D ear Amy: My twin 13-year-old daughters earn a few extra dollars baby-sitting neighborhood children.
After my daughters completed the daylong Red Cross baby-sitting class last summer, I sent an email to a few moms who live close by, advertising my daughters’ services. I set their hourly rates at $8 an hour for one baby-sitter, or $12 an hour for both girls to baby-sit.
My husband and I both feel these are appropriate wages for their age(s) and services. The girls only baby-sit a few times per month because homework, sports and social activities are greater priorities.
After baby-sitting fewer than 15 times (for no more than two children at a time, ages 4 and older) they are complaining because their peers are making $12 an hour (which is true).
Since the age of 6 my daughters have received an age-appropriate weekly allowance for doing a short list of chores. The amount grows each year with age and responsibility. I urge them to save a few dollars each week.
Every so often, we make a trip to the bank, and they deposit their savings. I don’t badger them to do their chores, and some weeks they earn little or nothing.
I’m not sure what to do about the discrepancy between what my daughters and their friends are earning for baby-sitting. In our affluent area, I know that $12 is the going rate, but I wish it weren’t.
Should my daughters negotiate with their clients for higher wages? Should I set some parameters if they earn more money? What is the right thing to do in this situation?
— Perplexed in Suburbia
Now it’s their turn. On the one hand, they should realize that they may actually get more jobs (more work equals more income) because of their reduced rate. On the other, they have a right to negotiate a higher rate — and experience the real consequences (positive or negative) for setting a higher price.
You should expect your daughters to continue to save a percentage of their earnings, but otherwise leave the negotiation up to them.
When I asked my 4-year-old son if he wanted another baby brother or sister, he looked at his younger sister, thought a while and said, “No, let’s keep her.”