They say you can’t put a price on your time, but I disagree.
Last month, I spent hundreds on outsourcing household chores — things like cleaning, landscaping and dog walking, and it was worth every penny. To be fair, these are all things I could do myself, but at the expense of time spent working as a freelance writer or caring for my 1-year-old son.
Here’s how our family reached the decision to outsource our basic household maintenance — and why I don’t feel guilty about it, even when people raise an eyebrow that I don’t take up these tasks myself.
THE DECISION TO OUTSOURCE
I started my freelance writing and editing business a few months before my son was born and have been working steadily since. Once he was born, I knew I wouldn’t go back to an office full-time. But I also knew I wouldn’t be able to freelance, care for him and keep the household running like it did before baby — even with the help of my husband.
So we discussed potential solutions and realized that a once-a-month household cleaning service was not only worth it from an hourly perspective (our cleaner charges around $45 per hour while my freelance rates hover at around $75 per hour), it also made sense from a family time perspective. We didn’t want to spend our Saturdays scrubbing toilets when we could be taking a walk, going to the park or simply bonding with our baby.
While the household cleaning was initially meant to be temporary, it worked so well for our family that we just never stopped doing it. Then we decided to outsource the landscaping, too, since it really wasn’t something my husband enjoyed. The $105 monthly charge for mowing and maintenance was well worth the money for some extra weekend time together.
Once we realized outsourcing household tasks was necessary for our family’s health and happiness, we had to work it into our budget.
We also hired an as-needed dog walker, since our poor pup wasn’t getting the attention he used to before our baby came along. Walks cost $18 per 30-minute walk.
Finally, my son is almost 1 now, and we recently made the decision to start him in a part-time preschool program in the fall.
THE BUDGET BREAKDOWN
Once we realized outsourcing household tasks was necessary for our family’s health and happiness, we had to work it into our budget. When the babe starts preschool this fall, we’ll be spending $889 a month on services that free up my time.
So we're saving elsewhere. For example, we eat 90 percent of our meals in, which we’ve calculated saves us thousands of dollars per year. (And to be honest, no one enjoys eating out with a baby, anyway.)
Since many of the household duties were now taken care of, I was also able to increase my freelance hours. This not only meant more money coming in for now, but it will also boost my earning potential in the future. That’s because the more experience you have as a freelancer and the more published pieces you have, the more regular assignments you can get and the more you can charge.
While my son’s preschool program is pricey ($550 per month), it opens up 24 hours per month of uninterrupted work time for me. At my current freelance rate, that’s nearly $2,000 in earnings. Plus, my son is able to socialize and make new friends. A total win-win.
AN INVESTMENT IN TIME
Since outsourcing household chores, I’ve been able to grow my career, spend more quality time with my family and be a more present mother. To me, it’s worth every penny of the almost $900 per month. And yes, I realize that having the funds to do this is a privilege. For that, I’m incredibly thankful.
Making these household decisions was a team effort, of course. My husband never expected me to take on more housework once I started staying home with our son. And we've always split caring for the home anyway — he cooks, goes to the grocery store, does laundry. (I know; he’s a gem.)