Time for Some Payback

So this is my first job as a nanny, and I am wondering if this is normal. My "family" frequently asks me to purchase things like groceries, gas, movie tickets, etc. And most of the time they are good about giving me money for them in advance. However, sometimes they are not. And despite me bringing home receipts for them and telling them how much xxxx cost, I am usually met with "I'll get it to you later". Generally these things are forgotten about, or I will notice they've thrown away the receipts, but not reimbursed me. These are usually items under $20, which while not super expensive, have been adding up.

Would you expect your nanny to pay for some small expenses on her own? For example, movie theater parking, mailing packages (not just buying a stamp...), desktop keyboard (this one was like 30$!), and small groceries? I'm not a live in and I don't eat at the house, so I don't feel I should need to "chip in" for groceries or anything like that.

Would you feel annoyed if your nanny kept asking you for reimbursement for these small things? Some things I've asked to be reimbursed for 3+ times and it's just been ignored. I've been considering asking for a pre-paid credit card with like $100 on it for these situations where I am currently spending my own money. Would that be considered out of line? How do I even approach being reimbursed for things like the keyboard where they have already tossed the receipt out? Help! - Anonymous


♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...


You are most definitely not being unreasonable here. In fact, this family is taking full advantage of you are not only their nanny, but as a person as well! Shame on them.

I can't believe they say they will pay you later, then throw away the receipts for stuff and never pay you.

I would demand back payment for all the things purchased, if they do not reimburse you ASAP, I would be out the door in a heartbeat.

From now on, I would let them know that you do not carry cash on you and that if they need you to purchase something, you will either need the cash upfront or ask them to provide you with a pre-paid card,etc.

NanonymouslyYours said...

Not that what they are doing is right, but maybe they have a lot going on and need to be reminded. Talk to them about it now, I oftentimes front petty cash here and there but I always give them the receipt and expect reimbursement immediately. If they'll get it later, I constantly remind them until it's covered. Do not let this pass by because it will continue if you do not say something.
Suggesting a prepaid card is a great idea and alternative.
Just ask to speak to them and say:

I don't mind picking things up for you but I need to be reimbursed immediately. These things are starting to add up and I am wondering how you would feel about a preloaded card for my use when I need to pick things up for you? We won't have to worry about reimbursements anymore.

You should never have to pay for any of the things you mentioned.

EastBayNanny said...

I can relate to some extent, as I posted a few weeks back about one of my families forgetting to pay me more than once... In my case the situation has been the result of a very busy set of working parents and crazy kid schedules. Some (many?) families are incredibly busy with work and activities.

That said, I agree with the above poster that simply stating that you are uncomfortable with using your own funds in case of any "future" misunderstanding.

I have been suggesting a prepaid visa to my family since I started four months ago, but instead we use a cash system (money on fridge) which they replenish (often with my nudging) weekly. I should say I do a significant amount of food shopping for them as well. I put all receipts in the same envelope that they money is kept an they make sense of it as they wish. So fare there have been no concerns or misunderstandings, but my preference would be to simply use a visa and return an itemized receipt that they could match against their purchases.

I trust these folks, but would be wary in general of a cash system long-term with less than professional bosses. People can get weird and without a record of how hundreds of dollars each week are spent, there could be potential misunderstanding at the best and straight up sabotage at the worst... I'm sure there are stories here...

So I would:
* STOP purchasing. Period.
* Ask for a meeting.
*Present them with an itemized list of things you have not yet been reimbursed for, along with a simple signed letter of request for reimbursement.
*Be polite, assume there is a misunderstanding, and stay positive with the intent to move forward in a way that you can be comfortable.
* If in ANY way (watch carefully)they become defensive, take this as your cue to leave this job ASAP.

Hope that helps a little bit!
Good luck!

MissMannah said...

EastBay gave excellent advice. You need to stop paying for anything out of pocket. It actually isn't even the nanny's job to run errands like that, unless it is specified in your contract.

RBTC said...

Op - you are being very wise to question this. I once let a client run up a debt with me of $300 - it took a long time to get it back

it feels very horrible to have to stand up for yourself when you are dependent on them for a living but you are strong enough - take the above advice

also - document EVERYTHING in writing

MissWi said...

If this was say a desk job and you employer did the same thing you would find it wrong without question right?
Being a nanny is still a are an employee!
Yesterday I had to drive the kids 10 miles out of my way and DB met us can sure as hell bet they were charged for 20 miles (to the place and back to their house which is where I would normally depart to go home) of gas.
I used to be like you OP but then I started realizing being a nanny is still a normal may be different but its still a job and being treated fairly is a priority just like any other job.
You have to be your own HR department.
Be upfront with them...if they fire you or say anything that suggests you are wrong, report them

Get a prepaid card said...

Yes get a prepaid card or credit card- that's what I have. And if they won't just tell them you can't afford to foot the bill until they pay you anymore because your financial situation does not permit it. Also take pics alternatively of the receipts and every week put it on a spreadsheet to remind them to pay you. Any every unpaid week print it out again. Heck no. Don't even put yourself in a prepaid position!

Ridiculous said...

Oh hell no. I agree with PPs. Stop buying things for them unless you're being paid with upfront. I would be very clear with MB: "I know you guys have been very busy but it's been a while since you paid me back for X,Y,Z resulting in a total of $$$. Perhaps I could be given a prepaid visa card for any expenses from now on, Etc." If she disagrees and continues asking you to get things just tell her that you only carry your drivers license and have left your cash/debit/credit cards at home.

Make copies of your receipts since she has been conveniently throwing them out.

workingmom said...

Definitely make copies of your receipts, or ask for a second copy at the time of purchase!! Most places will have no problem providing you with that second copy when you tell them you have to expense the purchase.

Then present an itemized "bill" at paycheck time, showing (but not GIVING!) MB & DB your copies/proof!

DenverNanny said...

Ugh. I've been in your shoes. It's so frustrating! You've gotten some great info from other posters I just wanted to share what I did.

Once receipts started disappearing for me I started snapping pictures with my phone before handing them over. Then after waiting a week I'd mention it. By two weeks I would say something again and wait until I was handed a check. I refused to leave one day until she found her checkbook. It was the same "I'll get it to you later I don't know where my checkbook is." I replied with "oh, I'll wait, I don't have anywhere to be and I need the money so I can make sure all my bills are paid for."

It took some time but finally they just gave me a credit card.

GOod luck!

Village said...

YOU ARE AN IDIOT! Now I will profusely apologize to the OP.


Nannette said...

I always have a kitty and leave receipts this way no one is taken advantage of

ericsmom said...

what the heck is a kitty??

NannyBlue said...

Just tell them to add it to your check next time they write it. Make sure to get $$ in advance from here on out.
Getting a credit card is reasonable, I have had one for my last couple nanny gigs, including my current one. What a lifesaver it is when I can use it even to buy a $2 lemonade for my kids, etc!

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

OP, next time you are asked to9 make a purchase, simply say, "Sure, I'll need money to cover that though - I haven't got cash or credit cards available today!"

Chances are your employers will be surprised by your refusal to bankroll them, and when they ask what the issue is, you can then explain, "I've had some problems getting reimbursed, so from now on I'll only be making purchases if you give me the funds ahead of time. We can handle that in several different ways."

They can:

Keep petty cash available, and you can take what you need and return the change with the receipts. They then can do whatever bookkeeping they choose to do, and replenish the cash as needed. No cash, no buying!

Add you to one of their credit cards, with a card in your name and a specific limit. Again, receipts would be left in a specific place for them to inventory.

Create a bank account for you to use and provide you with a debit card. Receipts handled as above.

Purchase visa gift cards for you to use. Reciepts handled as above.

no moniker #3 said...

Re-posted for Anonymous...
learn to say NO!

you're being taken advantage of.

tell them how you feel & good luck!

nycmom said...

I would never "expect" my nanny to pay for anything in advance. I try to always leave ample ($100-200) in petty cash available. However, there have been times we have run out and she has not told me (which is actually part of her Work Agreement to let me know when cash is running low since she uses it daily and I don't). In those cases, the moment she has told me she paid out of pocket, I immediately reimburse her. She often will say "it can wait," but I insist on paying immediately.

Sometimes, for large purchases, my nanny actually requests to use her credit card to get the points and I reimburse her in cash.

Regardless, not getting reimbursed immediately is unacceptable.

Lyn said...

I have yet to read the other comments yet but I HAVE to say: A prepaid credit card has saved my butt many a time! I am insistent on having one supplied for me for work use with $100 on it. I have a special section of the Nanny Log I put together where I tape in all of the receipts and reflect those to the cards new balance. And once a card hits around $30 I ask that it be refilled and do not use it again until it has been.

I am always surprised that these are not more common requirements for Nannies. They are really not a hassle to get from parents, you then don't have to ask for reimbursement, and virtually everywhere accepts plastic.

Lyn said...

Oh! And absolutely have a meeting and let them know what you need reimbursement for. Then just stop, entirely, buying things for them until you have a card.
With parents who are forgetful of what was spent (like I suspect these parents are) I wouldn't be trustful of a cash kitty (Ericsmom: A kitty is another term for spare cash. Maybe it's regional, I heard it growing up too).

Bethany said...


You are not in the wrong for thinking you should not have to chip in. You should not have to chip in. Parents pay for their kids and household expenses and outings.

Don't let them make you think or try to guilt you into thinking otherwise.

PPS have given great advice on how to handle the situation.

Never ceases to amaze me how some people have nor problem taking advantage of others.

I wish you luck and hope everything works out for you.

Manhattan Nanny said...

Receipts for reimbursement? NO! Inform your MB that the Bank of Nanny is closed! Do not continue to pay for anything with your own money. You need a credit card for groceries and larger purchases, and petty cash for small everyday items for the children.
These people are taking advantage of you. They do not intend to reimburse you for the receipts they threw out. You are going to have to chalk that up to experience, but going forward you must not "loan" them any more money. Stand your ground.

SunnyNanny said...

I agree with the PPs. Do not purchase anything else for them without money up front.
The family I work for now uses the debit card for this, rather than a pre-paid card because they are very busy and "refilling" an empty card can sometimes be a hassle. I have a debit card for a checking account used only by me so MB can quickly match up reciepts to bank statements if/when she needs. I use the card for everything from outings with the kids to groceries and last minute "can you pick x up for me while you are out today?". I love that its a debit card, because occasionally I take the kids places we can only use cash. The ATM reciept and change goes in with all the other reciepts.
I would ask to sit down with your bosses and just explain to them that while you are happy to help them out by picking things up, you can no longer foot the bill. Suggest a couple alternatives (petty cash, prepaid card, debit card, etc) and see how it goes. If they are not willing to acommodate any of these requests, NO MORE PURCHASES. PERIOD.

Melanie Raye Castor said...

wow, they are totally taking advantage of you. That is completely unfair. I wouldn't buy them another thing until they pay you every last cent they owe you.

nannyinmanhattan said...

They're supposed to leave you a stipend credit card or a petty cash float of some sort that they reimburse weekly. Continue to remind them of what they owe because owing a nanny is NOT OK by any means in my book and when they ask you to pick up anything in the future tell them you can't because you're running low on cash or something...and ask for the money in advance (in a nice way of course)
Good luck!

Ohio Nanny said...

I haven't read through the comments, so may be redundant in my response.

You absolutely should be re-imbursed, and it's not unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination to expect it.

The next time you are asked to purchase something, you should say, "Sure! Just leave the money on the counter and I will be happy to run out and get it!"

Personally, I would state (as uncomfortable as it may be, but you must be proactive), "I am not comfortable picking up extras at my expense any longer. I did it before expecting to be re-imbursed for it. I haven't been getting that money back, and I don't have the funds to continue to buy things with my own money and not be re-imbursed."

Perhaps you can suggest that they set aside cash in an envelope at the beginning of the week for miscellaneous items needed during the week, or that they give you a credit card (prepaid, or whatever).

If they are reluctant, then you simply state when asked that you'd be happy to do it as soon as they give you the money for it.

I've always been lucky in this regard. My most recent employer gives me her credit card to get the stuff she needs. There have been rare occasion where it has been more convenient for ME to get the things while I am already out (on or off the clock) and I have always been re-imbursed upon presenting receipts. Without fail.

Hell, I have sometimes taken my charge out to lunch because *I* wanted to go to lunch, and was fine with paying $3/$4 or whatever for her lunch too without expectation, and I have always been re-imbursed for that as well when I have done that.

Jo said...

A prepaid Credit Card. When I worked as nanny for almost 4 years for the same family, they gave me a credit card, the problem with it was, that sometimes the credit card would not work and it was embarrassing to be told that CC did not go through. Many times I had to call them and tell them that they needed to pay off their credit. Even when they would give me the list for groceries, I asked them if they were sure the card had credit so I wouldn't be facing the embarrassing situation again.But it happened anyway... It required a lot of patience. Until I decided not to go to get groceries unless they would give me cash or prepaid credit card. I spoke to them and they agreed to give me cash. I used to scan all the receipts, for just in case, before giving to them.

Ex-nanny said...

Girlfriend, are you kidding? You are entitled to request the money upfront, and not purchase anything until you have it in hands. I cannot believe they make you pay for THEIR personal stuff on your dime. They are taking advantage of you. They don't intend to reimburse you. Run as far as you can!

Good luck!

LittleMiss said...

Very unprofessional. I would tell them that I cannot continue to spend my own money and not be reimbursed. Yes, I think asking for a prepaid credit card or petty cash is definitely reasonable. The family I work for provide a credit card for expenses.

Bear'sNanny said...

Ericsmom took the words right out of my mouth...Nannette, what the heck is a kitty?! Hahaha ohh, i laughed so hard!


I strongly suggest talking to the family about the money situation, whether it be petty cash left out, a debit card, cash system, credit card, whatever. You should not have to use your own money!!! Little things add up!! And, how is that keyboard benefitting you?! It's not.

One family I nannied added me onto their Amex card, which I was so thankful for cause a LARGE chunk of my job, I spent out during the day doing errands (all 3 kids in this day, I still don't get why a stay at home mom with all the kids in school & activities needed a full time live in nanny!)

And even if you were a live in, you shouldn't be required to "chip in" for groceries.