Two years ago, I felt stressed all the time. My son and I were busy with school, work, and community activities. On weekends and holidays, instead of making fun memories, we tidied the house and ran errands.
Finally, tired of choosing between my son and a clean house with a full pantry, I made a new choice — I started paying others to do what I was perfectly capable of doing myself.
I began outsourcing parts of my life.
Does it make sense to DIY?
The idea behind do-it-yourself (DIY) projects is to save money, pointed out J.R. Duren, a reporter with consumer review website HighYa. But is it really worth it to save money in exchange for your time?
After spending 10 hours attempting a DIY car fix, Duren finally took it to the dealership — where it took only two hours.
“It cost more than the DIY job, but only in dollars,” Duren said, expressing regret that he could never get the wasted time back. “The time you save will be much more valuable.”
You potentially could make more money with side hustles and by picking up extra shifts at work. However, once your time is spent, you can’t get it back.
In 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spent almost two hours on household activities and more time on other chores that are ideal for outsourcing.
Duren recommended that people weigh the time it takes to complete a task and figure out if it’s worth saving the money.
I decided that getting back three hours of my life each week was worth the $20 per hour I paid my cleaning lady. Grocery delivery and yard care also are worth the cost to me. Now, my son and I have fun together, and I have some hours freed up to focus on work that pays me much more than I spend on outsourcing various aspects of my life.
4 things to consider when deciding what to outsource
As you decide whether the don’t-do-it-yourself (DDIY) approach is the right one for a task, here are four things to consider:
My decision to start paying others had more to do with convenience and flexibility than anything else. Grocery shopping, yard work, and housework were the items that took up a lot of my time each week — without offering much in the way of satisfaction.
I hired workers to take care of the house and signed up for HelloFresh, a meal-planning service. My son and I still do laundry and make our assigned meals together, following the recipes that come with the delivered groceries.
Now, I have more time and energy for things that matter the most to me. And the house is always clean, the yard always neat, and the refrigerator full of healthy ingredients for the next meal.
As much as you’d like to outsource some chores in your life, it’s not always practical, pointed out John Rampton, a serial entrepreneur.
“While it’s nice to get that time back, you do have to weigh the monetary cost,” said Rampton, who is the founder and CEO of Due, a company that offers time-saving invoicing tools aimed at freelancers and small businesses. “You might not be able to outsource all the things all at once.”
Instead, he suggested listing out the tasks most eligible for DDIY. Research the cost to outsource them. Once you have that information, Rampton said, you can choose one item that you can afford to pay someone else to do immediately.
“Once you see what you can do with the extra time you’ve just bought yourself, you’ll look for ways to afford to outsource the next task on your list,” Rampton said. “Look for ways to save money each day, use part of the time to make extra money, and pay attention to the feelings you have now that you can spend more time with loved ones.”
In some cases, DDIY is more about your ability to do the job — and do it right.
Most people can change the oil in their cars if they have the time and desire, Duren explained. However, when his own vehicle experienced a more complicated problem in a hard-to-reach spot, all the YouTube tutorials in the world couldn’t help him.
“If you don’t have the confidence or experience to handle something, go to the experts,” said Duren.
Some of the tasks that might require a professional touch include:
- Complicated car repairs
- Electrical issues
- Large-scale plumbing projects
- Landscaping and building projects that require specialized equipment
- Some legal services
- Complex tax issues
- Health remedies for some problems
Before you embark on a DIY experience, make sure you do have the tools and knowledge necessary to complete the endeavor.
“It might take you one or two hours to change your own oil,” Rampton said. “But take it to a Jiffy Lube or Grease Monkey, and it’s done in 30 minutes.”
I can relate to that. It costs me about $45 to have someone else change my oil. But with my freelance and consulting work, I can make more than $100 an hour. Even if I could change my oil in an hour, it would be the equivalent of costing me at least $55.
Rampton said some things might take you more time to do, just because you don’t have the practice. Preparing your tax return might take you twice as long as it would for an experienced accountant, and putting in a sprinkler system might take you a week when professional landscapers might have it done in a day or two.
“Unless you really enjoy an activity or can’t afford to outsource it, why would you waste your time doing it?” Rampton said.
Make a plan to outsource something today
Don’t be like me, waiting until you’re almost at your wit’s end to start outsourcing errands. Instead, take a look at some of your daily and weekly chores, and weigh the costs and savings. Figure out if there’s even one thing you can take off your plate.
“If you can afford it, pick something to outsource right now,” said Rampton. “And if you really can’t afford it, make a plan to reduce expenses or make more money so that you can eventually buy yourself more time.”
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