Psst, I make money on some of the links in this post at no cost to you. It keeps the lights on around here.
I attended a retreat held by my company a while back. My boss gave a speech about how to balance work and family life. I listened with excitement, hoping to hear some work-life balance tips, since I take that very seriously.
My jaw dropped to the ground when my boss declared, “I don’t believe in work-life balance. Success only happens in the extremes.” She then proceeded to encourage us to hire maids, a lawn service, and outsource our grocery shopping to make more time for work.
Aside from this being an unhealthy world view, it definitely was a lesson on how uncommon frugal living actually is in our day and age. I always assume other people share my ideals, but it’s not always the case. My coworkers eagerly nodded during the boss’s presentation, and a few approached my boss after the retreat to thank her for giving them permission to outsource.
They felt they could finally be moms and wives again instead of slaves to the ever-growing list of chores.
They felt liberated to hear someone say it was okay to get help.
To outsource or insource?
I really feel for my coworkers. I don’t have kiddos to care for, but some days I’m certainly tempted to hire a maid, a nutritionist, and hell, even a masseuse.
Our lives are really busy nowadays, particularly as women and men are expected to juggle the stresses of work and running a household. Both of those things are full-time jobs; it’s no wonder so many of us feel stressed and out of time.
I get the temptation to outsource tasks. I really do.
But the issue here is that we’re sacrificing money each time we outsource a task. Money isn’t something we should just toss around. Money is the tool we can use to either chain ourselves to a bad situation or to elevate ourselves financially.
We have to find a balance between the tasks we outsource to others, as well as the tasks that we “insource” by doing ourselves to save money. Here’s a list of what I like to outsource, as well as how we insource to save money and meet our financial goals.
What I outsource
I’ve had a few people in the personal finance world hang me out to dry for paying for oil changes.
Y’know what? I don’t care.
I will gladly pay a $20 upcharge to have an oil change done (hopefully) correctly, quickly, and with zero mess on me or my driveway.
Plus, our cars have really weird quirks that necessitate “special equipment” of some kind to change their oil. I know I could do this myself, but this way, I save time and don’t have to worry about safely disposing of used oil myself.
Although I love to cook at home, Mr. Picky Pincher and I also appreciate good restaurant food.
Oh, who am I kidding? We also appreciate $5 dinner boxes at Taco Bell. 🙂
The point is, sometimes we outsource our meals, either out of wanting a treat or because I #$%*ed up meal planning in some way. The key is that we don’t eat out all the time. We limit how often we outsource our meals so we don’t overspend.
There are some things that we were just not meant to DIY.
If you aren’t a trained electrician or plumber, I can’t in good faith recommend that you tackle these projects yourself. We outsource any issues that can’t be easily done with our existing knowledge and materials to experts.
It’s expensive, sure, but it’s safer and could even save us money in the long run.
Growing up, my dad did all of the extermination work around our house. He even had a special poison cocktail that he sprayed regularly around the house to kill bugs.
This is something we could do ourselves, but we hire a bug guy instead. This is mostly because a) it’s one more thing to do, and b) these toxins are dangerous when they’re wet and airborne. I’d rather pay an exterminator to spray the house instead of exposing ourselves to the poison.
Fun fact: the exterminator did seem like he’d been licking the poison. He actually told me he accidentally got a mouthful of the spray.
Nice guy, though!
What I insource
Food (most of the time)
As you’ll see from our What’s for Dinner? and What A Frugal Weekend! posts, you know that we insource most of our food and cooking.
This has been the key to reducing our grocery bill. Does it mean I spend more time cooking? Absolutely.
I spent more time cooking and meal planning than I have before (our strategies are in this eBook if you’re curious). I’ve been sorely tempted to get myself a personal chef, sure. But I enjoy cooking and it’s something that I do to save money for our family.
Yard work and gardening
Mr. Picky Pincher takes care of 99.99% of the yard work. The other .01% is me sitting on the porch and barking directions at him. 🙂
Mr. Picky Pincher is such a trooper when it comes to maintaining the exterior of our property. He mows, weed-eats, and maintains the garden during growing season. It’s not an easy job! Insourcing these things is a no-brainer right now, since Mr. Picky Pincher is fit and loves the outdoors.
On the flipside, our elderly neighbor outsources her lawn work, and I totally get it.
Fun fact: I’ve never operated a lawn mower because no one trusts me to do so!
I am not a big fan of cleaning, but I am a big fan of having a clean house. I sweep, mop, dust, and more on my own. Mr. Picky Pincher usually takes the helm on the dishes and I like to wash and fold laundry (although “like” is a strong word).
I’ve entertained the idea of a maid, of course. I’ve even priced out how much it would be to bring someone in twice a month to do the deep cleaning! But at $200/mo, that’s the same as my Roth IRA contributions. That’s not money I’m willing to part with in exchange for sparkling toilets.
Honestly, I will probably pay money for a Roomba as a way to moderately outsource sweeping, because it’s so time-consuming with our tile floors.
Mr. Picky Pincher and I have learned how to cut our own hair. This wasn’t, uh, done without some learning experiences along the way, of course.
Nowadays, though, Mr. Picky Pincher whips clippers around his head like a seasoned barber. I trim my bangs and split ends myself, so salon visits aren’t necessary. I stopped dyeing my hair years ago, so my hair maintenance is pretty low-key.
The bottom line
This speech from my boss was provocative. It made me realize that everyone is different and some people find outsourcing to be an essential part of juggling our busy modern lives. I have nothing wrong with outsourcing at all.
I would definitely caution people against outsourcing most tasks, though, because the lost funds make it that much harder to meet your financial goals.
We want to know: What do you like to outsource?