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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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Easy tips to save on baby sitters and how to figure how much to pay one.

This week for Frugal Date Friday we are going to talk about the thing that makes frugal dates hard: babysitting. Babysitters, especially good ones, can be very expensive. So, we are going to figure out some ways to still have a real one-on-one date night and keep it frugal.

As moms, we can feel guilty for leaving the kids at home. It is also painful to spend $50 on babysitting, but we know how important one-on-one quality time with your spouse is. It is vital to a marriage. You need a chance to connect and grow as adults, without worrying about what your two year old is getting into. Thankfully, there are ways to save.

Ask Family & Close Friends

People who love your kids will usually gladly babysit for free or at a low rate. They love the chance to bond with them and are excited to babysit. If they live out of town, you can even send older kids to stay with family for a couple of days. It makes everyone happy.

Trade Off On Babysitting

One of the best ways to save is to trade off babysitting with another family. You will just need to find a family you trust and ask. You will keep each others kids so everyone gets a date night. You could even find a couple of families to do this with.

Have Dates At Home

If you have young kids and you can put them to bed early, then you can have great date nights at home. You can make a special meal, put the electronics away, and enjoy your time together. It’s a great, frugal way to still have special time while on a very limited budget.

Pick A Younger Sitter

I’m not suggesting you ask an 8 year old to babysit, but younger sitters charge less generally. You can typically pay high school students less than college students. Just make sure you hire a responsible person and you trust them fully. Sitters also charge less if they aren’t driving since they don’t have to pay for gas and insurance.

Go On A Mini-Date

If you have limited funds, you can just go on a shorter date. Half the time equals half the sitter bill. You can tell your sitter in advance you will only need them for an hour or two. You’ll still have plenty of time to go on a date while only spending $10-$20 on babysitting.

How Much To Pay Sitters

How much to pay a sitter varies greatly depending on where you live, how old your kids are, and what they are required to do. Sitters typically charge more to babysit younger kids. A great way to figure out the going rate in your area is to ask how much other parents are spending.

If you go out on a regular basis, like twice a month, the sitter may give you a better deal in exchange for consistent babysitting.

I asked moms in Columbia, SC and their most popular answers:

-Take minimum wage and then add $2/hour for each kid after the first one
-$10-$12 per hour (kids are already fed and ready for bed)

In my opinion, if the sitters do more with the kids and clean, it is worth it to pay them more.

I’ve had people ask about paying sitters with shampoo, body wash, etc. that they get for free at drug stores. In very rare cases a sitter may be okay with this, but in general, I don’t think this is the best way to pay sitters. You may be able to pay them a little less and make up for the difference with products. Just remember, they can’t pay for gas, clothes, or food with shampoo.

Be sure to ask your sitter how much they charge or tell them upfront what you pay. This gives them the option to decline the job if they aren’t content with the pay.

Please share additional tips for saving on babysitting in the comments below!

See more frugal living ideas.

    • Amelia

      When my kids were under age 5, we formed a babysitting co-op in our neighborhood. If you sat for someone else’s child, your account got 1 credit for each hour or portion thereof. Likewise, if someone sat for your child, your account was debited a credit for each hour. We monitored the accounts to make sure that they were not too far from zero over time. We found rules online and revised them to fit our group. One of the rules was that all parents (Moms & Dads) took child CPR. This was accomplished by hiring an instructor to come to one of our meetings. This co-op was a godsend as we had no family nearby and our neighborhood teenagers did not want to care for infants. Best of all, it didn’t cost anything!

    • suemac1

      We set up a trade relationship with another family we knew well. Each couple got one ‘date night’ a week – we each picked a particular night of the week so it was easy to keep track of and plan for. When the kids got old enough we expanded that to an overnight stay. We’ve had over 13 years of free date nights and it’s been wonderful!

    • Bethiepoo

      I just have to comment on the paying babysitters with shampoo idea: Please don’t. Think about how you would feel if you got a job and your boss tried to pay you with soap, shampoo, etc. that you weren’t able to pick out for yourself (and that the boss had gotten for free/cheap anyway). That would get old quick! Plus word gets around when you are a cheapskate and don’t treat people fairly. No one will want to babysit for you if all they leave with is soap. They also might think you are trying to give them a hint about their hygiene which would only make them leave with a bad impression.

      If you can’t afford to pay your sitter a decent wage, then find another way (like sitter swapping) to handle your child care needs. Your babysitter is taking care of the most precious people in the world to you. It is best to treat them accordingly.

    • Rose Bud

      I like all these suggestions.If you know your child can be “difficult” than maybe along with paying them cash throw in a goodie bag of shampoo etc just to keep a good babysitter in your pocket

    • Rose Bud

      I like all these suggestions.If you know your child can be “difficult” than maybe along with paying them cash throw in a goodie bag of shampoo etc just to keep a good babysitter in your pocket

    • tori729

      We pay on a case by case basis depending on what the sitter did/how often etc. Also – if people offer, take them up on it!! We have some friends who don’t have kids who have offered to babysit for free and we have taken advantage. One night it was last minute and they only watched our youngest; our other two were in bed. But they stayed late and we ended up paying them a good amount even though they didn’t ask for it.
      I also trade babysitting with someone who lives local when I have to go to the dentist or get my hair done or something during the day. It’s usually only 1-2 hours and we just ask each other to do it every once in awhile. I think if someone offers, don’t be afraid to be the first person to get the ball rolling and then they won’t be scared to ask you sometimes.

      Oh and we usually get high schoolers to watch our kids so we pay about $8/hour usually. We usually bring our kids to their house so they don’t have to drive which makes it easier for them so we don’t feel obligated to pay them as much because of that.

    • Grace B.

      As a sitter myself I appreciate $10/hour. I’m 25 and like to babysit to make extra money in the evenings. Babysitting in the evenings usually means that the kids are in bed for a good portion of your stay. In that sense, I don’t feel like I need to ask for more because I’m often watching T.V. for part of the time.

      I’ve done trades before as well. My friend who is an artist has two boys. A painting of hers was selling for $250 and I traded her 25 hours of work. Some was sitting and some was helping her in the studio. If you have something you can offer in return, sitters might consider a trade.

      Another tip for saving money is to share a sitter with a friend. I babysit for a 13-month-old and his “friend” came over, 9 months. His parents brought a pack and play for him to sleep in and both couples got to have a date night with one sitter. I didn’t charge extra because again, they were sleeping.