Spend time on what matters—outsource these 5 tasks

Posted by Hakyun Morrissey.
In the spirit of spring cleaning, I recently decided to declutter my life.
The hope was to reclaim a few extra hours of quality time with my family each week. This forced me to ask a question I had long been avoiding. Namely: Are there things I could be paying someone else to do?
It behooves us all to take a balance-sheet approach to our leisure hours in order to prioritize what really matters. While it’s impossible to put a dollar amount on time spent with loved ones, it’s worth taking the time to compare the costs vs. benefits of outsourcing. Here’s how I did it for these five common tasks:

Child care

Cost: $211 per/week, on average.1
Benefits: The cost seems very low, when you consider the enormous benefits. To my sanity, for one. Going out to work doesn’t just bring more bacon into the household, it gives mom the ability to take a break and find her passion. Day care introduces your kids to a diverse range of other kids, while trained educators enable your children to develop the social skills needed to help them thrive in the future.

Home cleaning

Cost: Around $35 per hour in my area, but it varies by location.
Benefits: That feeling of walking into a clean, organized house is hard to beat. In theory, I could clean and organize my pad every day, but in practice, procrastination wins. Dishes pile up, unkind friends ask me if I get the dust delivered by Amazon. When I do dust and clean, it never seems worth the effort; I always seem to miss a grimy corner. Home cleaners have the necessary tools and supplies to clean everything to my liking. Paying someone to do it also buys me more time with my family, which, as a working mother, is especially precious.

Preparing meals

Cost: $20.37 per takeout meal, on average.2
Benefits: Sizzling onions, simmering spices…cooking can be a joy. Loading and unloading the dishwasher, not so much. Even though ingredients for the average homemade dish2 cost just $4.31, it’s not always easy to find the time to serve up an elaborate meal, and the time you do spend in the kitchen might be better spent reading to your kids or watching a TV show together that you all love. A chef has the professional wok that sautees vegetables to the level of crunchiness our family loves.
If it’s the deciding-what-to-cook and grocery-shopping part you find stressful, a meal kit containing raw ingredients, delivered directly to your door complete with recipe, only costs $12.53 per meal. 2 Definitely nice to have it as an additional option for when I’m too busy to go grocery shopping.

Home improvement

Cost: Depending on where you live, a handyman can charge as little as $60 per hour.
Benefit: Putting dimmers on our lights, painting our bedroom, fixing our garbage disposal…all things that we can do with some effort and YouTube. However, I’d rather the professionals do this correctly and safely the first time.

Financial planning

Cost: Freely offered by many employer retirement plan providers, a consultation requires only an hour of your time.
Benefit: I’ve included this one because it’s close to home, but it also applies to any kind of professional advice: Legal, medical or even relationships. There’s this internet-age fallacy that we’re all experts on everything because so much information is at our fingertips. However, knowing how to interpret data and turn it into reliable, actionable advice requires serious training. For example, CFP® Board certification requires 6,000 hours of professional financial planning experience. 3 Sparing just an hour of your time to benefit from all that hard-earned knowledge seems like a small sacrifice indeed.
Even if you outsource some of your tedious chores only some of the time, those reclaimed minutes spent with loved ones can be worth their weight in gold.
1 Average day-care cost for an infant child in the United States, according to a 2018 survey by Care.com, https://www.care.com/c/stories/2423/how-much-does-child-care-cost/
2 “Here’s How Much Money You Save By Cooking At Home,” Forbes, July 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/priceonomics/2018/07/10/heres-how-much-money-do-you-save-by-cooking-at-home/#29038c7035e5
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America has sponsored Ask the Expert posts for informational purposes only. Many of the experts are unaffiliated with Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, College Retirement Equities Fund, and their affiliates and subsidiaries (collectively TIAA), and TIAA makes no representations regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information on the posts or otherwise made available by the experts. Statements of external featured experts are solely their own and are not endorsed or recommended by TIAA.
Responses from experts to questions posed by Woman2Woman community members are intentionally general in nature and are not intended to give personal, financial, or specific advice. Some strategies are complex, and more information is often needed to determine the personal needs of a community member. We strongly recommend that you consult with a financial advisor before taking any action based on an expertʼs opinion or other information you obtain from the Woman2Woman:Financial Living site so that all of your personal circumstances can be taken into consideration. Participation in the site does not render the member a client of the expert or of TIAA.
This site is not designed to accept or respond to requests or complaints regarding specific TIAA accounts, products or services. If you wish to discuss an issue of that nature, please contact TIAA at 800-842-2252. TIAA is not responsible for any opinions provided by members of this site. TIAA is not responsible for the content or privacy policies of third-party sites to which you may link.
The TIAA group of companies does not offer tax or legal advice. You should consult an independent tax or legal advisor for advice based on your own particular circumstances.
This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice under ERISA. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor’s own objectives and circumstances. Experts may not have medical or scientific training. Any information related to physical or emotional health is not intended to be used in place of a consultation with a physician.
TIAA is not responsible for the statements of community members. We may link to posts made by community members only to direct you to topics that may be of interest to you. This does not mean that we agree with the opinions of these community members. Their statements are solely their own and are not endorsed or recommended by TIAA.
March 11, 2019
758758