Uncertainty Abounds for Nannies Due to COVID-19

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Jennifer Kuhn of The Kuhniverse explains that getting a paycheck during the era of COVID-19 is not a guarantee for any of us, and this is also true for nannies and childcare workers.

Now more than ever, with so much financial uncertainty looming ahead and no agreed end date in sight for the novel coronavirus that is ravaging the globe, we must take control of our finances to stand a fighting chance of keeping our heads above water.

See Jennifer Kuhn discuss this article by clicking here.

Nannies tend to have an appreciation for irregularities in paychecks. Many of you reading this are paid under the table. Others may be worried about having to file for unemployment for the first time. Still others may still be gainfully employed but wondering what to do if a significant other on whose income you depend loses a job.

For many nannies, the sometimes lower wages of the profession mean that budgeting is a way of life. For others, budgeting is a much detested four-letter word. But for most, if not all of us, having a solid money plan in place has become a higher priority because of COVID-19.

This article will outline steps you should take to immediately position yourself to be able to weather the storm against a potential hit to your income should your nannying position or another necessary income stream become affected by COVID-19.

If you do not have a budget and a careful spending plan for your income, as well as a solid, airtight emergency fund in place, it will be important for you to make some significant changes starting today.

Be More Mindful of Your Budget

This is the time I need to make something clear. First, your budget is not to limit you or restrain you from living your best nanny life. On the contrary, your budget is all about prioritizing what’s important to you in your own life and using your funds to back that up. During the pandemic, our priorities may shift for many of us. Whereas before the pandemic came along many of us were focusing on savings goals for things like vacations, home down payments, etc., we now begin to prioritize self-preservation and basic necessities of daily living. If you were struggling with overspending before the pandemic hit, the time is now to reign it in.

We can all stand to benefit from having a written budget and a plan for our money. The Kuhniverse has a simple to use and freely available budget template along with tutorials on how to use this budget template, which is extremely useful for nannies as well as any other type of position that has variable or unpredictable income.

What Your Emergency Fund Is

Most financial experts recommend a bare minimum of 3 months’ worth of living expenses in your emergency fund to cover you in the event of a job loss or a significant hit to your income. There’s no time like COVID-19 time to be sure you have an emergency fund, especially when you work as a nanny and have no idea what your job situation may look like in the coming weeks or months. Plan for the worst but hope for the best. This idiom should stick with you and ring true and loudly.

Even those of you working for doctors, nurses, and workers on the front lines in caring for COVID-19 patients should not feel safe from potential future job loss due to COVID-19. The unfortunate reality is that COVID-19 is ravaging not just patients, but healthcare systems as well. It is anticipated that many frontline workers who have put life and limb on the line to care for people during the greatest worldwide challenge of our lifetimes may be rewarded for their hard work by being laid off in the near future due to the huge financial strain COVID-19 has placed on hospitals and healthcare facilities. In some cases, even if you have a nanny contract with your family you may still be out of luck.

For many of you reading this, achieving a buffer of at least 3 months’ worth of living expenses may seem an insurmountable task. Start small. Start with $500, then work to $1000. Build on it from there. Once again, plan for the worst and hope for the best. If you are lucky enough to not need to tap into your emergency fund, you will still have the cash on hand for when the pandemic comes to an end.

Your emergency fund should be:

    • In liquid funds, available to you as cash. I recommend keeping your emergency fund separate from your regular bills money, and if you can, keep it in a high-yield savings account such as at Ally Bank, where you can still earn interest on the money in your account. Interest accruals aren’t what they once were, even just a few short weeks ago, and there is no guarantee that rates won’t continue to fall as COVID-19 continues on. Do not keep your emergency fund in non-liquid state.
    • At least $1000, minimum. Again, work your way up to this amount as quickly as you can for the moment until you reach your ultimate goal of at least 3 months’ worth of living expenses (to cover all expenses, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, transportation, etc.).
    • Reserved for a true emergency. An iPhone upgrade is not a true emergency. Neither is a vacation. Even if you are in debt repayment mode, most expert advice during the pandemic is to pause your debt repayment until things stabilize and focus instead on your emergency fund savings. This is survival mode right now for many of us. Having a paid down student loan, for instance, won’t put groceries in your refrigerator if you end up laid off from your job and unable to collect unemployment insurance for weeks.

What Your Emergency Fund Is Not

Your emergency fund is not a rainy day fund. It is not used for funding large purchases or treating yourself or YOLOing. Keep this money out of sight, out of mind, until you actually need to use it for a true emergency. Pretend the money isn’t even there.

Increasing Your Income

If you have lost your job and income due to COVID-19 and are struggling to make ends meet, or even if you were struggling to bring your finances under control but have been lucky enough to keep your job, many of us still find ourselves with a negative gap between what we earn and what we spend. If this is your situation, you need to find a way to increase your earnings. A few thoughts on how you can do that specific to the nanny industry, if you are comfortable and healthy enough to consider:

    • Ask your NannyFamily if you can take on extra hours cleaning and sanitizing
    • Try your hand at digital babysitting while parents are stuck working from home and need to be on conference calls
    • Take on weekend babysitting jobs

If you are able to earn additional income over and beyond your normal income, sock all that cash away. Do not be tempted to spend it frivolously right now as the money you’re spending on takeout lunches now could be the money you may depend on next month for groceries. Normally I’m all about the FOMO/YOLO mentality but these are not normal times.

Some other industries and employers, like grocery stores, are hiring and can barely keep pace with the demand. If you find yourself in a desperate situation, but are healthy and able, you may consider picking up a position in one of these types of businesses. Many of these are also offering hazard pay during the pandemic.

Decrease Your Spending

This probably goes without saying, but unless you have a solid emergency fund in place and are fairly certain you’d be able to get by just fine in the event of a loss of income, most nannies will want to focus their attention on decreasing their expenses during the pandemic.

Cash hoarding is totally appropriate at the moment. After all, you have to look out for Numero Uno. Track all your expenses, every last one, including $1 vending machine purchases, in your budget so you don’t forget you spent that money. Take a long hard look at what’s in your budget that looks a little high, and find a way to decrease that expense category.

I’m not even going to bother telling you to cut out Netflix. Honestly, so many of us are home right now and the opportunity to escape with a binge-worthy TV series is completely necessary.

But here are a few ideas for expenses you can cut:

    • As much as you want to support the local economy, reduce the amount of dining out you are doing. It is not your personal responsibility to save every restaurant in town from going under. The sad reality is a lot of establishments are going away and won’t come back because of COVID-19. That doesn’t mean you should go under with them.
    • Student loans, especially federally backed student loans. Run a Google search on how your repayment may be affected. If absolutely necessary, hang onto the cash you’d be paying on your loan so that you can use these dollars to pay for life-sustaining things like medicine and food. Many programs are being flexible in an unprecedented way and you should feel no guilt in taking advantage of that, even if you still technically can afford your repayment.
    • Utilities: now is the time to shop around to look for a better internet service provider. Chances are you may be paying too much money for your current setup. Cell phones too. Mint has pretty good rates, but check to make sure you’re covered before making the leap. Xfinity Mobile’s rates are good too as long as you’re a Comcast customer. Do some comparison shopping to get the bet deals. Your future self will thank you in case you get laid off and can’t collect unemployment.

For nannies who are either working through COVID-19 or unemployed thanks to the disease, there are so many obstacles. You miss your littles or are finding that not having a normal routine is stressful both on yourself and the children. You may suddenly find yourself working from home with your bosses and giving up some of the freedom, which is one of the things you love about nannying. There are already so many stressors at play in this “new normal.”

Don’t let your personal finances be one more thing to worry about. Work to get your financial life on track now, such as by using my free budget tracker template. It’s easy to use and can help you achieve your financial goals, both during and after the pandemic.

Stay safe out there, nannies.

This post is copublished on both Be the Best Nanny and The Kuhniverse. Both posts are essentially the same.

To enter the contest to possibly win one of four $50 grocery gift cards sponsored by The Kuhniverse, please visit to see the official rules.

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