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
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March 11, 2019