MONEY TALKS: How to empower your nanny financially

Monday September 30 2019


Nanny Viv has been working for my family since January 2016. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By Daily Nation

I’ve mentioned my Nanny Viv frequently in my stories here. Well, in case you don’t recall, here’s a formal introduction: Nanny Viv, please meet the readers of my Money Talks personal finance column. We’ve been together about a year now. We’ve built an intimate community around managing our money and sharing our financial pickles. We like each other. A lot.

Everyone, meet Nanny Viv. My ‘domestic manager’ and nanny to our daughter, Muna.

(This is point you guys shake hands with her and she carries on her way).

Nanny Viv has been working for my family since January 2016. She joined our household when Muna was a year and two months old. She turns four in November, Inshallah.

The previous nanny left in the early weeks of that January. She left without warning or notice. She left with money she owed me. A lot of money, might I add, salary advances I’d extended for her to settle her kids’ school fees. She was a single mum of three kids, all in school.



And then one Sunday, after her weekend off, she texted and said, “Sasa Mama Muna. Naona sitaendelea na kazi...”

I’d made the naive mistake of imagining that she and I would be together forever. That she’d never leave me because she and I were such good pals. I mean, we were raising my daughter together!

I was slighted, to be honest. Taken aback. The audacity, goodness.

I’d later learn that she had been baited by some sleek dude and his empty colourful promises. Promises of putting the silvery moon in her hands and adjusting the stars so they can shine as bright as her eyes. Who can blame her though? Every woman has fallen victim to such idiocy.

I, like any other urban mum, have something of a life dependency on my Nanny Viv. She’s the glue that holds the sanity of my life together. The cog in the wheel of my household.

While I’m out here chasing money, she unburdens me of other equally important tasks. She does the washing and ironing of laundry, the cooking (God, the cooking. And she’s gifted at it! Her chapos are something else). She feeds and bathes Muna, keeps her company while GB and I are out here in the world painting our dreams and filing reports and beating deadlines.

If she ever knew that my life as an urban mum somewhat revolves her, she would demand that I pay her ten times what I do.

Truth is, we don’t pay our nannies enough. (But then again, who is ever paid enough by their bosses? We’re constantly asking for more and more money.)

With Nanny Viv, I figure that instead of increasing her salary year after year, I’d empower her financially, instead. Translate those annual increments to a long-term financial empowerment solution.

I have some suggestions on how you can empower your nanny, too.

These suggestions are greatly determined by the duration she has been in your household. They’re also determined by your gut instinct, something I can’t capture in words. Do you feel is deserving of your empowerment or not?


The best you can do here is save money for her.

Out of her monthly salary, put aside between a certain amount – sit down with her and agree how much she can spare from her salary, even if it’s Sh200. Send that money to your savings account or any other account where you save. Even your money market fund account will do.

Keep proper records of what is saved, and in which month.

Whenever she asks for a salary advance, withdraw from this kitty.

During December holidays, or whenever she is travelling home and she needs money to do shopping for household necessities, withdraw from this kitty.

If there is a family emergency in her shagz... you know the drill.

Regulate the savings, though, so that she doesn’t withdraw it all putting out small fires.

These savings are also collateral. Something of a tether. If she decides to leave without warning or notice, then tell her she forfeits all her money.


Save for her as explained above. Now that you trust her more, increase the savings. I suggest you set aside between Sh800 to sh1,500 every month, from her salary. You can even top it up from your own pocket.

Say, if you intend to save for her Sh2,000 a month, set aside Sh1,000 from her salary and Sh1,000 from your pocket. Send this to your personal savings account, and be aware that it is her money, not yours.  

At this point of your relationship, ensure you are paying for her NSSF of Sh500 monthly. Ensure that her kids are included in the cover and that she has selected the hospitals where she can get treatment under the cover.

Encourage her to sign up for an insurance policy – either retirement policy for herself or an education policy for each of her kids. She pays to it what she can spare from her salary. Alternatively, you can settle it in full for her or meet her halfway.

Also encourage her to save with a legitimate Sacco. That way she can access credit at lower rates and enjoy annual dividends. Remember the golden rule with savings – it’s never about how much, but how consistent you are. Tell her this.

I would suggest you buy your her books to read but you know what they say about taking a cow to the river, don’t you?


She’s technically a family member now.

If she has helped raise the kids and they’re all in school now, then she has a lot of free time on her hands during the day. And besides, after working with you for three years plus, she knows how to do things in the house efficiently and as you like them done.

Do all of the above, plus more. Consider taking her to school to master a technical skill she can later employ for extra money. Nanny Viv has joined a hairdressing and beauty college. (It was all her idea. I admired her proactivity to shop around for an affordable college. She’s also learned to balance school hours and household working hours).

She can also learn how to weave by hand rugs of all kinds. Or she can learn to make peanut butter, shea butter products, beauty soaps and commercial detergent. She can also learn driving, basic accounting.... it’s an infinite list of ideas.

Alternatively, you can start a business with her and employ her as its supervisor.

Or, if she already has a natural proclivity for a skill, you can get her attachment. Say, if she’s a great cook, you can link her up with a catering company where she can be a casual during the week, when the kids are away in school.


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