The title may sound a bit strange if you have been following my blog for some time. I am forever singing the praises of saving and investing your money so that you can gain financial freedom and free up your time to do what you want. Time on earth is finite and the more of it we can use on our own terms, the better. In fact, the whole reason I am following the path to financial freedom is to buy me and my family quality time.
So why do I say your time is not worth that much?
Because people will often use their free time to get out of doing jobs that they can do themselves. Hiring painters to paint the house, lawn maintenance teams to mow our lawns, cleaners to clean our house, and so on.
Outsource or DIY?
It really boils down to a question between convenience and money. Is the convenience of outsourcing the work more beneficial than the saved cost of doing it yourself.
The arguments for outsourcing usually sound like “In my day job I earn $30 per hour, so why would I take a break to clean the house when I can pay someone $25?” The problem with this line of questioning is that we can’t work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your free time is not worth $30 an hour. There is no price on your free time unless you would have been working instead. In other words, the cost for you to do your own cleaning is zero. Not $30. Your free time is not paid time like your job.
There are of course situations where outsourcing can make sense. You may be physically unable or have little free time and don’t want to use that limited time on chores. But that raises other questions for me.
Why don’t you have free time? If you are working too many hours is it because your expenses are too high? Maybe if your expenses are too high you shouldn’t be outsourcing work, then you can have lower expenses. Then you may not need to work as much to keep up with expenses and you will have more free time. In other words, outsourcing may not be the solution to your lack of free time, it may be part of the reason for your lack of free time.
Why are you not physically able? Again, if you are working too many hours you may be sitting at a desk all day. Then you need time to relax by working so many hours that you crash on the couch when you get home. Sitting down for such extended periods is very bad for our bodies and unnatural. We were made to move. By not doing our own lawn mowing or gardening we are saying no to physical activity. Again, outsourcing may not be the solution to our poor physical shape, it may be the part of the reason for it.
Of course, there are circumstances where we genuinely can’t do things due to broken bones, illnesses, disabilities, and so on. Physical activity won't stave off all ailments, but it will give us better odds.
DIY is a great way to keep in shape. We have a hand mower at home with a large back section. It takes about half an hour and is a free workout for the arms. Not only is mowing the lawns a good physical exercise, it is also good mentally. With our hectic lives, I find mowing the lawns a great way to slow the mind and relax.
DIY also saves lifetime costs. For example, if you can learn to fix the toilet plumbing or your vehicle brake pads, then not only do you save the one-off cost of that event, but because you now know how to fix it you will save money EVERY time this happens. So, instead of paying someone each time it happens, you get to keep that money in your pocket just by taking a bit of time up front to learn the skill. We are not short of educational material either to learn new skills. Google and you tube are great for this. If you add up the lifetime costs of outsourcing you may be not so pleasantly surprised.
Who knows what you may learn as well. You may find a new passion. Something else that tickles your interest that could bring you in another source of income. The feeling we get from learning new skills and achieving results is a great feeling. A real sense of accomplishment. Even better if you can involve friends or family in working things out. A real sense of togetherness can be achieved.
In short, DIY or insourcing will keep us healthy (both physically and mentally), will teach us new things, will save us LIFETIME costs, and will give us a sense of pride.
With outsourcing, you may think it is freeing up your time, but if you add up the costs it may be having the opposite effect. Using the 4% rule of retirement, a $2,000 a year lawnmowing, gardening and cleaning service will require an extra $50,000 in retirement. If you save $5,000 a year, that $2,000 cost may mean an extra 8-10 years of work.
In the last year, I have learnt to do my own taxes, build an outdoor gym, make home brew, make vegetable garden beds, design a deck, and start my own business and website. These are all tasks that could easily be outsourced, yet I have taken the time to learn the necessary skills so that I could grow as a person, quite literally. The home brew will grow my belly.
Each year, I can learn something new I become a better version of myself. Next year, I hope to learn more about my vehicle such as changing brake pads. I am a complete novice on anything regarding vehicles, but I greatly enjoy the challenge of figuring things out. It keeps me balanced.
I have outsourced installation of new windows, building a deck, and plastering. There are things that even if I do learn how to do, require a bit of skill. I was happy to pay for these things due to the superior finished products. I would also not perform surgery on myself!
Most of what is being discussed I am referring to relatively simple household tasks. There will always be outsourcing needed for more technical jobs. Most electrical and outdoor plumbing work would need a registered tradie for the work to be safe and legal. I’m also not quite ready to perform surgeries either.
There is a lot to consider, such as limited free time spent on family experiences or busy doing household chores. But just remember that the more you spend on outsourcing, the time you are trying to free up now may be costing you much less time, money and health in the future. It is a balancing act for sure.
The information contained on this site is the opinion of the individual author(s) based on their personal opinions, observation, research, and years of experience. The information offered by this website is general education only and is not meant to be taken as individualised financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, or any other kind of advice. You can read more of my disclaimer here
Comment below. How do you feel about outsourcing and DIY? Is the cost of outsourcing worth it? If you weren’t doing DIY household work would you find other more productive uses of your time?