Saving on Sitters: Creative Child Care Solutions for a Tough Economy

Finding a More Affordable Caregiver

Some families might be more comfortable seeking out a sitter that fits their price range rather than adjusting the rates and/or schedule of their current caregiver. If you're thinking of going this route, you have two options:

  • Option 1: Find a brand new child care provider in a more affordable price range.
  • Option 2: Find a new "combination caregiver," a hybrid babysitter/housekeeper.

Option 1: Finding a New Sitter

How it works
The first thing to understand about looking for a more affordable caregiver is that by lowering the rates, you may have to adjust your expectations for the kind of caregiver you'll attract.

If you want a 24-year-old sitter with 10 years of experience, training in first aid and CPR, and glowing recommendations, chances are she won't accept a job for minimum wage. That's not to suggest that an 18-year-old sitter with less experience isn't a good caregiver, but be realistic about who you're hoping to entice with the new rate.

What to do
Determine what you're willing to compromise on and what you're not, especially in terms of age and experience. For example, if you only feel comfortable with a caregiver over the age of 18, you may want to check out local colleges or

When you post your job, be sure to state your rate range so that sitters know what to expect when they contact you about the position. If you leave it open-ended by putting "negotiable," you may end up with a pool of applicants whose own rate falls outside your range.

Creative Tip: Use your reduced rate offer as "starter pay," and create a schedule through which the rate will increase after certain points. This type of incremental raise helps you absorb the cost of child care while still getting the sitter to where she needs to be financially.

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