Valerie, A Nanny, On Money

In the coming months, we'll be talking to lots of different people about how money works in their lives.

Below is our conversation with Valerie, a nanny in New York City. We spoke to her on a recent weekday afternoon in Central Park. She was watching two small children.

This is the second installment in this project. The first installment, published this morning, was a conversation with with Arianna Huffington.

Do you worry about money?

Of course. I worry about not having enough to pay my bills. I leave back the rent — leave it aside to pay the credit cards, the things you would get late-payment fees on.

I give the rent a little rest, then I pay off everything else.

So you're behind on your rent?

I'm $6,000 behind on the rent because for 10 months I was not working. It’s my daughter’s uncle I’m renting from. My rent is $950. It’s two bedrooms.

I'm a single mother with three kids. The kids are grown, but job-wise, it's hard. They live with me. My daughter is 17. She’s going to graduate next year. I have a 30-year-old son. He’s sick. The other one will turn 28 in November.

So the two boys are in one bedroom and me and my daughter are in one.

Besides the back rent, do you have other debts?

I have credit-card bills. In total it’s around $10,000. I have Sears, I have Target, Citi, Chase. Oh, and Macy’s. So I have five of them.

You end up in debt sometimes because there wasn’t a job that pays a little more. Some babysitters get a job paying like 800, 900 [a week]. I’m never lucky to get a job like that.

Can I ask how much you make each week?

I don’t want to say.

Do you have any money saved?

We have something we call sou-sou. Jamaican people call it partner.

Is that like an investment club, where a group of people saves money together?

That's right. There are 10 people, and it's $100 a week. So every week, somebody’s going to get $1,000. By the end of 10 weeks, everybody gets $1,000.

I got the hand about two months ago. I took that for house my back in Trinidad.

You didn't mention a house back in Trinidad!

Now it came up [laughter]. The house back in Trinidad, that’s for when here is tired of me, or here gets me frustrated, or I cannot get no job at all.

I have a house back home that I don’t have to pay rent for. It’s a big concrete house, all fenced around. It has my little fruit trees. It has a porch outside.  You see the the dog and the cow eating grass. Somebody passing bareback with a bucket going to the standpipe for some water.

Do you have a mortgage on that house?

It's not like that.

When you have a house here in New York, it’s never yours. You're always paying the mortgage. Our house there, that's our house. You pay water and land tax. That's it.

I'm building cupboards right now. When I got sou-sou, I paid for part of the cupboards.

Note: This is a condensed version of the full interview



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