January 9, 2011

Tip of the day—Stop paying for services you don’t need

Years ago, my husband and I would occasionally pay other people to do things that we now do for ourselves.  A few services hired out here and there adds up over the course of the year, and when we made the decision for me to be at home with our daughter when she was born, we knew we had to cut back.  Whenever we are deciding about whether or not to hire out a job around the house we consider a few things--

  • Is the job so technically complicated that we need to hire someone else to do it?  When we were refinishing our basement, we knew that we wanted to rework the existing plan of the bathroom.  Hubby is great at some general plumbing and electrical work, but he decided that it would be better to hire out an expert. 
  • How long will it take?  When helping my dad renovate his place, we became very good at answering this question.  Painting doesn’t take much time at all.  Tile work only takes a few days.  Those smaller jobs were worth the time that we took to do it ourselves.  Tearing out a window and replacing it with a sliding door, however, was a little more extensive.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to help much and given my dad’s physical constraints and Hubby’s work schedule it would have taken us too long to do this job ourselves.  The guy he hired to do it had it completed in a day’s time.
  • What is the price difference for DIY vs hiring out the work?  Sometimes this is the only question you need to ask.  When we repainted the outside of our home soon after our daughter was born, we looked at the price of hiring a crew vs doing it ourselves.  I estimate that we saved around $2000.  I was sick and tired of scraping by the time we were done, but I look at the house now and am pretty proud of us.
  • What is your hourly wage?  If you are taking away time from work to perform a job or service around the house, weigh the cost of what you would make at your work vs how much it would cost for you to hire someone else to do the job. 
  • Do you need a special certification?  Some jobs in some areas require that you have a certification of a professional (some electrical work, for instance).
  • Is it fun for you?  Hubby and I really enjoy working alongside one another on projects.  We even volunteered to tile the floor at my cousin’s house when she and her husband renovated.  If a job isn’t fun for you, though, you might want to see how doable it would be to either barter services or hire them out.  An example from recent past was when I bartered with a friend for her to hem that had fallen in a skirt of mine.  I don’t like to hem, and it took her only a few minutes to fix it.  I gave her something like venison or jam in return and much appreciation for helping me out.  Also keep in mind that many people still need work.  If you can help someone in your community by providing them work and can afford to do so, now might be a good time to hire out work. 

Some example of services we no longer pay for:

  • Cleaning the cars.  Hubby and daughter work together on this job.  She is so funny about my car.  I won’t notice how cluttered or dirty it is, and she’ll say, “Daddy and I are going to have to get cleaning again!” 
  • Cleaning the house.  When I was working full time, I would indulge one time a year in having Merry Maids come over to the house.  They would do all of the little jobs that I didn’t always get around to doing, and the house would feel so clean and fresh.  While it would be dreamy to have someone else come over and clean, right now we do it ourselves.
  • Pest control.  Many years ago, we hired pest control services.  As I became more aware of the harmful effects of pesticides, I knew I didn’t want those around our daughter.   When we stopped having the house sprayed, we noticed something wonderful.  We didn’t have as many problems because the “good” bugs weren’t killed off.  They were still alive and were eating the “bad” bugs and pests.  We use diatomaceous earth, slug traps, companion planting, and an eco-friendly mosquito killer that is made from lemongrass.

1 comment:

  1. On the pest control, it was great to see the praying mantis and stick bugs come back. These are fun to watch