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Save Money On Baby Sitting and Save Your Marriage

By Erik Folgate

Many of us are cutting back on things that are not necessary to spend money on, and entertainment is one of life’s little luxuries that we tend to cut back on during tough economic times. However, there are a ton of date nights you can do with your spouse, and I will have a list of my ideas for tomorrow’s post. One reason many married couples with kids cut back on entertainment is because of the cost of babysitting. Young teenage girls aren’t cheap anymore. The days of paying them $5 an hour are gone. they want $8 to $10 an hour. If you’re gone for 4 hours, that’s a huge chunk of change to add on to your night out. Here’s a way to completely eliminate the cost of babysitting.

Create a Babysitting Co-Op Group

  1. Find a group of couples ranging from 5 to 15 couples that would be interested in joining the group.
  2. Hold an informational meeting explaining how the group will work and what information you need from each couple.
  3. Assign tasks to a stay-at-home mom or someone with a little extra time on their hands to keep records for each spouse. Information you want to gather are emergency contact numbers, names of child’s doctor, special instructions for the children, etc.
  4. Make a list of operating rules. Set a list of rules about how the babysitting will work so every member knows what to expect. For example, will you drop off your child or will the couple come to your house to babysit?
  5. Start a free blog at Blogger.com and give full access to each couple to post updates and information and requests for babysitting. This is a great thing to have, because it leaves a paper trail for babysitting requests and open dates for babysitting.

Why This Works

Everyone is pitching in to help each other out, and if you find couples with kids a similar age to yours, you won’t have to do much babysitting, because they’ll just play together most of the time. If you feel like your marriage has been a little off lately, it’s because you haven’t spent quality time with your spouse. Setting a date night once a month is essential to a healthy marriage. You must get out of the house and away from the kids sometimes. Your kids are not your world. Your priority is to be a good husband or wife first, and THEN a good mother or father. Many people flip-flop these priorities and marriages begin to fail.

By the way, this co-op group also works for pet sitting. We have a dog, and we always dread the money we need to spend boarding our dog when we go on vacation. So, give it a try. I think you’ll find that everyone benefits from a group like this.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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Comments

  • Kristy @ Master Your Card

    You forgot to mention a discussion of how to handle situations in which the children misbehave. Each parent has a different view on how children should be disciplined, so that’s a very important discussion to have. My sister recently let a woman babysit her kids and this woman had a nasty habit of smacking her own kids across the face. While my sister isn’t opposed to the occasional spanking on the bottom, she absolutely does not condone smacking across the face. Needless to say, she’s found a new babysitter.

    This is a great idea, and I certainly agree that married couples should try to find or start a co-op of some sort. Not only are the benefits to the marriage spot on, but you also have the added benefit of being a better parent. You have some alone time away from the kids, which allows you to relax and refocus. This can really help you when dealing with your children. I think trying for two to three nights a month would be even better than just one.

  • Elizabeth I

    This sounds like a good idea but I have never known of anyone who has done this. This is a lot of work, you have to generate time to watch other people’s children, and find time to go out.

    Thus, I am going to make the argument that paying a babysitter $12 (yes, $12…I have three small kids) an hour and going out to eat once or twice a month is one of the best financial decisions you can make.

    First, if you have found a babysitter for an evening, both you and your spouse will go out. If you were at home and decided to watch a movie, would you really talk and catch up? What if one of the kids started to cry, would you actually see the movie? Leaving the house guarantees you undivided attention to your spouse. It allows you to have conversations that are more difficult at home.

    Second, it give you an experience as a “couple” not as a family. Couples, individuals, and families need their own hobbies and interests. How many times do you hear divorcing couples say “we grew apart”? Maybe the better description would be “we didn’t grow at all”. Every relationship needs to be nourished.

    Third, going out to eat and hiring a babysitter is cheaper (and more fun) than marital counseling or getting a divorce.

    My husband made the suggestion that we go out to eat once a month beginning in January 2009. We did this for an entire year. Our marriage was enhanced. We were able to afford this by making it part of our budget. We cut down on other things. In the beginning I thought it was a bit extravagant but after seeing the way it enhanced our marriage. I think it was money well spent.

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