When and how the nanny spends her employer’s money can quickly become a trouble spot in the nanny/family relationship. This is one of those areas where, unless the nanny is wildly irresponsible or the family is unrealistically frugal, there isn’t a definite right or wrong way to do things. It’s a judgment call and the best nanny can get it wrong.
It’s essential that the employer or the nanny takes the lead and discusses appropriate spending before the nanny accesses the household account. This is a very personal issue and every family has their own version of “reasonable spending”. For some families, spending an extra $15 or $20 for cut fruit is a smart, time saving move. For other families it’s a complete waste of money. The nanny doesn’t know which camp her employer falls into unless the family clearly lets her know what they’re comfortable with.
Here are a few suggestions for successfully navigating this issue.
Don’t make assumptions. Just because a family spends $250 on dinner out with the kids doesn’t mean they think their nanny should do the same when she works late. On the other hand, just because you wouldn’t spend $50 on a t-shirt doesn’t mean they won’t. In the beginning, just ask. You’ll quickly get to know their spending preferences.
Don’t imply the family is cheap if they don’t spend money on things you deem important. Yes, those wonderful learning games at Lakeshore would be a great help in teaching Johnny about sorting. But if your employers think he doesn’t really need them, they have the right to make that decision.
Don’t feel greedy if you insist on spending money on things you deem necessary. It’s your employer’s money but it’s your workspace and you have an obligation to make sure it’s safe. So if you care for a soon to be crawling infant and the kitchen isn’t baby proofed, a baby proofing kit or company is a necessity. If you provide transportation and your charge has outgrown her car seat, a new booster seat is a necessity. Ask for what you need. It’s part of being a professional.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing their money is yours. It’s very easy when you work for an affluent family to get used to their lifestyle. And let’s be honest, it’s one of the many bonuses of being a nanny. Just remember, it’s not your lifestyle. You’re simply a visitor who gets to enjoy many of the perks. Don’t become one of those nannies who’s insulted when she’s booked in coach on her solo flight home or given cab fare rather than the use of a car service after a late night. Be happy the basics are covered and enjoy all the extras you do get.