Busy educators know their time is very valuable and can be more precious than money. Unfortunately, no amount of money can buy even one extra minute to add to the 1,440 in each day.
However, money can buy the freedom to choose how we use the time we have. One way to do that is to hire others to do chores and other jobs we’d otherwise do ourselves.
There’s no fixed rule to help you decide when it makes sense to hire others or when it’s better to do the job yourself. Some experts recommend evaluating your needs using these two steps:
1. Figure out what your time is worth by dividing your pay by the number of hours you worked to earn it. You’re aiming to determine your own hourly rate.
2. Weigh the task’s “opportunity cost.” That means figuring out what you’d lose the opportunity to do if you did the task yourself. For example, if you spend 90 minutes scrubbing floors, you lose the opportunity to spend those 90 minutes relaxing with a good book, studying a second language, spending time with your family and friends—or other things you value.
“Hiring someone to help you with something you think you should be able to do yourself can be immensely freeing,” says Janine Adams, a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing in St. Louis, Missouri. “It’s less a question of whether you can do the work on your own and more a question of whether it’s worth your time to do the work on your own,” she says.
Forcing yourself to do chores you dislike or aren’t good at is draining. If you let someone do the work for you, “you’re free to pursue the things you love,” says Adams, who pays someone to clean her house every two weeks. Why? “I hate cleaning, and I'm not good at it,” she says. “Now I don’t have to worry about when I’ll do it, nor do I have to feel guilty for not doing it.”
7 chores you may want to outsource
Would you pay $18.50 an hour to save 245 hours a year?
If you hired help to take care of all seven chores we’ve listed below, you’d get back 10 full days to spend however you’d like. (Of course, you’d spend more than $4,500 to achieve that dream!)
Of course, not all chores are costly to outsource. To help you figure out which ones are worth the expense to save yourself precious time, we’ve broken down the seven chores below by how much you’d paid for help and how much time you’d save yourself. Do research in your area, as costs of some services can very widely depending on your location.
1. Grocery shopping
If shopping for groceries takes too much of your time, give home delivery a try. Order online or by phone, and pay by credit card. You can use store loyalty cards for the same discounts, coupons and gas points you’d get in-store. Shop any time it’s convenient (including in your jammies), and skip the driving, searching for a parking space, navigating crowded store aisles and carrying home heavy bags. A minimum purchase may be required, and you might get delivery discounts after your first order. And as an NEA member, you can search for discounts on grocery and meal services such as Peapod and Blue Apron through NEA Discount Marketplace.
Amount spent: $5-$15 for each delivery, on average
Time saved: about 1 hour per week
Professional maid services can take care of the jobs you don’t want to do, can’t do or don’t have time to tackle. Many people prefer to hire help on a regular basis for routine cleaning. Other options including hiring help to do a certain job (e.g., kitchens, bathrooms or windows only) or for certain occasions (preparing for a party, holiday cleaning, etc.). Rates charged may be hourly or per square foot. Companies can quote you a fee after performing an on-site evaluation.
Amount spent: $2-$40 per hour; about $100-$200 per month for weekly visits
Time saved: 4-5 hours per month
3. Yard maintenance
A lovely lawn and grounds can make a home more attractive, but maintaining all of that on your own can be costly. If you have a gas mower, you’ll need to pay for fuel. Plus, you need to buy or rent equipment—mowers, trimmers, etc.—that needs to be purchased or rented, stored, fueled and maintained. And you could spend entire weekends for months on end simply mowing, raking and weeding.
Amount spent: about $1,500 a year to hire yard-care experts to mow, water, weed and rake leaves.
Time saved: about 70 hours (it’s like giving yourself a nearly two-week vacation!)
4. Pet grooming
If Fido isn’t fond of being brushed, bathed or trimmed, or if Fluffy is skittish about nail clipping, ear swabbing or tooth brushing, then a trained groomer may save both of you time, stress and frustration. Chain stores such as PetSmart and PetCo offer on-site grooming of all breeds of dogs and cats. Find reputable professional groomers at leading pet supply chain stores that sell grooming services supply.
Amount spent: about $40-$60 for regular grooming (depending on size, breed and services needed), every six weeks
Time saved: about 4 hours per grooming session
5. Organizing your home
Disorganization and clutter can be overwhelming. A professional organizer can help, Adams says, by helping you create a realistic, workable plan to achieve your goal, with systems that align with your natural traits. For example, if you have trouble paying your bills on time, an organizer could help you figure out why to uncover workable solutions, such as de-cluttering your desk or switching to an automatic bill pay system.
Amount spent: average $50-$200 per hour, depending on what work is done in your consultation
Time saved: 1 to 2 hours or more per month—plus time you save by not having to look for lost bills, a reduction of stress, and the elimination of late fees, increased interest rates and expired coupons
6. Shipping packages
Packing items for shipment is simple, if you know how and if you have the right size and shape box, packing material and tape. If you don’t, consider paying a pro to pack that gift for Aunt Zoe or boxing up a product you sold on eBay. At The UPS Store, the packing branch of United Parcel Service, “We want our customers to be able to focus on what matters and leave the logistics to us,” says Nicole Cox, public relations supervisor.
Amount spent: about $8.20 for a small box (a 1-pound, 8-by-8-by-2-inch gift box)
Time saved: 30 minutes (more if you don’t have materials on hand)
7. Tax preparation
Income tax filing can be exhausting, whether you tackle it the old-fashioned way on paper or use computer software and online tools. The majority of taxpayers choose to use a tax preparer to save a lot of time and aggravation. Note that as an NEA member, you have access to tax preparation discounts through H&R Block.
Amount spent: $140-$410 or more, depending on which forms you need to file
Time saved: 22 to 32 hours on average