Money for 'Incidentals"

The homeowners have left me $150 cash for ‘incidentals’ for a four week house sit. By incidentals do they mean toilet paper, paper towels, dish or laundry soap etc.? I am inclined not to use the money unless I have an emergency, but wondered what other house sitters have done.

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The only cash we have ever been left is for something related to the pets. We had one sit where the dogs ate raw food, so we had to buy fresh using cash left by the HO. On our last sit, the HO left us cash for fresh berries, cheese and yogurt which they added to the dog’s kibble.

We would not typically use cash left for, as you say, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc. We would replace out of our own pocket anything we depleted.

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I had one sit where they left me cash that was specifically so I would treat myself out for a couple meals, which was very kind. I’ve had other sits where they leave cash for incidentals and I would never use that on myself. That would only be if something odd popped up with the pet. So I would not use it for consumables I’m using like TP, laundry soap, etc. Those are my costs.

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Yes, I understand - I plan on replacing the paper products out of my own pocket.

That makes sense- thank you!

Hi. This is an instance where I would have clarified what they meant by that. My general rule is that I would not accept money, so that’s why I’d want an understanding, before they left. For example, if you used it for paper products and they meant only something unanticipated, then they may not be happy. It’s similar to the idea of a homeowner saying use/eat anything you like - they may not truly mean that, but not realize either, if they’re not experienced with having sitters. Misunderstanding of seemingly small things can cause issues that could easily have be avoided.

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Good question. We’ve often been left an emergency fund and particularly on longer sits. This has always been described as money to be used in case not enough food, fresh pet food (one dog was fed minced beef and veggies), cat litter, pool chemicals, etc., have been left. It’s sometimes difficult to assess for a specific period of time away, especially if first time using sitters. At our last sit we were given 40 euros for such eventualities, and did need to restock the cat food for them.

Whenever any money is used we always leave receipts to show what’s been purchased and at what cost. One time we were left an envelope with £50 on a no handover sit that just had our names on… we left it intact and the owner rebuked us for not taking it (in a nice way) - she’d left it to “help with the fuel costs taking dogs for walks” - so now we always double check. On an in-person handover it’s usually explained.

In full agreement with everyone that says “incidentals” or “emergency funds” are for the pets and home, not for supplies we would ordinarily provide for ourselves.

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We travelled to Australia for a 5 week dog sit and were left AUS $1000. This was for emergencies, house repairs etc. We spent $8 on a replacement battery for the garage remote control.
We were pleased that they trusted us with that amount of cash

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Incidentals is such a vague word that we would only be inclined to use it for any pet related expenditure.
We have been left ‘emergency’ cash a few times that we thankfully have not yet had to use Once a home host kindly left us a £20 Waitrose gift card with a little note telling us to ‘buy some wine’ - which was quite a treat as we are normally two bottles for a fiver from ALDI kinda guys :rofl:

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I’ve been left emergency money on a number of sits and used it only twice - once for the snake catcher to come and remove a snake (we had discussed this possibility), and on my last sit, to buy pool chemicals after the stormy weather then heat and humidity caused havoc with the pool water(again, in consultation with the owner). I’ve also had an owner leave their credit card (!) and I had to use it for a vet visit!

@temba A kind and trusting gesture on the part of the credit card owner, but I would have declined that offer. If there was any fraudulent use of the card - then or at any future time - you (and the homeowner) would put yourselves in an awkward situation. Sadly, we have to think of these scenarios.

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If an owner has not set up a vet account, I ask them to put their credit card info on a piece of paper and place it in a sealed envelope on which they have written their name, to be opened only if needed for vet payment. (If credit card info is not needed, the signature shows that the information is still in the original envelope.) I recently did a “reverse sit” because I was unavailable to go to the HO’s house and hosted their pets in my home. I forgot to return the envelope with their credit card info, so I videotaped myself putting the sealed envelope through the shredder.

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Good idea where credit cards are common but no vet I know of accepts them in Germany. Here you either get the invoice per email or you pay directly with bank card or cash, depending on the vet’s practice.
With our “house vet” we have the agreement that any sitter of ours doesn’t have to pay right away. We will do it when we return. The clinic for emergency treatments has to be paid right away and my brother would take care of this.
However we leave some cash for taxi fees to get the pets to the vet in case the sitter doesn’t arrive by car.

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@Snowbird I so agree with you. However, this occurred when I was first starting out sitting and they were new HO so we didn’t have much experience, and we Aussies are a trusting lot. With many sits under my belt and much experience gained, I would never do that now.

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Can’t you ask them?

I was left money in case I wanted to take the Tibetan Terrier I was looking after to the groomer’s as he was difficult to comb so would get knots easily

So agree here that I wouldn’t leave a credit card, that could be asking for trouble. But it does leave one to think about what might happen in an emergency…I am normally near my phone but need to think this through a bit more!

Everything is so easy to buy or pay online nowadays that there has only been a couple of occasions I’ve been left money to but more food for the animals. Even the vet can be paid through an online account.
I don’t think it’s for you.

I would typically not use any money left and would rather pay my own way for items like toilet paper because if you stayed at home you would be paying for toilet paper anyway. If it was a big ticket item relating totally to the item, I would get a receipt and present it to the pet owner.

We always leave around £200 in cash for anything that the Sitter may deem as necessary while they are there. We are clear that this is for things like extra food/straw for the large animals in case there is an unexpected bad weather spell and they end up inside rather than outside grazing, or if they open a bag of animal feed and it is spoiled. Or for vehicle fuel and minor expenses if they end up having to run unexpected errands relating to the sit (minor home DIY emergency, vet trip). I guess we never really know what it could be used for until that incident occurs! We would never want our Sitter to be out of pocket for something that they would not normally have to pay for themselves.

We always let the vet know the Sitter’s name and that they have the authority to contact them re our animals, and our vet is fine with any expenses that happen while we are away to be paid by us afterwards. If there are any other home or animal related purchases we are happy for the Sitter to contact us and we order immediately via Amazon Prime (or similar) on our account.

So in conclusion, for me money left ‘for incidentals’ would be for anything the sitter would have to pay for that would not normally be part of their own everyday purchases. Of course, this is another area where the key is clear communication at all points by both parties, and if you are not sure, then ask!

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