptional service with a fair-market wage. 

Great sitters are worth it.

The new EveryDollar budget tool helps you personalize your budget to meet your needs—including babysitters! Learn more about setting up your budget, syncing it across devices, and updating it at any time.

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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