Snowed In…and Succumbing to Lifestyle Inflation

 

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Snowed In and Giving Into Lifestyle InflationToday, I am snowed in from work. Up to ten inches of snow are supposed to fall in my area throughout the day.  The accumulated snow is very beautiful but also very dangerous.  I appreciate the fact that I don’t have to drive to work in such harsh conditions, but it is slightly stressful knowing that everything continues to pile up in my absence.  Still,  I am determined to enjoy my day nonetheless.

Unfortunately, our cars are probably getting snowed in as I type these words.  It will soon be necessary to begin the mind numbing task of shoveling off our driveway, walkways, and front porch.  I cringe at the thought of my husband or I in the cold, instead of spending the day warm and cozy indoors.  Usually, we would suck it up and get our butts outside.  We weren’t ones to spend money willy nilly, and certainly not on easy labor type work.  But, something has come over me recently.  I am seriously starting to consider something that would have been unthinkable even a year ago.  I am wondering whether I should pay someone else to do all of the backbreaking work for me.

 

Rationalizing a Bit of Lifestyle Inflation

Shoveling for hours on end never sounds like a fun idea as it is.  But, would it really be worth it to pay someone else to plow off our driveway and clean off our sidewalks?  Shouldn’t we be doing this ourselves since we are clearly able?  My personal philosophy used to be one that dictated only paying others for work that we absolutely cannot do ourselves.  Still, something is holding me back from putting on my snow gear and heading outside into the freezing cold – even though I am snowed in from work.

First of all, my back problems make it so that I probably shouldn’t be shoveling outside anyway.  My husband is in great shape, but do I really want him spending a day off slaving away in the cold?  It would probably take several hours to finish the same job that a truck with a plow could do in five minutes.  Isn’t his time worth more than whatever it costs to have someone else do the work?

On this day, we quickly agreed that it is indeed worth the $20 to pay someone else…and my husband is thoroughly pleased with this decision.  Since we are snowed in, we decided that it is much better for us  financially, emotionally, and physically to spend the day writing and working on our side gigs.  It seems that we have reached a breaking point.  In some instances, it appears that our time is beginning to be more valuable to us than our money.

 

“Snowed In” with Housework

We think being frugal is awesome, yet other unfrugal ideas have been batted around our home recently.  As our children grow up and require more of our time, we are constantly falling behind on housework.  We generally find the time to keep up on laundry and dishes but often struggle to find the hours needed for deep cleaning.  We’ve begun feeling ”snowed in” by all the dusting, mopping, and cleaning required to keep this place looking good.

Whenever we end up with a week day off of work, we almost always take the kids to daycare and do incredibly boring activities like mopping floors and dusting baseboards.  Yawn.  I wish that I didn’t have to spend valuable time off slaving away at housework, but until recently I didn’t see any way around it.  What is boils down to is this: getting almost anything done with my children home is next to impossible.  However, I no longer want to spend my days off deep cleaning.

There are so many other things I want to do when I get a day off of work.  Instead of cleaning toilets, I could write, run important errands, see a movie, or just relax.  Luckily, my husband and I are on the same page.  We’ve decided to consider hiring someone to clean our house once a month and hope to get someone who will do it for less than $100.  This way, I can hire out the heavy lifting and not feel snowed in by all of the work. I will only have to keep up on things in between. There are simply not enough hours in the day to give 100% to everything, and I think we’ve finally decided that - in some cases - our time is worth more than money.

 

What do you guys think?  Are we giving into lifestyle inflation?  Do you tend to do all of the work yourself?  Do you feel snowed in by chores and buy more time by hiring out some of them?  Please share by commenting below.

 

 

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About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. I have a friend who hires a maid to do a lot of their house work. The reason for this is that he is able to make more money by running his business than he is by taking the time to clean up the house.

    I think you would have to do the sums, but in some cases it can work out very profitable to do so provided you are using that time you gained wisely.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..Rescue Pets after Christmas and Help Save a LifeMy Profile

  2. The snow wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I had to take my parents to the airport at 4:30am and it hadn’t started snowing, so I was in the parking lot of my job before they even closed the building.

    Now I get to snow blow my parent’s driveway and my driveway when I get home from work today.

    Glad everyone is safe in your family!

    • Back at ya, Brian!

      Yeah, it isn’t that bad. After I wrote this, a neighbor actually came over and plowed our driveway and sidewalk. Apparently he had gotten a new snowblower for Christmas and was feeling fancy. He did it while we went to pick up the kids so we were totally shocked when we came home and it was done!

  3. For yard work (we don’t have snow), we tend to buy tools that make it much easier for Mr. PoP to do the yard work himself. He enjoys his new leaf blower a ton, and our yard looks way better than before he had it.

    I do most of the housework, and am okay with doing it most of the time. I just listen to some podcasts or audio books and do my thing for a few hours. But it wouldn’t surprise me if having kids changed the equation. Right now if I don’t feel like washing the baseboards, I don’t wash the baseboards. They might look a little dirty, but Kitty PoP is just going to dirty them again by rubbing up against them. But if I had a little person crawling around licking the floors or baseboards (they do that, right?) I might be more inclined to hire some help to make sure they stayed extra clean. =)
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Why We Love Public RecordsMy Profile

    • Having kids makes a huge difference. There are just not enough hours in the day…and when my kids are home I need to play with them and pay attention with them instead of doing housework.

  4. I’ve written about this in the past – sometimes it’s worth it to pay someone else to do things instead of doing them yourself. We had a foot plus of snow a few weeks ago that required shoveling the driveway (and the path to the basement studio apartment) THREE times! It was a lot of work and makes us consider a snowblower because this isn’t a super uncommon thing for Minnesota. We won’t buy a snowblower because it’s relatively expensive and we can’t justify it. I think it all depends on your income, your lifestyle, and what you would be doing instead and how much you value things like writing or relaxing. $20 is cheap, btw.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..Should You Move Home After College?My Profile

  5. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what you did! I think it’s all about what your priorities are, and if you can afford little luxuries which make your life easier and hopefully make you a little more happy, then why not?
    Michelle recently posted..2012 and 5 Year Review – So many GOOD things!My Profile

  6. Holly!

    Please read Healing Back Pain by Dr Sarno! Cures my chronic pain of 3 years for almost 10 years now back pain free!

    Order it on amazon today. If it does help make a difference within 3 months of you finishing the book I’ll PayPal you whatever you paid for it!

    Best,

    Sam
    Sam recently posted..Your Money Strength: How Hard Is Your Money Working For You?My Profile

    • I did actually order it a few months ago, Sam, upon your suggestion. I need to read it again. I am a high stress individual and am 100% convinced now that my pain is stress induced.

      • I am also a high stress person and spent the past 2 months going to the chiropractor for back pain caused by stress & anxiety. Usually walking helps to reduce stress, and we walk every day. Finally it got so bad that I went to my doctor, then a neurologist, thinking I was really sick. Both suggested the same thing… a prescription for Lexapro. 10 days later I feel great, no pain at all and I haven’t been back to the chiropractor yet! I’m not necessarily suggesting you need medication, just mentioning that if you don’t do something to reduce your stress, it can take a huge toll on you physically. I recommend starting with regular exercise!

        • I am not offended at all. Several of my family members are on anxiety medication and I think a predisposition for anxiety runs in my family. I don’t want to go on meds but I wouldn’t rule it out. I really do appreciate your suggestion and Sam’s. It gives me hope that one day I can get the pain to disappear for good.

  7. It is definitely worth paying for those services, if you are paying for daycare instead, time with your family is much more valuable than scrubbing toilets while the kids are in daycare! $100 per month is probably giving you back 5 hours of your time, and some of it should even be a write off if your have a business account for your blog. Computers can’t be around dust!
    Pauline recently posted..2013 financial goalsMy Profile

  8. I struggle with those questions. Luckily our neighbors are older gentlemen who have ATV’s with plows and almost fight over who gets to plow out our driveway. I hate housework and the time spent doing it. I have wondered for years if a cleaning lady might be a good investment, but can’t pull the trigger. It made no sense with credit card debt, but that’s gone now. Maybe when the student loans are gone? My worry is that if we get a maid, will we then want someone to mow the yard, etc. I’m hoping that when I’m working less I will feel better about spending time on housekeeping. Right now, Saturdays should not be for mopping floors, but maybe Tuesdays can be?
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Five Businesses for “Retirement”My Profile

  9. I personally feel that my time has a value to it. If I can save some time and it’s worth the cost I have no problem spending the money on it. The money spent has to be less then the value of the time saved.

  10. In both instances, I think exchanging money for labor makes sense. I used to pay a cleaning service every other week at my home, but had to let them go after the quality of service declined so substantially that I was basically cleaning everything myself anyway. But I’m on the hunt for a new cleaner again because the same basic reason for hiring in the first place is still there — I work very long hours during the week and some time on the weekend, too, so the last thing I want to do with my spare time is clean the house. Kudos for recognizing when the scales tip in favor of hiring someone who wants the work.

    • I also feel good about hiring someone to clean once per month who is willing to work hard for the money. Cleaning houses for a living is a difficult and labor intensive job. I used to clean houses many years ago and I wouldn’t want to do it again.

  11. Well, I guess I have a different perspective than other people here but I have a 4 and 6 year old and I enlist their help cleaning our house. Yes, it does take some training on my part for them to do it, but they do a pretty great job cleaning toilets, counter-tops, mopping, and vacuuming. There is quite a bit they can do to be helpful. I have even had them cleaning baseboards before.
    I joke to my friends that by the time I can afford a cleaning lady, I won’t need one (I could afford one if I wanted, I suppose). But the truth is, there is value to having your kids start helping around the house doing age appropriate chores. They need to learn to work hard, do a thorough job, and to be part of our ‘team’. It’s something to consider. It’s been a process to get them to be good helpers but its starting to pay off for us as we can get the whole 4br, 3ba house clean in about 2 hours now.

    • Honestly, I think that’s very smart and I definitely plan on enlisting my kids to help in the future. My three year old is great at picking up toys and I usually pay her 25 cents or so to pick up the entire house. My one year old- not so much. She doesn’t have any concept of cleaning yet!

      I will definitely have them help out when they are old enough to do so. Sounds like a perfect plan to me.

  12. I succumbed to to it a long time ago! Part of reaching your goals, in my case financial freedom is enjoying the money. After all, what is it for?
    krantcents recently posted..2012 New Year’s Resolutions UpdateMy Profile

  13. Snowed in with housework and literally snowed in (well kind of). The grandparents and parents are still here because their flight got canceled due to the snow in Maine. I don’t have a housekeeper now, because I generally have more time-well sort of then I do money. If I had kids or other obligations I’d definitely spend for household help.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..2013 GoalsMy Profile

  14. I miss shoveling the snow…but that’s because I haven’t been around snow in ages, so the novelty hasn’t worn off. I can totally see how you can justify the expense. It’s easy enough to tidy up, but there is nothing like that deep cleaning that someone else can do. Sometimes you have to ask yourself if the time to do an activity outweighs the cost.
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Looking Back, Looking Forward Part 3My Profile

    • Yes, and its almost impossible to clean with the little ones at home. Sometimes I can get it done if Greg can keep them occupied for a while.

  15. Joanna @ Our Freaking Budget says:

    I agree with you 1000%!

    It’s all about opportunity cost. I think you’re making the right decision. My sister has three kids, and she recently started having a cleaning lady come every two weeks to do all the deep cleaning of her house. The peace of mind it gives her and the extra time she gets to spend with her kids is totally worth it. That said, she can also afford it, which is most important.

    Enjoy staying warm and cozy inside today! :)
    Joanna @ Our Freaking Budget recently posted..My Very First Credit Card (Sorry, Dave Ramsey)My Profile

  16. Mandy and I just discussed hiring someone to take car of the snow this morning after spending over 2 hours clearing the driveway. Mandy says her arms burn so much that it hurts to pick up the baby. She’ll be feeling it even more tomorrow :)
    Derek @ Freeat33 recently posted..All I Want For Christmas Is A Blue Yeti MicMy Profile

  17. Yeah, it sucked, but at least being snowed in meant Derek couldn’t go to work and we got to spend a few hours reading blogs together. I’m caving quick to the idea of getting a housekeeper. I’m thinking once every other week.
    Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom recently posted..Should toddlers be using high tech gadgets?My Profile

  18. I grew up with a weekly housekeeper, and got to college and STRUGGLED with remaking my bed! My roommate gave me a lot of flack for that. Now I want to always live in a small enough place with very few things, so that I don’t need to hire someone to clean up after me. (Can you tell I’m kidless?)
    Kathleen, Frugal Portland recently posted..Some Tips On Making Smart Financial DecisionsMy Profile

    • I totally understand that mentality, Kathleen. I want as little as possible as well. It gets harder to accomplish that when you have kids…but I still try to raise little minimalists!

  19. I don’t think you are giving into anything. We have come to realize the price of our time as we have gotten older. Sure we want to be frugal and money smart but this doesn’t mean we can’t ever spend. We hired a cleaner about a year and a half ago that comes once a week. They have been a godsend and really helped improve other parts of our lives.
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..How To Organize A ProjectMy Profile

  20. For me, I believe lifestyle inflation to be only bad if it eats up any extra income made. I see it in conjunction with raises or extra money; if you end up making your raise disappear with lifestyle inflation, you’re preventing yourself from reaching other, more important goals.

    For your situation, i just see it as aligning your priorities. You want to spend more time with your family, and that’s a GREAT thing. Plus, being frugal minded as you are, you’ve set a budget limit on it, and aren’t going overboard. I say GO FOR IT!

    But, just like credit cards, don’t let this turn into lifestyle creep, where you always need just a little more, because it can be a slippery slope. :)
    Jacob @ iHeartBudgets recently posted..Christmas On The Credit CardsMy Profile

  21. As a parent myself, I totally understand why you want to spend time with your precious babies instead of cleaning. I say go for it and hire someone. Kids grow up so fast and you can’t get this time back :)

  22. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    My sister has two young children and is pregnant with her third. She ended up hiring someone to help with house cleaning a couple afternoons a week and even to look after the kids for a few hours to get some much needed rest. She just couldn’t keep up with maintaining the house in a state that satisfied her and getting some needed alone time in order to get errands done and spend more time with her children. I agreed with her 100% when she asked me what I thought. Once the budget balances and all your expenses are taken into account I see nothing wrong with paying for services in order to gain precious time. I do it at times and without regret. Money is not only to save for our future selves, but to increase the quality of our life today.
    K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! recently posted..Sunday High Fives!My Profile

  23. I think we got the same 10 inches of snow as well. My brother and I use to shovel each other driveways and that even became to much so we went 50/50 in on a nice snow blower. No more back breaking snow shoveling for me.

  24. Interesting point. This is something I think about all the time. For example, at what point is my time better served by finding side-income or hanging out with my family rather than cutting and splitting firewood for the winter. Why don’t I just buy it and have it delivered? I just might next year. Up until now, I have enjoyed the exercise and the satisfaction I get out of it. But perhaps I could make more money doing something else which would more than offset the savings I get from doing it myself.
    Kyle | Rather-Be-Shopping.com recently posted..Online Coupons: Great Tool to Avoid Shopping Debt in 2013My Profile

    • I agree. Also, as we age, I start to worry about getting injured. Depressing, I know…but the last thing I want is my awesome husband to throw his back out hand shoveling our driveway.

  25. Sometimes spending money to free up your time is worth it, both for your mental health & to spend more quality time with your family.

    I’m in a different stage of life, but I’m considering hiring a cleaning service once a month to do the heavy cleaning. We work at home, and time spent cleaning is distracting me from working. The house being dirty definitely distracts me, so I’d be more productive if I just do the routine things and hire someone to do the heavy cleaning. When we finally get a break from work I want to get out of the house for awhile, not spend my time inside cleaning!

    • It makes me crazy when my house is dirty too! I am high stress, OCD, and somewhat of a clean freak. It is a blessing and curse.

      Hiring a cleaning lady sounds like a great plan for you. I might just be joining you! =)

  26. We bought a snow blower earlier this year; it happened before the last big storm of the year. It took me five years to buy it because like your husband I’m in pretty good shape and didn’t want to waste money. However, the time spent shoveling the driveway could have been spent on something else. In the end I’m happy with the blower because it takes 1/10th the time and less strain on the back.
    Depending on how much snow we get, in about 3 years it should have paid itself off in time saved.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..New Year’s Resolutions for 2013My Profile

  27. We got so much snow yesterday that I was out shovelling what seemed to be the biggest driveways ever at the relatives. I am one of those people who would rather use the shovel to move the snow. My father in law came out this morning, fired up the snowblower and was done it all with-in 30 minutes. If it were me I’d take that $20 (which is super cheap here it would cost alot more to get the drive shovelled or plowed) and buy my own snow blower that I will own. That way no back breaking, long periods of time with the shovel and I still have my investment to use at my disposal. Great post. Mr.CBB
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..A Beginners Guide to Early RetirementMy Profile

  28. To this point.. We haven’t yet paid anyone to do any of these remedial tasks.. I can’t stand spending a long afternoon cleaning, but it has to happen..

    However, I do feel like it can rob us of quality time that could be spent elsewhere, and totally understand where you are coming from.
    jefferson @SeeDebtRun recently posted..Up The Chimney Goes Your CashMy Profile

  29. I haven’t paid anyone to do things like shovelling snow or cleaning my house… yet. At this moment, I have the time and energy to do these things myself.

    Plus, with a teeny condo and no kids, cleaning house for us only takes about 1 hour a week, plus maybe half an hour each day to deal with dishes.
    CF recently posted..Discarding toxic people from your lifeMy Profile

  30. Eep! That sure is a lot of snow. Like you I find one weekend day is always taken up by chores and admin (and we don’t even have kids…). In the future I would definitely like to hire a cleaner to help out with deep cleaning occasionally, though for now we are young and rent a fairly small house.
    eemusings recently posted..In which I show my princess coloursMy Profile

  31. I would like to be snowed in… from work … in with the house work. Wouldn’t matter. It would be fun!
    Thad P recently posted..Revisiting (2012) ResolutionsMy Profile

  32. Did you guys get even more today? It’s getting silly around here.
    femmefrugality recently posted..Play with Free Virtual MakeoversMy Profile

  33. I think you just need to start by defining what your time is worth. Then if you can get someone else to do those tasks for less than what you would value your time at, then it’s a good deal!
    Alex recently posted..Money and Happiness: Where to go in a CareerMy Profile

  34. I am a single full time working mom with two small kids, and I have a very clean house. I don’t spend a lot of time doing it either. I think the fact that we are gone every day until 5:00 helps!

    Also, I have gone through all of our belongings and simplified and minimized things. When there isn’t too much stuff, it helps keep the place clean. Also, we don’t wear shoes in the house or have pets, which probably helps! I pick up everything each night for about 20 minutes after my kids go to bed. They clean up after themselves too. It seems to keep things under control. I also just do a little here and a little there. If I notice the tub is gross, I clean it. No schedule or anything. There is nothing wrong with hiring a cleaning service, I am just saying what works for me.

    I hired a cleaning service a couple of times when I was married and had more money. The house reeked of chemicals after they left, to the point where my throat hurt. If I had to hire a service again, I’d pay more to get one who used natural cleaning products. Just an idea…

    • Lol, I think that being gone all day helps too@

      I don’t do anything according to a schedule either. I just clean as I go, usually a little a day. And since I am a clean/control freak, my house is probably cleaner than about 90% of people’s….even when I think it isn’t. Unfortunately, our house is about 2400 square feet with three bathrooms. About 1000 square feet of it is tile that needs to be mopped. I swear it sounded like a good idea to get a larger house when we bought it many years ago….but now…not so much. I really think that we will downsize sometime in the future… I would like to get a 3 bedroom/2bathroom with about 1800 square feet or so. I think that would be so much easier to keep up on.

      I haven’t hired anyone yet…but I may. There are just only so many hours in the day and I work 40-50 hours a week and work about 20 hours per week on my blog and freelance writing. That doesn’t leave much left!! =)

  35. I understand it somewhat depends upon how often it’s applied, so address usage within your answer. What would you think about ‘light,’ ‘average,’ or ‘frequent’ use?.

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