Author Topic: When Is It Prudent to Spend Money to Save Time (Instead of Vice Versa)?  (Read 6842 times)

ReadySetMillionaire

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Another thread got sidetracked and had an interesting/intense debate about this issue.

I've made my feelings well known, but just to summarize: I think a lot of people on this forum put too much focus on frugality and saving money that they underestimate the value of time. Hell, the point of FIRE is essentially to use money as a tool to buy time, so why not use money now to save time now?

An example for me: It takes about $2,500 to pay for my car each year (assuming $1,000 in maintenance per year, which is a high estimate). Compared to biking to and from work, my car saves me nine hours per week just on my work commute alone. So basically I'm paying $50/week to buy myself 9 hours of time, or almost $5/hour. That's very much worth it to me.

That said, there's a threshold of when the calculus tips one way or the other for a variety of things. Should you clean yourself or hire a cleaning person for $200/month? Should you try and fix your broken garage door or pay someone $50 to fix it? Do you pay for a lawnmowing service? Etc.

So what is that threshold for you? When is it wise to spend money to save time instead of spending a lot of time on something to save money?

boarder42

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so that one got locked due to this debate so you start a new one to keep it going

this can only end with

another mod lock

Zikoris

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I think framing it as either/or is the wrong way to look at it. The way I see it, if you don't want to maintain a lawn, do a lot of housework, and commute a long distance, the obvious solution would be to move to a smaller place (way easier and faster to clean), close to work without a lawn.

I guess I think less in terms of time vs money, and more consumerist sucker vs self-reliant badass.

KCM5

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I think that you should look at your options, honestly asses the impact of each choice, and go from there.

Your honest math says its worth it to you to stay where you are, drive to work, go to the gym/jog/whatever (you exercise, right?), drive home, and pay $5/hr for the privilege? Great! Seriously. You've done the math and decided that was what's right for you.

But to say that time is money is simplifying matters a bit too much. I work a salaried job and I'm not interested in doing any additional paid work, so outside of my normal work hours, I'm not going to be earning any extra money. It's all leisure/housework/commute time to me. So I'll use that time as I see fit and I often use that time in ways that save me money (diy home improvement, veggie garden, cooking from scratch, walking/biking errands). Your situation may be different. And that's fine. Also, I'm probably more badass ;)

ReadySetMillionaire

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so that one got locked due to this debate so you start a new one to keep it going

this can only end with

another mod lock

That was a narrow thread with 4-5 posters going back and forth, and that discussion was off topic from the original post. I thought I'd ask the broader question to a broader audience, which should consequently lead to a good dialogue. Hopefully things don't get so personal again.

And on that note, I'm just going to step aside and hope to read some engaging discussion.

pbkmaine

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We pay people to do things that are fast and easy for them but slow and difficult for us. Examples: we have high ceilings and hired a strapping young electrician to put the huge ceiling fan up. I do my own painting, but hired a firm to put in our laminate floors. We have many weird angles in our house and DH and I never could have done as meticulous a job.

ETBen

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It really goes to how each individual measures opportunity cost.  Some will say "I make $X per hour" and do the straight math.  I see people stop there all of the time, not considering that they aren't actually realizing that money.  Others (more accurately) figure in whether there is an actual cash flow benefit to that opportunity cost.  And others then factor in emotional or lifestyle factors.  But it's largely individual. 

I would say factoring all three is the most accurate way to make a decision, but then the weighting on each is still an individual barrier.

pancakes

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There is more to it than just time and money for me.

Other things to consider include health, socialisation, joy, achievement, etc.

I've been reading a lot of articles encouraging people to outsource mundane day to day tasks recently. Fine if it frees your time up for income earning greater than the outlay but I suspect most people can find plenty of time savings without outsourcing, e.g.  by procrastinating less (I am one of these people).

Retire-Canada

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An example for me: It takes about $2,500 to pay for my car each year (assuming $1,000 in maintenance per year, which is a high estimate). Compared to biking to and from work, my car saves me nine hours per week just on my work commute alone. So basically I'm paying $50/week to buy myself 9 hours of time, or almost $5/hour. That's very much worth it to me.

Your cost in the example above is $50/wk + 9hrs of lost exercise + environmental impacts of driving instead of biking.

I think 7-10hrs of exercise/wk is a reasonable amount to stay healthy. How much exercise are you getting every week aside from cycling?

Dicey

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...this can only end with another mod lock
Only if people are not polite.

swick

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so that one got locked due to this debate so you start a new one to keep it going

this can only end with

another mod lock

That was a narrow thread with 4-5 posters going back and forth, and that discussion was off topic from the original post. I thought I'd ask the broader question to a broader audience, which should consequently lead to a good dialogue. Hopefully things don't get so personal again.

And on that note, I'm just going to step aside and hope to read some engaging discussion.

MOD HAT: There is no problem with the question and having a thoughtful discussion and quality, intellectually based discourse is always going to be supported. Acting like an ass-hat and derailing threads to the point where moderating is difficult and takes a large amount of time to sort out results in threads being locked. Moderating is a volunteer position and we don't have time to sort out the squabbling and vitriol that happens when things get personal. /MOD HAT

To contribute to the topic, personally, we use a sliding scale and look at each situation individually. I've come to the slow realization that you can always earn more money, you can't get the time back. If it is something I enjoy, I can learn from, will give us a new skill or sense of accomplishment, we do it ourselves. If it is something we really don't enjoy and feel we are sacrificing our time for, or it would be substantially more time/expense to do it ourselves or we can't learn the skills to do it properly, we hire it out.

We have also consciously designed our life to make the best use of our time and resources. We usually try a hybrid approach of learning the basics of things ourselves so we can give it a shot or at least be knowledgeable if we need help on something.

I'm a red panda

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When both of these conditions are true:
1) When you have the money to spare
2) When you need the time for something else


I guess "something else" could be "sitting on the couch watching Netflix" if you really want it to be. It's all about choices.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Early on my journey to FI, I would never have considered outsourcing.  Either I would fix it, clean it, mow it, etc. or I'd defer the expense and pore over how to get it done as cheaply as possible.  I'd even accept an inferior offer, if the value proposition were sufficient.  I had an incredibly high value on money and focused on investing every spare dollar as soon as possible to speed my progress to FI.  The equation changed quite a bit after I hit FI, still enjoy my newish job, and make better income than I used to.  Labor is pretty affordable in Houston  :) 

I guess I'd summarize to say that I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, a lot of our time vs. money valuation is personal and complicated by utility as a function based on circumstances.  IOW, I don't expect there will be a satisfying conclusion to this thread.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2016, 05:45:41 AM by EscapeVelocity2020 »

Frankies Girl

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I have paid for someone else to do something I could technically do, but was in a mentally fragile place and just could not take ONE MORE THING #$@! screwing up. So I threw money at the problem and made it go away. I feel no guilt whatsoever over doing so, because dealing with stressful situations when already stressed out is just an awful situation.

And frankly, that's what money is for sometimes. To lighten the stress and buy your way out of a situation you just can't stand to deal with at the moment.

In the instance of trading dollars for time, I used to pay out the money to save time. But as I'm also fully FIREd now (husband too), we are weighing the time aspect differently since time is now at a surplus. So really, it goes back to how frustrating the situation can be, how skilled we are with that particular fix/DIY, and whether the task would be better covered by a professional in the event that we are so unskilled that we could do more damage than good. (and by damage, I mean both actual damage to whatever we're working on, and whether we end up at each other's throats because of frustration and anger)

Like in the case of our roof, we paid a pro to re-roof our house. Sure we could have spent all summer learning how to do it and saved at least half the cost, but neither one of us is all that handy, we already had a leak situation, and we live in a very brutal climate for roofing (heat/humidity/hurricanes/hellish - Houston is called "H" town), so the cost of having a pro do it and is covered with a very extended warranty to fix for free unless it's storm-damaged (and insurance will cover that part) means we got it done in a day, don't have to freak out every time it rains (and it rains all the damn time here - even having wide-spread flooding!) and technically never have to think about the roof as long as we're in this house.

But I'm cleaning and refinishing our wood deck this summer myself, because that is easy for me and I can do a decent job on my own. It costs me maybe $20 in deck stain/UV protector and cleaner (I use laundry detergent and oxy that I already have on hand). I think if i paid someone, it would cost around $500 and they'd likely use a pressure washer and damage the deck wood. It takes me about 4 hours not including wait time to dry. I get exercise, a little sun/fresh air and the deck looks good for about 2 years. That's a decent trade-off for me.


So TL/DR version? If it can be done with a minimum of cursing and screwing up, we'll do it, but if there is a chance of us making a mess of it or it's just too frustrating or completely outside of our abilities, we'll throw money at it with no guilt whatsoever. 
« Last Edit: May 17, 2016, 09:46:11 AM by Frankies Girl »

Giro

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I pay for things that I don't like to do or can't do because of a gap in skills or in tools.  (usually tools)

I drive to work because I don't like to ride a bike for necessity.  It's cold/hot/wet in the mornings when I would have to leave.  I don't want to get up early because I'm lazy.  The ride would be dangerous due to teenage drivers going to high school and texters speeding to work. 

Your mileage varies.


mm1970

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Quote
To contribute to the topic, personally, we use a sliding scale and look at each situation individually.

Pretty much this.  I mean, even the car thing isn't an even/or.  For most people.  Sure there are some people who can live without a car.  But I'd wager that most people have a car (though we have a neighbor who is getting rid of his).

So, I have a car.  Will have a car regardless.  It costs me insurance.  The rest of the costs are per mile (maintenance, gas, etc.)

Owning a car does not preclude biking.  I used to bike to work 1-2x a week (10 miles each way).  I didn't have to do it every day.  I saved money and wear and tear each time I did it.  Yes, a round trip is 30 minutes by car, and 1 hr 45 minutes by bike.  I "lost* 3 hours a week!!  Well, except I got exercise that I would have done anyway.

Then I had a kid and we still biked sometimes...but we biked one way (by then our jobs were near each other).  So I'd bike in and husband would bike home, and we'd use the bike rack on the car.  Still not an either or.  Driving less means less gas, less maintenance.

ketchup

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When both of these conditions are true:
1) When you have the money to spare
2) When you need the time for something else


I guess "something else" could be "sitting on the couch watching Netflix" if you really want it to be. It's all about choices.
I would agree with this, also throwing in a rule for urgency.  I do 99% of maintenance and repairs on our two cars, but in January one had a fuel line leak. 

I could have done it myself for cheaper, but the vastly decreased gas mileage (20MPG normally vs 5MPG at its worse, seriously) , the risk of it getting worse during a bunch of planned upcoming driving, and the downright safety risk of driving it at all like that all pointed to just taking it in.  About $115 and it was fixed while I was at work.  It would have been a week before I would have had a chance to do it myself.  Plus, fuel lines are scary, and it was January and on the car that doesn't fit in my garage.

"When you need the time for something else" is where I've seen it make the most sense to farm something out, usually related to business more than outside it.  There's a reason CEOs don't paint their own offices.

Dicey

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I used the principles of Mustachianism to complete the FIRE journey I began lo-o-o-o-ng before the term was coined.

Brace yourselves folks, there are revelations coming:

- I have a house cleaner.

- There are three cars in my driveway and none in the three car garage of my clown house.

- There are three bikes in the garage that rarely get used.

- [Gasp!] We use a financial planner!

Guess what? I'm FIRE, I WON!  I never have to work for someone else again. Amazingly, I can even hire people to work for me to do things I don't choose to do. Mustachianism is a tool that helped me over the finish line. If I'm less Mustachian post-FIRE, who cares? I'm FIRE, I'M FREE! YIPEE!!!!

forummm

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kite

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When in Rome, literally.
We hired a tour guide, and her credentials took us past the hours long lines waiting to get in the Vatican museum. This was a very efficient use of money.  Similarly, we hire car service when traveling most places rather than spending the time renting a car, refueling, parking, etc.  There is a slight charge for the driver's time, but we've found it worthwhile in every circumstance. 

Around home, we don't outsource much of anything aside from some tailoring.  I'd have more polished looking landscaping if I did, but I don't care enough to spend the dough.  We are planning to install a fence, and I'm strongly considering it, especially since I'm not getting any younger.  But my older (by 6 years) sister is a DIY champ, and my competitive spirit kicks in making me think if she can, I can, too. 


kendallf

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Some good points have been made regarding engineering your situation for improvement, so it doesn't have to be a binary time/money choice.  That's the root of the MMM philosophy, IMO. 

Another great reason to insource is self improvement.  Gain a skill, gain confidence in your problem solving abilities.  Do this often and your new skills begin to interlock and you're more capable in many ways. 

Finally, doing your own work makes you appreciate the time, effort, and skill necessary for good results.  It cures you of Tiny Detail Exaggeration Syndrome and helps you evaluate what actually matters.. effort expended is usually better measured than the all-to-easy action of pulling out the wallet.


VaCPA

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For me it comes down to utilizing my time and money in the way that will maximize my happiness in this life. Sometimes that means doing things myself to save money and be able to use it on other things. I do a lot of DIY things around the house to save money and it can be kind of enjoyable sometimes. But sometimes that means hiring tasks out. I think it was my post about hiring a maid that set off the debate in the other thread. I never wanted to do it but my wife did. In reality I hate cleaning/chores so there's no way I could replicate what a maid service does and my wife loves it. It increases her happiness which in turn increases mine. No regrets spending the money there. I don't really care if it's not "Mustachian" but I do think this site is interesting and has some good ideas. We'll get to retirement in great shape and hopefully have a lot of fun along the way.

Tjat

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I read that other thread, and a few people drew some arbitrary line in the sand where on one side was the noble mustachian zealot who adhered to an internet blog with fervor and the other was the wasteful spendypants goober who would pay someone to bathe him if given the opportunity. It was utterly ridiculous.

I continuously weigh the cost/benefit of trading money for time. For instance, as the parent of a new baby, I have very little time right now and like to spend most of my discretionary time with my new child. So, when my concrete front stoop broke over this past winter, I paid someone else to replace it. Could I have watched youtube, spent 60% less, and several precious weekends to learn and do it myself (and have a dysfunctional front entrance during that time)? Yep, but I thought it dumb to do so. Repairing it quickly also allowed me to take advantage of a healthy market increase and refinance the house.

I also hire someone to mow my lawn and recently paid a lawyer to create a will and other Estate documents. Gasp! But then I also do my own taxes and save 60% of my income as well.

I opine that as long as someone is making a mindful and conscious cost benefit choice to spend money on X that they can comfortably afford, go for it. Even if you want to own a boat or something...


Retire-Canada

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If you are hitting a strong savings rate like 40%-50%+ and you want to spend money on something you could do yourself I don't see a problem with it personally.

My one caveat is that most people don't get enough exercise so if that thing you are paying for means you sit more and do less physically I don't know that it's a good trade off.....not from the money perspective, but from a health perspective.

neo von retorch

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I think the point of this thread is "your individual threshold"; that the threshold exists, and it can be personal, rather than absolute.

I like math and spreadsheets, but I'd bet that the threshold is usually more about emotion (like fear) when it comes to hiring out. When I had water leaks at my old house, I never even considered fixing it myself. I called a plumber, and I shelled out the nose for it. (Then I married a plumber's daughter...) When it comes to cars, I have become comfortable with operations relating to oil, spark plugs and brakes, but I'd still be nervous about trying to do something involving belts or rubber hose (brake and fuel lines.) I've never paid anyone to fix computer hardware or software, but my uncle did fix stereo equipment for me. (Now I'm trying to fix a late 70s Pioneer SA-6500 myself, but my initial attempt has been unsuccessful.)

I did hire a landscaper... for my rental which is almost 2 hours from home. For my wife and I to spend 4 hours on the road, plus 4-8 hours in the yard, and pay turnpike tolls ($29 round trip) and wear'n'tear on the car... I'm writing a check. (We only have one day off together each week, and we're newlyweds, so I suppose we're being a little complainypants here.) But at my house, I'll do just about anything imaginable outside. (I've yet to cut down a tree. I want a chainsaw, I really do, but it's not something I need just yet. And the neighbors have made it clear they love to do this, and then those that burn wood share it, so if I share my trees that need cut, they'll cut them and share firewood with me!)

I can't think of too many things I'll hire out, though. My wife almost had me thinking we'll hire movers when we moved, but I thought about it a lot, and eventually I decided it was something that just wouldn't ever sit well with me. I'd be thinking about that $400-500 for a long time after we moved, and cursing that I didn't just man up and lift some heavy things for a couple hours. (We ended up with so much volunteer help that it went much more quickly and easily than I could have imagined, and I was extremely happy with the money saved. Happily spend a bit on food and drink for those friends and family!)

SimplyMarvie

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My outlook changed a lot on this when we started living abroad. Partly, the cost of labor here is so much cheaper that it seems a shame not to use that to our advantage. But mainly, I didn't fully appreciate how much harder it is to DIY when you don't know where to go to get basic supplies, or when sending something out involves a lot of complicated conversations in a language you're only sort-of comfortable with, and driving around in strange and quasi-safe parts of a city where you still get lost in the grocery store parking lot.

My job offers me a concierge service that for a flat 10% fee will tackle most administrative tasks for me. I've paid them to get my shoes repaired and resoled (because calling around to find someone who could do it, plus taking them downtown, plus going back to fetch them cost more in time and gasoline than the 10% concierge fee), mailing something to the UK through Local Post (because getting the right stamps involves an ID number I don't have), and finding a dentist who can deal with cowards, which meant a lot of business-hours phone calls in the local language -- which I am conquering slowly, but still have a tough time on the phone.

All things that are both hard and time consuming, where help is inexpensive and really takes a load off my mind. I never would have done it in the US, but it makes sense here.

little_brown_dog

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I think it depends on the person and their current financial state. Hiring a cleaner is a dumb move if you are in cc debt up to your ears and in the red every month. It doesn't really matter if you are a multimillionaire, cleaned your own house for years, and now want a break by spending 200 a month so you can enjoy that time doing something else. Person 1 is wasting the resource they need more of (money) while person 2 has more than enough if one resource and wants to use it to gain more of another (time).

As young parents we eat out once a week to give us a break from cooking every single night. Does our 30 buck meal habit matter that much? Not really....we are hitting all our aggressive savings goals and we are very financially secure. To us as tired young parents, it is worth more to have a night with less work than putting that 30 bucks extra into savings. On nights we order take out I save a solid 2 to 3 hours of time I would otherwise spend cooking and cleaning up.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2016, 05:33:13 PM by little_brown_dog »

kimmarg

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I just payed $5 for someone to grocery shop for me. Our local store just started online ordering. For $5 you put your order in online and then just pull up to the store in the car and they load the groceries in the trunk. No minimum order, and I've only used it for very large 'stock up' type shops. Gotta say though with a 5 month old baby it really tips the scales. sure, I could spend an hour shopping with the baby or I could just leave her asleep in the carseat and have them load everything in the back. sleeping baby is worth $5!

redbird

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In the last place I rented, I had masking tape that got stuck to the window. I tried many different methods to try to get it off but it only came off extremely slowly (there was a LOT) so I gave up. I knew my landlord would charge me for it, but I decided that it was worth paying because of how long it would take me. It turned out the landlord only charged me 3,000 yen for this "damage" (this was in Japan - less than $30). I felt like I got a deal and was glad I gave up. My time was more valuable to me than my money.

Meanwhile I will wash my own car by hand instead of taking it to the automatic car wash or paying for a hand wash. I feel like I get it a lot cleaner and it doesn't really take that long for me to do. I feel like I'd rather have the money. Plus I get to enjoy being outside while I do it!

Everything gets a case-by-case evaluation like that.

csprof

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I continuously weigh the cost/benefit of trading money for time. For instance, as the parent of a new baby, I have very little time right now and like to spend most of my discretionary time with my new child. So, when my concrete front stoop broke over this past winter, I paid someone else to replace it. Could I have watched youtube, spent 60% less, and several precious weekends to learn and do it myself (and have a dysfunctional front entrance during that time)? Yep, but I thought it dumb to do so. Repairing it quickly also allowed me to take advantage of a healthy market increase and refinance the house.

I also hire someone to mow my lawn and recently paid a lawyer to create a will and other Estate documents. Gasp! But then I also do my own taxes and save 60% of my income as well.

I opine that as long as someone is making a mindful and conscious cost benefit choice to spend money on X that they can comfortably afford, go for it. Even if you want to own a boat or something...

I'm another of these.  As was probably apparent from the other thread where I mentioned that I have a housekeeper. :)

I try to rank my options using a few metrics.  (This may come out poorly explained because I'm not sure I've ever tried to actually quantify the weights I attach to these things):

- Cost savings vs. outsourcing / the other option (e.g., car)
- Time savings of the more expensive option (outsource, car) vs. DIY
- Exercise from the DYI approach (gets a free pass for time up to ~10 hours per week, depending on the type)
- Learning opportunity from the DIY ("increasing badassity", to use the local term)
- vs. my ability to actually do it right or learn, within time available, to do so.
- Family harmony (bluntly translated, I have lower standards of clutter than my wife, and making sure we both get our needs met is important to us, even if there's a monetary cost).
- Enjoyment
- Bias towards things I can do with my family / daughter.
- Environmental cost & benefit.

I take some function of those that's a little guesswork-y and then rank order the things I could be doing with my time.

- I choose to pay for a housekeeper (I don't learn much or enjoy cleaning, it takes a fair amount of time, the cost savings is modest, little-to-no environmental cost)
- I do all of our family bike upkeep for modest repairs, and we're a primarily-bike family.  (I enjoy it, I learn new tricks, and it often saves time vs. having to get to the bike shop.  Also cheap.)  Biking hits exercise, I despise driving, it saves money.  We have one car.
- I work pretty hard to identify house-upkeep DIY opportunities, but in balance.  I don't have the gear for carpentry.  I handle the electrical stuff (I know how, it's fun and easy, and electricians are expensive);  I try to learn more of the basic plumbing (I get to learn.  It's a time sink because I'm sitting there with my laptop open to how-to videos.  But I'd SO rather do this than the housekeeping. :).  I had a huge win installing a new dishwasher with my father-in-law -- we got family time, my daughter "helped", it saved a grundle, and I got it installed faster than waiting for a plumber.
- I have an accountant for taxes and an attorney for estate and trust issues, because the cost of #@*ing these up is very high, and I get a lot of good advise out of the relationships.
- I pay a face-punch-worthy amount for daycare -- partly because the place we have (in Pittsburgh, not CA) is amazing, and partly because it's at my work, which means the holidays are synchronized, and we "commute" together, i.e., I get to walk to school with my kid every day, and my wife walks home with her --> more family time.
- My house cost more than I wish it had and is larger than I wish, but there weren't many options available in the neighborhood we targeted based upon both community and walkability to work.  I'm happy with the tradeoff - a bit more mortgage payment in exchange for driving so little that we were able to sell one of our cars and still drive the other only ~2500 miles/year is great.  And short/walking commutes are a huge contributor to happiness and health.  As is knowing your neighbors.

It's also important to take into account that everyone has a different value they attach to money.  I'm not rushing to FIRE -- I'm primarily aiming for the security net in case my job ever becomes not fun or my wife or I is disabled/whatever.  We're currently very conservatively projecting hitting the FI target within 12 years (early 50s) without counting the cost savings from DD growing up.  The effect of paying $160/month for housekeeping is to delay our FI date by two months.  In my calculus, that's a great tradeoff.  Someone who hates their job and wants to retire in 5 years would naturally attach a very different value.

(Note that I would argue it's foolish to say "I don't ever want to retire" and live as if one was going to always keep working -- even though I currently feel this way.  It's hard to predict what the future holds, and a job that's awesome and rewarding today may be burn-out central in 15 years, and I don't think most of us are good at predicting very well what will make our future selves happy.  Keeping options open is a good hedge against this.  But a shorter-term prediction is more likely to hold water.)
« Last Edit: May 17, 2016, 11:31:58 PM by csprof »

Goldielocks

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Face it,  money is made to spend, one way or another.   Most people here choose to save it now to spend it later (FIRE, kids tuition, pay off a nice home).

What gets my butt is when people call paying others an "investment" or they say things like "I hired a cleaner to make my wife happy", as if paying someone to do your own chores is the only solution...or talk about paying others so they can earn more (that is only true for a few people, really).   Essentially they do not own their spendy pants decisions or are deluding themselves, and try to convince others to believe in the fallacious logic.

Those that own it, go for it, and just make sure that you enjoy it.  We live in a very rich culture, and can afford to spend money, and we all do.

ender

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The threshold is "what makes sense."

There are a lot of factors:

  • Opportunity cost (of money)
  • Opportunity cost (of time)
  • Enjoyment factor

If I hate doing something which has a significant opportunity cost for time and minimal or neutral in terms of money, it's a lot easier to do spend money to outsource than a situation where I generally enjoy doing it.

little_brown_dog

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I just payed $5 for someone to grocery shop for me. Our local store just started online ordering. For $5 you put your order in online and then just pull up to the store in the car and they load the groceries in the trunk. No minimum order, and I've only used it for very large 'stock up' type shops. Gotta say though with a 5 month old baby it really tips the scales. sure, I could spend an hour shopping with the baby or I could just leave her asleep in the carseat and have them load everything in the back. sleeping baby is worth $5!

This.is.amazing.

No fumbling with the stroller. No awkward parking lot gymnastics as you try to get baby into the baby carrier or wrap. No worrying about whether or not baby is going to lose it halfway through your trip, requiring you to leave your half full cart behind. This may be one of the best $5 inventions ever.

Scandium

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Another great reason to insource is self improvement.  Gain a skill, gain confidence in your problem solving abilities.  Do this often and your new skills begin to interlock and you're more capable in many ways. 

Finally, doing your own work makes you appreciate the time, effort, and skill necessary for good results.  It cures you of Tiny Detail Exaggeration Syndrome and helps you evaluate what actually matters.. effort expended is usually better measured than the all-to-easy action of pulling out the wallet.

I do both the $/hr calculation and apply the above. Especially for home improvement projects it lets me learn a new skill. We're putting in new floors in the basement. It would probably be a few bucks per hour to have it done, but it's also a low-risk project for me to learn something.

The other thing I've learned by outsourcing these things in the past is that contractors don't do as meticulous a job as I would have done (disclosure; engineer). And although technically acceptable, it's rarely done with much care or thought. I spent days researching and thinking about how to best to fix up and reattach a busted banister/stair-rail. A contractor would have just screwed it into the floor and wall as quick as possible. Our other floor installers were fast, but I found several trouble areas. As usual: if you want something done right do it yourself!!

For other things it's all about $/hr. We've started paying $5/week to pick up groceries prepackaged from the store. Saving us an hour or more per week. We've tested it and will probably subscribe bringing, the cost to <$2 each time. Worth it.

It takes me <1 hr to mow the lawn every 2 weeks. Lawn service would be, what? $50/month?? I.e. $25/hr. Nope! (I've never looked into it so don't know the price)

House cleaners are $100-150/month? We spend maybe 5 hrs on that per month, so ~$30/hr. Way too much so I've resisted. Although my wife is semi-interested. I hold it off by enthusiastically cleaning..

protostache

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We've hired out all of the work on our house and don't regret it one bit. We have neither the tools, the time, nor the patience to deal with any of it, so we hire it out. There's actually someone here right now working on a large drywall repair due to a situation involving the previous owners' seven cats.

DeltaBond

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OP, you have excellent points and I'm glad you posted all this.  I do see a lot of people here who seem to be under the impression that unless you go cheap on every single thing, then you're an idiot.  Sorry, I'm not trading in my car for a bike, not trading in our pick up truck just to pay other people to haul everything for us (We're DIY folks), not gonna pay people to clean my house, not gonna spend a lot of money on fancy ingredients in order to avoid "expensive" restaurants, not gonna get rid of my animals to avoid vet bills, not gonna take the bus and spend half my day in transit.

Frugality for each person is as unique as our fingerprints.  Save where you can, but don't judge others for where they chose to save and not to save.  Just watching your budget is pretty good, more than most people bother to do.  I live in a suburb of Nashville TN where almost all the people here are overextended.  Nice restaurants can't even survive in this area, and I have lots of motivation to just not be like "them".  But most of the solutions on here are just not for me, and although I don't want to retire early, I will be saving what I can and not just wiping my butt with my money.

nobody123

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For things like home repairs, if it's something I might have to do at least semi-regularly, I have a $500 threshold.  If I can DIY for less than that (and it doesn't involve climbing on the roof or opening the electrical panel), I will watch some Youtube give it a shot.  Worst case, I screw it up and have to hire a pro, but at least I learned that I should never try it again.  If it's over $500 or a once-a-decade thing, I just hire the pro to do it right and save the frustration.

For convenience things like paying someone to mow, getting takeout instead of cooking, etc., to each their own.  Whether it is worth it might vary on a minute-by-minute basis depending on all of the other variables in their life.  You can only make the best decision at the time based on the information you have, and it's all a judgement call.



Stachetastic

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My husband has always been a big DIY'er, and I'm not afraid of a project or two. However, having young kids is (for us) a game changer. There just aren't enough hours in the day to spend on everything that needs done, work full time, and keep everyone clothed and fed. So we have started to hire more large projects out--flooring, drywall repair, etc. Especially on the rentals, since those are more time sensitive and cannot be done with the kids in tow.

However, we still maintain our own lawn, clean, paint, and complete minor repairs ourselves. We've struggled with finding a good balance for our household, but have learned to ditch the guilt and do what it takes to get shit done.

andy85

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an article i can completely relate too...and kind of relate-able to this topic.
http://affordanything.com/2016/01/26/feeling-overwhelmed-heres-why-simplifying-is-the-smarter-choice/

frugaldrummer

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I use the Your Money or Your Life philosophy - is the amount paid worth the life's energy it would "cost" me to do it myself?

I'm self-employed so some things also are a trade off - I could work an hour more a week and make X dollars, is it worth an hour of extra work for me to pay someone X-taxes dollars to fix something?

Some things are definitely worth the money to me - a twice monthly visit by the housecleaner, for instance.  It's time consuming, a job I dislike, and I'm more than happy to put in a little extra time at work in order to save myself several hours of cleaning. 

Other things I'm more than happy to do myself - I actually like home remodeling projects, and although I haven't done much on my current home, I generally enjoy them. (Boyfriend and I did recently replace the mailboxes and post for us and 2 neighbors - looks great! - and I will probably be helping him this weekend finish fixing a fence that had some rotted posts. I've also done some great tile work in previous houses and made some good sweat equity on previous homes.  I like the pleasure of satisfaction of seeing something well-done and the savings are usually significant enough to make it worth my time, plus I enjoy this type of work.)

In my younger years when I had little money and more time, I sewed a lot of my clothes, which I enjoyed.  Now however my time is too precious and clothes are too cheap to make this a priority.

So I guess the questions are:
 - do you have time for it?
 - could you make or save more money doing something else?
 - do you enjoy doing it?

The Happy Philosopher

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    • thehappyphilosopher


Frugality for each person is as unique as our fingerprints.

That's a great quote.

One thing people don't factor in is enjoyment/happiness.

Sometimes saving $25/hr is not worth it due to the misery it creates. The pro move though is to learn to do difficult and miserable things without feeling miserable though. This is a sort of mindfulness that takes development. It is very personal though and everyone will have different answers. I feel it is actually a much more complex and nuanced computation. It's not simply time=money and above a certain threshold we pull the trigger.

Humans are irrational :)

Cassie

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When I was working f.t. it was worth  it to me to pay cleaners $75.00 once a month. Now that I am semi-retired it is not and I need the exercise.  I think you should outsource the things that make you  happy as long as you can afford it.  My DH is really handy so does most of the work around the house now because he has the time. Before he didn't.  It really depends on your situation. 

Cyaphas

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Personally, I am a lot more critiquing of my own work. I also know every flaw it has on completion when I'm the one who did it. Sometimes it bothers me a lot mroe than it should. It's nice on larger projects to hire it out. I don't know every flaw and I see the job when it's finished. Granted I just took on a huge project for myself, pouring, framing, siding and roofing a 12*20 shed with a 12*12 patio attached, I'm not sure how much I'm going to wind up farming out.

I imagine I'm not the only one who is more hyper critical of themselves than others. It sucks walking by a wall every time and knowing where the ding is in the mud.