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Updated on Wednesday, May 4, 2016
When I lived in Manhattan I pretty much hired people to do most of the things that I didn’t enjoy doing myself. I dropped my laundry off and it was magically washed, folded and delivered back to me. I ordered groceries online that were delivered to my doorstep. Once or twice I even had someone come in and clean my apartment (although this felt entirely too luxurious and wasteful to me, seeing as how I had about 400 square feet to deal with tidying).
After I moved to Colorado I quickly gave up most of these luxuries, (especially because in New York I lived on the fourth floor of a walkup … would you want to carry kitty litter and heavy cat food cans up 50 steps?), but I still don’t really enjoy doing them myself. From time to time I still wonder if it would be worth it to hire someone else to take these pesky tasks off my hands.
To arrive at the answer of whether or not it’s actually worth the often-hefty price tag that comes with these types of services, I like to ask myself these three questions first before dishing out the cash:
Question 1: Why don’t I want to do this myself?
The answer to this first question can usually help me determine whether or not it’s even worth moving on to the next two. For example, if the answer to “Why don’t I want to do this myself?” is simply that I don’t enjoy the task, to me, that’s not a good enough excuse to hire someone else to do it for me. However, if the answer is that it takes a long time, I get frustrated with it and it distracts me from doing other potentially more important things, then I can begin to think about how much my time is worth to me, which brings me to question number two …
Question 2: How many hours would I have to work to pay off this person?
It’s a popular question that experts suggest people use when determining whether or not it’s worth purchasing items (as in, “How many extra hours would I have to work in order to afford this pink cashmere sweater?”), and it’s equally as helpful in this situation. For example, if completing a task myself, for free, would take less than an hour, but to hire someone else to do it I’d have to pay him the equivalent of a couple hours worth of my salary, then I can safely determine that it’s probably not worth spending that money.
Question 3: What will I have to give up to pay someone to do this?
Assuming you haven’t budgeted these particular items into your monthly expenditures, it’s worth considering what you’ll have to forgo in order to pay for the services you want completed. Of course the answer should never be that you’ll withhold money from your savings, retirement or debt repayment plans to pay for unnecessary expenses, but if you’re perfectly willing to forgo the dinner out with friends this week because you simply don’t have the time to get around to cleaning your apartment before your parents visit this weekend, then in that case, it might be worth hiring the cleaning service. Of course if this becomes a regular habit, it’s probably also worth taking a look at your budget and seeing where you can scale back permanently each month to make room for paying for this new element.