How Much Do You Pay a Friend for Pet-Sitting and Other Household Favors When You’re Out of Town?

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You’re beyond excited to be going on vacation, but you need someone to handle at least one of your responsibilities at home while you’re away. Thankfully, a friend or family member has agreed to watch your pet, water your plants or take your garbage out.

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This person is doing you a huge favor, so a simple “thank you” will not suffice. Contrary to what many people believe, you need to pay them for their time.

“When asking [a] family member or friends to help you out with your dog when you’re gone, we recommend offering to pay 60% to 70% of what a similar professional service would charge,” said Robert Bradley, founder of Superb Dog, a dog informational site. “This is because these payments are usually cash, and there’s also the ‘favor’ aspect to be taken into consideration.”

As for exactly how much this equates to, he said this will depend on your location and any extra care your pets require.

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“For friends or family doing dog walking, $15 for a half-hour walk is fairly standard in large cities and $50-$70 for overnight stays with your pets are normal,” Bradley said. “If your pet has special needs like medications, multiple or complicated feedings, physical lifting, etc., you should pay more.”

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Since your pet is a living being, he emphasized the importance of making sure you can count on the person to feed, walk or medicate them.

“Try to imagine how your friend or family member would deal with a suddenly sick dog, for example, because that is always a possibility,” Bradley said. “So, if you doubt your nephew’s level of responsibility, find a professional service so you aren’t stressed out while away.”

When deciding how much you’ll pay the person, he said to include travel time — even if it’s just a few minutes — as this requires a commitment on their part.

“And no matter how nice your home is or how many cool amenities it has to offer, never think that they are a substitute for paying someone to provide services,” Bradley said. “A nice home theater may make the gig more desirable, but it won’t help pay your pet sitter’s bills.”

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Other favors — i.e., stopping by to water your plants twice a week or taking the garbage out on Tuesdays — require significantly less effort, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to pay the person for their time. You were concerned enough about the task to find someone to handle it in your absence, so it’s clearly important to you.

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule stating the exact amount you need to pay them, try to put yourself in their shoes. Consider all the factors surrounding the favor(s) — i.e., the time commitment and level of effort required — when deciding how much to give.

The person who agreed to help you did so out of kindness, so don’t take advantage of them. If they feel like you don’t appreciate their help, this could affect your relationship with them going forward, which is the last thing you want.

While you don’t need to pay a friend or family member as much as you would someone hired from the outside, offering fair compensation is the right thing to do. After all, showing mutual respect is a huge part of maintaining long-lasting relationships, so do your part to treat your loved ones well.

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About the Author

Jennifer Taylor is a West Coast-based freelance writer with more than a decade of experience writing about anything and everything. Since earning her MBA, personal finance has been her favorite topic, as she’s passionate about writing stories that educate, inform and empower. Specifically, she specializes in budgeting, debt repayment, savings and retirement.
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