Friday, March 11, 2011

Outsourcing

Last week was a busy week for us.  We were very productive -- replumbing a sink, mowing the lawn and doing spring yard cleanup and remulching, completely cleaning the house, cleaning the pool.

I suppose if you are paying someone to do it, that counts as doing it, right?

Yes, Terry and I are finally among the outsourcers of the world.  For someone in his income category, I would say that we are in the minority here.  In fact, most people I know who make less than he does employs at least one of the above workers, but it's taken us some gradual turns to get here.

We've never had any problem with the "one-off" contracting.  Terry is a little bit cheap frugal, but he also knows that he can often pay someone a little bit of money to do something a lot quicker and better than he could.  For example, when we bought blinds after moving into new bare-windowed homes, he cheerfully plunked down the extra $15 per set and was happy to know that in an hour or so, the umpteen windows had blinds that were straight and secure and would keep out the sun and the eyes of our neighbors.

Yard care was the first place we caved.  Back in 1995 when we bought our first house, we did everything ourselves, because we had more time on our hands than money.  In fact, the backyard in our new-construction home wasn't landscaped or even carpeted with grass, so my dear old dad helped Terry and me sod the backyard.  I still remember hauling those heavy squares of St. Augustine's grass squares in the wheelbarrow.

In Connecticut we helped the local economy by paying the high school boy next door to mow, and Terry really learned to appreciate that.  In fact, when he went away to college, we wondered what we'd do.  Fortunately, in Connecticut you really only mow from May - September, and the neighbor came home from college ready and willing to make some pocket cash.

But living here in Houston (Bizarro** paycheck world as Terry is calling it), it just seems to make sense to us.  We never felt like we got pool maintenance down when we had a pool here before, so Terry was definitely interested in that.  He called around and found one guy whose price was right, so that was the first.  The yard contract was the second (and again, the price is right. We are paying the skilled professional lawn service company the same price that we paid the high schooler).

I had housecleaners come the last two times we sold our house to do that deep down cleaning before we put it on the market, and boy did it sparkle!  When I was working a bit more last year (thus earning more "fun money"), I considered using some of it to pay for a housecleaner, but I could just never do it.  While I will readily admit that I don't love cleaning house, I don't mind the time it takes to vacuum and dust and even to clean the bathrooms (which Terry cheerfully helps with on the weekends), but in the end, I realize that they do it better than I do -- much, much better.

The housekeepers were supposed to come last Friday, and of course I straightened up for them.  When they had to postpone due to the flu (it's everywhere!), I decided to just put it off a week, and then Spring Break wouldn't hinder the every-other-week schedule.

I had begun to second guess my decision.  The house looked pretty darn good with my little efforts to clean up.  I did a quick vacuum and sweep, cleaned the powder room, and I was all set. 

But they did come today, and my gut was correct.  It's SO clean when it's tackled by the professionals.  Spotless, even.  Sparkling.  And it smells so good.

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** Seinfeld Superman reference anyone?  It's Bizarro world because everything costs much much less, and with Terry's new job he's actually gotten a raise, not to mention reduced taxes coming out and a much lower transportation commuting cost.  So the combination of a bigger net has finally pushed us over the brink, although as you can see by this long explanation, I am still a little conflicted about it.

Terry is too.  He said, "We could either spend this extra money on things like this that would make our lives easier, or find something else more useful to do with it.  I honestly think that it's okay.

So what about you?  Are there items that you cheerfully outsource?  If so, why?  Is it a skill issue, or time, or a loathing of a specific task?

3 comments:

Martha said...

People have been bugging me to get a house cleaner since I went back to work but I just can't justify it. So I clean house and do the yard myself, no pool so that is not an issue. I feel too strapped for money anyway to pay someone for that. I'd rather save for a vacation!

Carrie said...

Mostly we're for ease. =) Now, the yard we've tried to manage ourselves. However, when we want to plant say, oh, a dozen trees, we don't mind paying someone to come and dig the holes and put them in the ground. (There's only so much we actually LIKE to do.) But, as you say, the break in the rainy season here is short enough that it's not overwhelming. If we had to do the yard year round, we'd probably outsource!

House repairs of ANY sort? Outsource! Other people are trained to do it better and it saves time. With the little kids and J having to work, what time he has at home is valuable and anytime we can have to relax is a good thing!

When we find a good worker or a good deal, we'll always definitely considering hiring the job out.

And I have to say I have given though to a house cleaning crew to come in once before the baby is born. Mostly because the logs in our house have to be dusted and I'm NOT climbing ladders to do it. But it really needs doing. We try but it's a boring, un-fun job that I'd gladly pay someone else to do!

Teresa said...

I loathe cleaning my house with an unmitigated passion. Mainly because as soon as I would get it clean, the kids would mess it right up again.

About 20 years ago I hired my first maid service. Lovely ladies. They cleaned my house until I moved out East. It took me a couple of months once here, but I soon hired a new maid service - yet more lovely ladies who come every other week.

It forces me to get my house straightened up and sort the mail and put away papers that otherwise would accumulate to a huge unmanageable pile.

At this new house we have yard service since my husband does not have the time to deal with the acre+ of mowing. I also hired "the Garden Girls" last year to finally clean the enormous number of garden beds that came with this house (no time to keep up with it).

My husband used to do all the work on our cars years ago but that has also been outsourced.

As long as I have the cash - I love keeping it in circulation and getting these jobs done so I have my own free time! Now if only I could figure out how to get someone to cook and do my laundry I'd be completely happy. LOL.