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How do you manage expenses in a nanny share?

Determining how nanny share families split costs is important to do up front. Here's how to cover all your bases.

How do you manage expenses in a nanny share?

By this stage in the game, you’ve found a partner family and the nanny for your nanny share. You’ve started to talk about what the nanny’s hourly rate might be and other questions about cost — like who pays when one share family buys an extra car seat or when one kid is sick? Determining how you’ll share costs up front is important, but it can be difficult to be sure you’re covering all your bases.

To help you work this all out, we talked to six parents who are currently part of a nanny share. We asked their advice on how to split the costs that come with doing a nanny share. Here are some factors to consider when deciding how to handle any cost you and your partner family may encounter.

Tips for managing nanny share expenses

Snacks, activities, payment when one family is on vacation — expenses can get convoluted in a nanny share, which is why figuring out how you’re going to broach everything is key. Check out this advice from nanny share families who have been there, done that.

Have an in-person meeting

Most parents we talked to agreed that face-to-face meetings with their share family were important when discussing finances. In these meetings, families determined things like how often they would pay their nanny and what method of payment they would use.

Ken, a dad from New York, says he and his share family each pay their portion of the share’s hours separately at the end of each week. Another parent, a mom from San Francisco, adds that determining when to pay the nanny is important to figure out right away. “You need to agree if you’re going pay the nanny monthly, biweekly or weekly,” she says.

Finally, it’s important to figure out how you’re going to pay the nanny. While San Francisco Mom uses Venmo, another mom we spoke to from Boston says she uses Care’s HomePay.

Determine who pays when the nanny or a child is sick

Share families tend to compensate the nanny at a lower hourly rate when one of the children is sick or when the nanny is sick. A sick policy is generally established at the beginning of the agreement, and this policy is often included in your nanny share contract.

Wanda, a mother from Cambridge, Massachusetts, says that each family in her share pays the nanny a rate of $10 per hour — or $20 per hour total. Each family calculated the nanny’s pay at the end of every week by multiplying their $10-per-hour rate by the number of hours she cared for their child. This rate changed when a child or the nanny was sick.

When one child is sick, the nanny earns $16 per hour — as opposed to her usual hourly rate of $20. The share family with the well child pays the nanny $10 per hour, and the family with the sick child contributes $6 per hour. When the nanny was ill, she is paid half her normal rate for a $10 hourly total — or $5 per hour per family.

Meanwhile, Virginia, a mom from Richmond, Virginia, says that the families in her nanny share pay the nanny a total of $18 per hour for watching two children (or $9 per family per hour) and $15 per hour for one child. If one kid is sick, they calculate the nanny’s hourly rate based on the number of children present. Because they agreed that the nanny is paid $15 per hour for watching just one kid, the family of the well child is responsible for paying the nanny’s single-child rate.

Make an “unanticipated expenses” game plan

Your nanny may need enough gear for multiple children for a number of reasons. Maybe you’re switching hosting locations frequently, or maybe you’d like the nanny to take the kids out of the house often. In general, when a family needs to buy something like an additional stroller or car seat, share families split costs right down the middle. For example, in Wanda’s low-key nanny share, each family bought and paid for its own stroller.

We also spoke to one mom from Portland, Oregon, who says that the families in her nanny share agreed to split purchases as equally and fairly as possible. Specifically, they did this by developing a detailed plan of how they share the cost of their unforeseen expenses. “We went into detail to make sure everybody was comfortable with it and it was very fair,” she explains.

For example, if one family decides to buy a double stroller, they’re considered to be the “primary owner” of that stroller and have full ownership of it. However, if the other family decides that they want to be an equal owner of the stroller, they can pay the primary purchasing family their half of the stroller, minus any depreciation costs. She’s responsible for tracking their shared expenses on a Google Doc, and settles it every quarter. Then, each family pays an equal amount.

“It was so less about the emotional attachment, and more about let’s be objective about this and find a fair ground,” she says. She adds that the families also split the cost of the children’s food based on who hosts. The family that hosts supplies lunch and snacks for the children. Each family keeps a shopping list of the children’s preferred foods.

Determine who will keep track of costs

The majority of families we talked to had a member who took charge of tracking data for the nanny share — from taxes in some cases, to the number of hours each family used the nanny in others. Most use Google Docs to manage the information because it’s collaborative, and everyone with access to the document can easily see any changes or updates. Some prefer to have a neutral third party or service track payroll — such as HomePay.

Wanda keeps a spreadsheet to track taxes. Meanwhile, Ken is his group’s unofficial time tracker. He created a Google Doc to track the nanny’s hours. Ken said the families email each other a nanny share schedule each week. He then enters the week’s hours for the nanny share, broken down by the hours the nanny cares for his daughter only, the hours she cares for his share family’s child one-on-one, and the hours she cares for both children together. At the end of the week, each family pays the amount they owe based on Ken’s spreadsheet.

In the Portland mom’s nanny share, the nanny tracks her own hours on the Google spreadsheet that she sets up for her. It’s always important to keep everyone updated. Virginia says her nanny share contract specifies that the share members meet with the nanny regularly to discuss payroll, logistics, administration, and naturally, how the kids are doing. More than anything, remember to keep the lines of communication open and all shared finances transparent.

Think a nanny share is right for you? Nanny Share makes it easy to start connecting with local families.