Thoughts on Outsourcing

house cleanerI am currently on my way home from vacation.  In my absence, please enjoy this post from Kayla from Shoeaholicnomore.com.

Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at Shoeaholicnomore or follow her on Twitter.

Washing dishes, folding laundry, and cleaning house. All of these are necessary tasks to keep you and your household functioning and sanitary, but none of these tasks provide big rewards or feelings of accomplishment. They are just really big time-sucks.

Now, in case you don’t know my backstory, I’m trying desperately to work my way out of the red by paying off my consumer debt and student loans. I still have between $17-18k left to pay off, but I’m hoping to be done paying them off by December 2016!

In order to speed up my pay-down progress and meet my goal, I’ve taken on a part-time job, started a direct-selling home business, and ventured into the world of online freelance writing and VA work. These are all in addition to my regular, full-time desk job at an ag-lending institution. Between all of these things, my time is stretched pretty thin, leaving me with only one day “off”, or less, each week to get the rest of my time-sucking tasks completed.

Outsourcing to Buy Time

Usually on my one day “off,” I’d rather be recharging my batteries and relaxing with family or friends instead of scrubbing the toilets or completing some other non-fun things. Therefore, I decided to use some of my hard-earned money to hire someone else to do these things for me.

My cleaning lady comes every other week. She set her own rate and it only sets me back $36 each time! She cleans the bathrooms and the kitchen, vacuums the whole house, and gets my wood floors shinier than I could if I spent a whole day on the task. Of course, I have to do some touch-up cleaning in between her visits, but for the most part I never have to deep clean my own house.  Now, that’s outsourcing!

Is Outsourcing Worth It?

I finally decided this expenditure was worth it to me because I get paid more per hour than I pay her to clean, plus it frees up my day “off” for the most part. I still have to do some awful things, like mowing and laundry, but the things I hate most are in her self-imposed job description. Plus, I feel like I’m contributing and helping her and her family by giving her another job to pay the bills. Passing on some of my money and getting so much help in return cannot be a bad thing.

Yes, hiring a cleaning lady does slow my debt progress down slightly. Yes, I could put that $72/month on my debt and it would be worth more since it would decrease my interest payments.  However, I like knowing I’ve helped a family in my community by providing a job. Plus, my house gets cleaner than it would if it were all left up to me! In my opinion, that’s a true win-win situation.

What tasks have you out-sourced to free up more time for income-producing activities?

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. We have a cleaning lady too and it is totally worth it! Sometimes you have to ask yourself “what is my time really worth?” For routine things like cleaning or mowing the yard it can totally make more sense to pay someone else a small fee to do it while you live your life doing what it is that you want to.

  2. The hubs and I were discussing this, also. I’ve taken on freelancing (and looking for VA work) so I can stay home with our two young girls. That means I am blogging, blogging,blogging every spare moment. Our house is a nightmare. Our yard needs work, because hubs is trying to do everything himself. Once I start earning money from freelancing, well out as much toward debt and savings as we can, but we will hire someone to clean house and to snowblow our yard. It will be worth it, because otherwise, I won’t be able to keep going.

  3. I haven’t gotten there, but I dream about it. My parents have had one for the past ten years or so, and it’s just so nice to not spend all weekend cleaning. That said, you have to keep the place tidy in between – it can’t get destroyed every time because then the date goes up, up, up (happened to a slobby friend if mine).

    • When I decided to hire her I wasn’t sure if I’d be judged harshly by my friends IRL and in the blogging community, but for the most part everyone has been supportive and understands why I decided to hire someone else to do these dreaded tasks.

  4. I also hire someone to clean our house. It kinda gives me a good feeling because at least I provide job for someone in our community. They are really good and kind that we become close friends. I kinda relate to you because I also work as a virtual assistant.

    • I haven’t really become friends with my cleaning lady, but we do exchange conversation when I see her around town. She and I both prefer that she comes while I’m away from the house (at my FT job) that way she can just clean in peace :)

  5. My mom has had one for several years now as physically she found it harder to clean her place. Outsourcing can definitely free up time for you to focus on other things.

  6. I dream of the day! I think we will hire a cleaning person some day, but we haven’t yet because I am fairly certain that once those tasks are taken off my plate I will never ever want them back. In other words, I would expect it to be a more or less permanent increase in our expenditures and we are not ready for that yet. Maybe when we get more of the debt paid off…

  7. I always say that as soon as I can afford a home, I’m going to afford a cleaning lady. Just cleaning my small apartment every few weeks drives me nuts.

  8. We outsource some of our chores to our 3 children. :) A cleaning service is one of the things that will be including in our budget once we are debt free,

    • Yeah, I always say that my parents had kids so they’d have someone to clean their house. My mom is terrible housekeeper and I still sometimes end up helping her clean and tidy when I go over there. Sigh! I don’t even clean my own house, but I clean hers?!

  9. We used to have a cleaning lady until we moved, but I want to find another person to do it! I put a high value on time and anything I can pay someone else to do, I do. I love the idea of outsourcing, because it benefits me and the people I hire.

  10. I used to be staunchly against outsourcing for things like housework, but because of the reasons you mentioned above, I have grown over the years to see the value in it. These days, I’m mostly outsourcing my housework to the kids. :-)

  11. Yeah if your time is more valuable than the service, then it’s worth it. I currently don’t outsource anything though, but had hired a few people here and there for some blog maintenance. Pretty few and far between.

    • I haven’t hired anyone when it comes to blog stuff yet, but I’m sure I will have to at some point and it won’t be cheaper than my time I’m sure. I’m just not very techy and need lots of help with that kind of thing.

  12. I have struggled with the decision of hiring a housekeeper for years and haven’t been able to pull the trigger. After we hit our financial goals, that’s at the top of the list. In your case, it seems like a good use of money vs time.

  13. I have several side businesses and a day job, and the way I deal with the time crunch is by trying to do bite sized chunks each day. That way, the money stays in the wallet for savings and there is no panic at the end of the week to get them done.

  14. I am 100% for outsourcing. I think it’s important to look at the pros and cons of how much does an hour or two of your time cost? Or, if you could be spending time with your spouse/kids/parents/volunteering why wouldn’t you spend a little money to free up your time? I have several friends who have someone come in and help them and their homes are spotless. Mine is too small or I would do it too!

    But, once the kids get big enough they would be cleaning as part of their chores :)

    • Using your kids to help around the house is a great idea. They learn responsibility and you get a clean house. Plus, in most cases anyhow, the kids usually get to earn a little $$ for chores too. Which you can then use for PF lessons like mindful spending, saving, giving to charity, etc.

  15. I’m open to outsourcing housework but my husband is very opposed to it. It’s like a personal dignity thing with him to take care of one’s home. Right now we don’t really have viable side hustles though, so it’s not a situation where we’d trade money for money through outsourcing. I’m hoping once we have kids, though, I’ll be able to convince him that time spent parenting is better than time spent cleaning..

  16. I think outsourcing is a great way to save time. It’s also a great way to use your money if it will really give you the time back that you need. However, I do think it depends on how aggressively you’re paying off your debt if it’s worth it. Personally, I make a lot more than $40/ hour but it’s not worth it for me b/c I can clean a little everyday and put the extra money on my student loans. Once I’m debt free, then I’m definitely in the market for cleaning help. :)

    • I decided it was worth it. She charges $36 for 1.5 hours so about $24/hour. I make more than this with my FT job and the majority of my side hustles, so I decided it was worth it to give her some $$ and give me back some time.

  17. The perks of having a small apartment is that it takes less than an hour a week to clean the whole thing (between two people). For us is not worth to pay somebody to clean our tiny place, but we’re not against it once we get a bigger place and have kids destroying everything.

    • I agree – sometimes I miss having a much smaller place that I could effectively clean and keep up with more easily by myself. Now I live in a bigger house and don’t have the time to devote to everything that it needs. My cleaning lady is very efficient and effective with her cleaning. She takes only about 1.5-2 hours to clean my house and I know it would take me much longer to do it and it wouldn’t look as good as when she does it. She must have some magical secret that I don’t know about cleaning.

  18. I really haven’t outsourced much at all. The reason being, I’m just going full steam ahead and sacrifice on sleep to make up for it. It’s not a sustainable approach, but it’s what I’m doing while I’m repaying debt and trying to get into a better place financially. One day I would like to outsource cleaning, lawn care, and a whole bunch of other things. Until then I will keep doing those tasks along with my 9-5 job and my side hustles.

  19. I am a big fan of outsourcing when it makes sense. I have a cleaning lady and she has been coming to our home every other week for 6 years now. I joke that I love her more than my hubby. She saves me hours and hours of my life when she comes and I make significantly more an hour than I pay her, so it makes complete sense for us. I am all about cost benefit analysis and total return decisions, and this is one that makes sense for us.

    • I totally agree. I do love my cleaning lady and I know I sleep best and feel most relaxed on the evening of the day she comes to clean. Everything is so sparkly, smells clean, etc that I just feel more refreshed even if I’m low on sleep and busy, busy.

  20. I am very lucky to have a boyfriend that doesn’t mind doing half the chores to keep our apartment looking decent. We try to do a bit of cleaning up each day so that it never gets to the point where we’re swamped. Little things like washing the dishes after dinner, putting things away properly, etc. have made a difference for us. I think it’s a great idea when it makes sense, and it sounds like you’re getting a lot out of it!

  21. For me anything that I am capable of doing well I will not outsource, like mowing the lawn I can do this my Dad taught me I’m not paying $100 month for someone else to do it. If though my job which makes $100/hr requires me to work during my lawn mowing time then yes I would outsource but that doesn’t really happen for us. My financial independence is more important than saving 30 minutes mowing my lawn.

    • That is a different perspective, thanks for sharing. Yes, I suppose this makes sense to a point, but I still decided to outsource some of these things to create not only more working time for myself (where I make more than I’m paying for the outsourced services), but also to create more downtime for myself. I did’nt want to spend all my “free” time working around the house. Plus, my cleaning lady gets my floors shinier than I could ever do on my own, trust me I’ve tried!

  22. I’m with you, Kayla. We have a cleaning lady too. We do daily maintenance and the girls, of course, have their weekly job list to earn money but she does the heavy lifting. Our lives are busy and time is such an incredibly valuable commodity to me. I’m perfectly fine paying someone and helping them take care of their family while also allowing me more time with my family. When it comes to debt payoff, it is personal. Some people will accuse you of not taking it seriously, and I would disagree with them. You’re sacrificing almost all of your free time between a second job and side hustles, something has to give or you risk burnout.

    • Thanks Shannon. Glad to hear you are on my side on this one :) Time is very vaulable to me right now. Yes, I want to get out debt and money is a valuable commodity for that to happen, but I’m still human and I need some downtime now and then :)

  23. I am all for outsourcing if you don’t have time to do it yourself. I used to have a house cleaner who would come to clean my apartment. She only came once a month but her price was so worth it! Some people don’t approve of this but it was worth it to me.

  24. I’ve never really considered a cleaning service because I sort of like to clean (is that weird), but with two kids, a full-time job, and a budding side hustle I’m busier than ever. Maybe it’s worth looking into…

    • Maybe it is something to consider. If circumstances were different, you could’ve maybe turned your like of cleaning into a side hustle too! Not many people like to clean, at least if they do like it they haven’t told me. Haha.

  25. If I’m being honest, I’m a little lazy when it comes to cleaning too. If I didn’t hire someone it wouldn’t get done as regularly as it does now. I would always put it off and work on something else instead because I hate cleaning.

  26. Not bad! I’m not to the point yet where I can afford to outsource a lot of things I’d like to, but hopefully I can get away with it soon :) My time is too valuable to spend it doing certain things. Stephen R. Covey, the dude who wrote 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, even hired someone to open and go through his regular mail because he simply didn’t want to waste his precious time doing it.

  27. We’ve had cleaning people, babysitters, and yard work helpers at different points in time. Now? No, though I wish we did!

  28. We used to have a cleaning lady about 10 years ago and I loved her. She came every two weeks but our house is large (4000 sq ft incl basement) so it cost us $120 for 6 hours. My husband decided we couldn’t afford it anymore and we stopped but I have missed her ever since. I never want to entertain anymore because the house is such as mess and even if I clean it completely, I never have time then to do the closet and cupboard cleaning, windows, blinds etc. as much as I would like. I think if I lived in a small space I would be able to keep up with the cleaning myself, but when so big it get’s to be too much. Never mind the yard work!

  29. My outsourcing is more for vehicle maintenance so far because: A) I suck at it and B) I don’t really have all of the equipment needed for some stuff.
    I think we all have areas in which we desire to outsource or already do.

  30. Right now we are looking at hiring a cleaning person to clean the house every 2 weeks. I think this will help free up more time on weekends that can be spent working on side hustles. I don’t think the costs outweigh the benefits for me but thats not the case for everyone. Cleaning can be expensive but for me I think its worth it

  31. I LOVE outsourcing. Although I haven’t done it much for household chores, I have found it to be a great way to save time and money on my personal business projects.

    If you freelance at all, then determining whether or not to use outsource a task is pretty easy. For example, if Holly (this blog post author) can make $50 writing a blog post in an hour, and it costs her $36 to have someone spend 3 hours cleaning her apartment, then clearly, outsourcing is a no brainer. Spend one hour writing an extra article, and walk away with 2 extra hours of time and $14! It’s a great trade.

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