I was reading Reddit this morning and came across this post from someone who’s spouse got a new job and created a lot of turmoil in their household. Essentially, the ‘normalized’ pattern of life was disrupted when the author of the post wife got a new job and changed their entire schedule.
Reading that post reminded me of a similar incident in our family but instead of whining or complaining we put our heads together a found a way to solve the problem and part of the solution was to start outsourcing some of our load.
I don’t remember the exact year but it was around the time my oldest kid started high school. I started a new job and the job suddenly required me to fly to California every other week for about 3 months. I would fly out Sunday or Monday and come back on Thursday or Friday, stay local for a week then fly back out the next week. This created a huge problem with our schedule and put most of the burden on my wife to handle everything when I was gone. It was unfair and unsustainable for her to be doing all the work.
Outsourcing 101 – Chauffeur
The first and most immediate problem was that our kids were now going to two different schools. One kid was starting high school and the other kid was in another school. This created a logistical problem in which two different drop offs in two far off locations needed to happen every morning. Our kids went to private schools so buses were not an option. It was fine while I was in town because I would drop off one kid while my wife would drop the other kid off at a different school. When I was gone however it was impossible to do both because the kids schools were too far apart so one would get there late.
Solution: Outsource and hire a Chauffeur
Don’t get the wrong idea, my kids weren’t being dropped off in a Bentley driven by Jeeves the chauffeur. I had a relative that was out of work and I asked him if he could pickup and drop off the kids during school days and I’d pay him for his help. He agreed and I think I paid him about $500 or $600 per month for essentially 2 hrs worth of work 3 or 4 days per week. The kids were often in after school activities so the “chauffeur” didn’t need to do it everyday, just days that neither my wife or I could be there to pick up the kids.
Outsourcing 201 – Cleaning Maid
Our second problem were all the extra household cleaning duties that two teenagers and one absent parent and two working parents created. We hired a cleaning lady that would come to our house and tidy up once per week. The cost of her service was typically $150 per visit but to us it was worth its weight in gold in unloading a bunch of cleaning tasks that neither of us had time to do.
Solution: Outsource cleaning to a service
Outsourcing 301 – Landscaping
When we first bought our house I was eager to head to Home Depot and splurge on lawn mowing equipment to keep my lawn and landscaping pristine and immaculate. I didn’t realize that it would literally take me 3 hours each weekend to mow, trim and clean up the entire landscaping of our estate. Those three hours on the weekend were precious for us to spend time with each other & family and relax & recharge for the grueling work week.
Solution: Outsource to a landscaping service
I actually have two landscaping service providers. One just does the lawn, trims edges and cleans up and charges $50 per visit. The other does more detail work involving trimming hedges, trees, shrubs and mulching. The latter has more variable costs but it’s typically around $300 to $500 per quarter.
Outsourcing 401 – Professional Services
As you get older and progress your financial journey you’ll need to learn to outsource a variety of activities such as financial management, certified public accountants, legal services, consulting services and others but most of those will be temporary and you should anticipate having to spend money for these services at some point in your life. It’s always beneficial to have accountants, lawyers, and real estate professionals as friends in your network.
Outsourcing Isn’t Forever
The most important thing to remember is that outsourcing some activities in your life doesn’t have to be forever. The chauffeur only lasted until our oldest kid got his drivers license and then was commissioned to drive the younger kids around as part of his ‘contract’ to be able to drive a car.
The cleaning and landscaping service we have retained because it made much more sense for someone else to do those services and free up our time for other things.
Ultimately, everyone needs to sit down, create a budget and identify the pain points in their life that need to be addressed and think creatively about whether outsourcing some activities will lead to better results than trying to do everything yourself.