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. 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). 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?
— Perplexed in Suburbia
You have done a good job of managing your daughters’ training and baby-sitting business, and marketing their services to the neighborhood. 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.