Posted by: Hannah | 02/24/2016

money for nothin’ & chicks for free

I’ve spent the morning trying to convince two fellow dayhome operators that rate increases are a normal thing that happens.

One woman hasn’t increased her rates in four years. Another is a single mom with two kids of her own who is literally budgeting down to the penny just to give her family the basics. She is undercharging for her “wonderful” clients who “go out of their way to stay with me” but is convinced that a modest rate increase of $2 per day is going to send them all running to look for cheaper care.

It sucks. These women are literally using phrases like “I’m scared to lose them”, “my family would be in deep trouble if even one client goes”, “I don’t think it’s worth the risk”.

What it boils down to is that providing childcare has a cost. And these women are paying an unfair proportion of it out of their own pocket because they’re afraid to stop.

All businesses have expenses. Dayhomes need to pay for food, home and auto insurance, taxes, electricity, heat, toys, craft supplies, Kleenex, toilet paper, sunscreen… the list goes on. All of those things increase in cost every year. As dayhome providers, we know that your dollar isn’t going as far, either, but it just makes me sad to see these women causing themselves stress and upset to try and keep their clients from taking the hit.


Occasionally I provide editing services to clients overseas. It’s a long story but in essence, European Union technocrats spend a lot of their time preparing long policy papers; the papers have to be in English, but since the vast majority of these folks are ESL speakers, their written work is often stilted, with incorrect use of colloquialisms and archaic grammatical constructions.

It’s common practice to hire native English speakers to review and revise their work for correctness and readability.

I’m never going to pay my bills with it, but it’s a nice little hit of cash every so often, plus it keeps my brain sharper than endless readings of Clifford’s First School Day ever could.

Last November I took on a contract for a large consulting firm in Brussels. Could I review an 80+ page document? Could I turn it around in three calendar days? I said I could, gave them a price that they agreed to, and promptly lost an entire weekend going through a dense document with significant linguistic issues. I got the paper in ahead of the deadline and sent it along with an invoice. Thanks for doing this so quickly, said the client, but we’ll need to get acceptance from our client before we discuss payment.

A lot of back and forth later, it’s now been almost exactly three months since I gave them a paper that they admitted was exactly what they were looking, and I have yet to be paid.


I missed the whole tempest yesterday, but a young woman who works for Yelp and earns less than $20K per year wrote an open letter to her millionaire boss, explaining that asking employees to survive in the notoriously-overpriced San Francisco area on laughably-low wages is impossible. I happen to think she’s right. I worked for a massive telecomm in university, making minimum wage while paying for rent and student loans, and many a night I had salsa & crackers for supper because it was all I could afford.

People eviscerated this woman. The internet exploded with thinkpieces about “entitled millenials”. I’m sorry, since when did “earning a living wage” become synonymous with entitlement? Look, I’ve dealt with my share of folks in their early 20s who are, objectively, horribly selfish people with massive entitlement complexes. And their 30s. And their 40s. Whatever, some people are assholes. But this whole business all comes back to we as a society not valuing labour that doesn’t produce a thing. You build a table? People praise you and pay your price. You build a website? People think you did it for fun while sitting in your mom’s basement. You build a small human?

The general consensus seems to be you ought to be doing it for the love, not the money.

This seems less annoying and more prescient, suddenly.

show me the money



  1. It’s all rather infuriating, actually.

    I hope you get paid STAT.

    That is really gross.

    It still freaks me out that people are happy to pay more for their pets to be cared for than their children. Priorities? Do we have those at all anymore?

    Ugh. Can Surly Wednesday be a thing now?

  2. I agree–no one should have to pick up pennies or eat nothing but rice when they are WORKING FULL TIME. And these are jobs that do involve skills–except apparently our society doesn’t value taking care of children or solving customer’s issues as skills.

  3. You know how much I agree with all of this. In the case of that young woman, where she fell down was asking for money on the Internet, I think, but that doesn’t make her essay any less true or valid. I read another piece that focused on her asking for money instead of knocking on a Starbucks’ door and I agreed with that one, too. I mean, I’m not for all the bootstraps arguments about working your ass off for years before earning a living wage, but you do have to do something to help yourself, too, if you can.

  4. What people don’t seem to understand about “spoiled millennials” is that the days of the baby boomers are gone. They didn’t produce enough tax paying children to support their retirement lifestyle and now BLAME the younger generations for failing to support them and themselves. Drives me mad.

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