In these uncertain economic times, many people are looking for ways to save money and analyzing their “discretionary” spending. We’re also entering a very busy holiday season and are looking for ways to save time and reduce stress. When does it make sense to hire a service provider to help? When does it actually pay to spend money on outside help or expertise? We’ll examine several instances in which outsourcing provides a return on investment that makes it the right choice.
When a task causes great stress or when the results are important to you, but you just don’t have the time: If there is a task that you avoid because you just don’t like doing it (ie: cooking, housecleaning, yard work), see if there is an affordable alternative out there. Can’t stomach paying for a weekly service? Squeeze it into your budget every other week to give yourself a break.
Does meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking stress you out? Several options are available to help you put healthy meals on your table with minimal effort. Consider local services such as Dream Dinners or Dinner’s Ready — you go once a month and assemble many meals at one time to bring home to your freezer. Many of the same services will assemble for you, and some even deliver. Stuck in a rut? Try a personal chef for a limited period of time to give you new ideas and take the load off your shoulders. Karen Rosenzweig, the Incredible Chef, advertises that it doesn’t cost much more to use her services than you’re already spending on groceries, gas, eating out, take out and fast food.
When you can’t be the expert in everything and mistakes could be costly: Think tax accountant, business consultant or financial advisor for examples here. It can pay to retain experts in matters such as these. Financial Advisor Dino Guzzetti with Edward Jones says, “paying the fees of a financial advisor can not only help you do the best things with your money, it can also provide peace of mind that you may not make costly mistakes do-it-yourselfers have been known to make, such as investing with their emotions.”
When your “bill rate” is higher than the cost of the service: If you work in a business, or run a business and can make your business $75 per hour at what you do, then it can make sense to pay someone else a lesser fee (a personal assistant, a house cleaner, an errand service, a bookkeeper) to get things done for you and free up your time to bill clients or bring in new business. In this example, when you perform assistant-type tasks, clean the house, or do your own bookkeeping, when you could otherwise be billing clients, you are essentially paying $75 per hour to have these tasks done!
When the service can save you money down the road or protect an asset: Paying to have an major appliance serviced, your roof cleaned and treated, your car maintained, or your home painted, are all examples of proactively spending money now to make something run more efficiently, cost-effectively and to extend the life of the asset (thereby saving you money on a replacement before its time).
When relationships matter: If spending money on a service provider can enhance or save relationships that are important to you, then that is a wise investment, in this writer’s opinion. Counseling services to repair a relationship or tutoring services to end parent/child homework battles are two great examples. Another is handyman services to take care of the “Honey-Do” list that may be lying around and cause for guilt or disagreement. Issaquah handy service, Shirey Handyman, even uses an advertising slogan, “saving marriages, one household at a time.” As relationships can sometimes be tested during the holiday season, keeping these resources in mind can be helpful.
When you want to learn to do something for the first time, more efficiently or more effectively: Investing in the services of a personal trainer can ensure you get the most out of your workout time. A professional organizer can show you how to set up and maintain systems for organization and productivity that allow you to get more done in less time. They can also save you money by making sure you can find what you need, when you need it so that you don’t buy duplicates. An interior decorator can give you ideas on how to rearrange some of the things you already have to change the atmosphere. This can be important during the holiday season if you want to save money by entertaining at home.