Nanny Calculators: The Nanny Whisperer Talks Nanny Salaries

Once you've identified what kind of nanny you need, it's time to think about money and salary. For many of my clients, figuring out compensation is one of the hardest parts of the nanny search process, because taking a hard look at your budget almost always causes a certain amount of anxiety. But figuring out what you can pay early on is crucial, because it's a make-or-break factor in determining which candidates should move forward in the process. A lot of parents will meet a nanny, fall in love with her during the interview, and spend a lot of time doing reference checks and trials, only to discover when they make an offer that they can't come to terms on pay, or that the nanny needs to be paid "off the books," which is not something they're prepared to do. You can do all the legwork and find a fabulous nanny who meets every single one of your "Musts" and "Pluses," but if, at the end of the day, you can't afford to hire her, all that effort will have been for nothing. So now is when you want to take the time to figure out: What am I going to pay, and how am I going to pay it?

One of the biggest misperceptions among parents is that you can't have a great nanny unless you pay top dollar. So I want to state this loud and clear: Nothing could be further from the truth! There are many wonderful nannies who earn perfectly average salaries, and many mediocre and even terrible nannies in high-paying, Park Avenue jobs. So never assume that a higher price tag means better quality, or that you need to cut corners or accept lesser care because that's all you can afford. If you follow my Gold Standard process, you will be able to find an incredible nanny within your ideal salary range--someone who is worth her weight in gold, but still comes at a reasonable price.

That said, this is not the time to be cheap. I've worked with parents who don't think twice about spending $1,000 on a handbag, but are determined to negotiate a bottom-dollar, bargain-basement deal when it comes to childcare. I myself am a very thrifty person, and I always shop around for the lowest price on almost everything. But your nanny is not the place to scrimp! It's okay to look for a "deal" when you're buying a car or booking an airline ticket--but not when you're hiring someone to love and nurture your child. If you offer a salary that is below the average market rate and yet you live in a huge home in the fanciest part of town, it's easy for candidates to spot the discrepancy and good nannies will take their business elsewhere. I always tell my clients that if your nanny is underpaid, she's going to be distracted and resentful--and that's not what you want when someone is watching your child. The bottom line is that you need to be aware of the typical rates for your area, and then look closely at your budget and the parameters of your job to figure out a fair and reasonable salary.