Aug 13 2008

Frivolous or frugal to outsource tasks?

Sometimes, being frugal means doing a project yourself to save money. If you can do a job just as good as a hired expert, you can get the satisfaction of a job well done–and money saved in your pocket.

However, our time is worth something. If you have more time than money, it might make more sense to do more projects yourself. If you have plenty of money but are short on time, it might make more sense to outsource various tasks to others and let them deal with it. If you fall somewhere in the middle, you’ll just have to evaluate each situation to decide what’s best for you.

Here are some things that people could do themselves, but might choose to pay someone to do instead:

– Change the oil in their car
– Wash and wax their car
– Maintain your lawn (mowing, weed wacking, raking leaves, etc.)
– Pest extermination (oh gosh, just call a professional! I’m glad we did)
– Diaper services
– Personal shopping
– House cleaning
– Ordering take-out instead of making a meal at home
– Salon tasks (manicures, pedicures, haircuts, eyebrow maintenance, etc.)
– Hiring a tax professional to file your taxes
– Childcare
– General household repairs

I think it all depends on what’s going on in our lives to decide if it’s better to do a task yourself or hire someone else to do it. If you absolutely hate mowing your lawn every week and would rather spend that hour or two playing with your kids, for pete’s sake, pay a teenager to cut it for you!

If you don’t have the resources to change your own motor oil, there’s no shame in taking it to a shop. Look for coupons, of course!

And if you have a really busy day and there’s nothing in the freezer to prepare for dinner, don’t feel bad for ordering take-out once in awhile.

It’s good to be frugal with your money, but it’s equally important to be frugal with your time. What’s the point if you have a ton of money in the bank but you never have time to spend with your loved ones?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re being frivolous for hiring out a service. As long as it’s in your budget, do whatever is best for your family.



9 Responses to “Frivolous or frugal to outsource tasks?”

  1. This is an interesting balance. We want to be able to grow our own produce for the summer and beyond, are looking for car ramps so we can change our own oil, try to cook rather than eat out, and build some of our furniture rather than buying it… but there are times and places where none of that is practical or possible. As much as I admire those who grind their own flour and make all their own bread and clothes, those are things I have to outsource, for now. In the future, may even ::gasp:: outsource the education of my children to qualified teachers! Different levels of outsourcing make sense for different people. I get annoyed when DIY-ers look down on outsourcers. We’re all in different places, and that’s OK. Good thoughts.

  2. I agree that pest extermination is not for amateurs. We had a flea infestation once (our animals were indoor-only AND on Frontline!) and tried to handle it ourselves. It just got worse and worse, and after wasting about $50 and hours of our time we made the call. Now we have a quarterly service and it’s somewhat expensive but we love it. If there’s ever a bug they come take care of it, no questions asked and no extra charge.

  3. I think it depends on your budget, and what gives you pleasure. If you’re completely broke, you’ll probably be a DIYer more out of necessity than anything else. I know we were. If you have a more flexible budget, then you can look at how much you’re saving by doing it yourself, and how much you enjoy it. I love cleaning my son’s diapers. Sounds strange, but it gives me a lot of pleasure to see his little diapers on the drying rack in the back yard. So I would never hire a diaper service, because it wouldn’t be worth it to me. On the other hand, I do have someone change my oil. I only drive my car about 2500 miles a year, and I use synthetic oil, so I only change it once a year. The $10 that I’d save doing it myself isn’t worth it to me, since it’s not a task I enjoy. So I pay someone else to do it.

    Frugal Babe’s last blog post..Moving On And Letting Go

  4. i always take my car to get the oil changed because it’s hard to get to in our car, so it’s more of a hassle if my husband does it. plus, we have a family friend that does it for rather cheap :)

    tiffanie’s last blog post..splurging for great deals!

  5. Great post! We take the oil in for regular changes, and we have a service come and spray our home for spiders twice a year.

    I agree with the comments that balance is important, and evaluating what you can do — and what is practical — is important. Everyone has different priorities. As long as you are living within your means, outsourcing some of your tasks can be something that helps enrich your life so that you have time for things you might think are more important.

    Miranda’s last blog post..Credit Market Squeeze: Is It Actually Better for Your Personal Finances?

  6. Excellent post. There are certain things that people may not enjoy doing or have the skill to do and is completely worth spending money on to have done by others. The oil change is a prime example, I have an oil change place near me and for $35, I get a full service oil change and get a mini service car wash. Takes about 45 minutes of my time and it’s worth the money spent. In another life, I used a monthly cleaning service to come in and clean my house. I just did not have the time (but had the money) to really clean my house. I could have spent all day Saturday cleaning my house, but it was much easier to hire a company to come in and do it in 4 hours.

    As others have said, it’s how you balance your money, time and life.

    bouncing back’s last blog post..Girls Gone Wild

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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