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Daycare is a crushing expense in a lot of cities, so it makes sense that babysitters are also expensive. But it’s still an eye opener to see how much people are paying to have someone in to watch their children for a day or evening.

Check out this thread on a website called Babycenter – people seem to be paying $10 to $15 per hour, depending on factors like the age of the sitter and the age of the kids. On the Payscale website, Canadian babysitters are averaging $10.31 per hour. I recall teens making $2 per hour to babysit when I was a teenager in the late 1970s. The Bank of Canada inflation calculator adjusts that to $8.18 in today’s world.

There’s more to the thriving market for babysitters than mere wages. A report out of New York talks about the perks parents are offering their sitters, including fancy meals and museum or theme park passes. Babysitters are also being generously tipped.

Better pay comes with higher expectations. Parents are looking for a babysitting certificate, which teens can earn after taking a course that focuses on things like handling emergencies, the behaviour of young children and first aid training.

Two money-saving milestones in parenting are when your kids no longer need daycare and when you can go out for the evening without having to pay a babysitter. Parents who think they’re going to enjoy having extra money after the babysitting and daycare years should check out a story that has been very popular story on our website. The headline: The snowballing debt disaster: Parents are sparing no expense on their kids.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

First-date deal breakers

Invest in an iron or spring for a dry cleaner. Wearing wrinkly clothes is a top turn-off.

Don’t pay your insurance bill monthly

A financial planner warns that people making monthly payments may be forking over an extra 7 to 9 per cent over people who pay annually.

The most and least nutritious meals for the dollar

Nutritious meals cost more, but there are still some good values in terms of balancing affordability and health. Kale salad, lettuce wraps and falafel score big. Continuing on the food theme, here’s a fun-to-read and informative Q&A on fad diets, healthy eating and more.

Retired, without children

A U.S. study found that about 22 per cent of people aged 65 and older are either childless or have children who are not in contact. Here’s how one woman in that position is building a support system to avoid a solitary life in her old age.

Today’s featured financial tool

If you’re planning a trip, check out Travel Hacking for Canadians for ideas on how to maximize credit card travel reward points and other tips for saving money.

Ask Rob

The question: “What is the capital-gains exemption about? Can I invest in the stock market and keep the proceeds without paying taxes on them? What about income gained in my TFSA that I acquire trading stocks – is that taxable as capital gains?

The answer: Capital gains are the profit realized when you sell an asset for more than you paid. In non-registered accounts, you pay tax on 50 per cent of the amount of your capital gain. So if you buy a stock for $10 and sell it for $20, you pay tax on $5 in gains, or 50 per cent of the total gain of $10. Any type of investment gain realized in a tax-free savings account – interest, dividends or capital gains – is tax free. That’s why TFSAs are so great – zero tax worries on your gains. Here’s the Canada Revenue Agency’s official word on how to calculate a capital gain.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

What I’ve been writing about

- This insurance can save home owners from budget-busting expenses

- Two ways variable-rate mortgages are the better deal right now

- Why the all-banks stock portfolio isn’t for you (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Carrick and money coverage

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