We all outsource certain tasks in our lives, even the most handy do-it-yourselfers. Things that I would definitely want to outsource include surgery, drafting up an important legal document, insuring a house, the production of my ice cream, etc. When I was a teenager, maybe in high school, I remember being taught that you should outsource things that would cost less per hour than you make. At first, that seemed to make sense to me.
In my mind there are three main reasons to outsource a task. One, because it is a specialty that requires years of training, and would potentially be illegal to perform unlicensed. Things that would fall in this category would be surgery, legal proceedings, dental procedures, etc.
Second, would be a task that would take a person way too long to perform themselves. There have been some articles floating around about how long it would take one person to build a pencil from scratch. It would basically take like a decade. Or you could just buy a pencil for 10 cents. How about building a house? Some people do it alone, but they are mostly on those Alaska wilderness shows.
Third, you can actually earn an income or do something that brings you more joy (at not too great a cost) than that activity. Say you’re a nurse that makes $40 an hour. You can pick up an extra shift here or there when needed to increase your income. Paying someone to clean your house or mow your lawn might make sense if you don’t enjoy those activities and would rather be working.
Another example is a unionized teacher making $50,000 a year and receives pay increases each year that mirror cost of living increases no matter their performance or how many hours they work. This person gets paid $50,000 no matter what. Would it make sense for them to outsource their cooking, cleaning, yard maintenance, etc.? Not if they want to retire before their 70’s. Unless the teacher despises the task, or is physically unable to perform it, it probably doesn’t make sense to outsource the tasks they have the ability to perform. But what if that teacher tutors in their time outside of their teaching job? They earn $30 an hour tutoring and love it. It brings them joy, and they feel fulfilled when the people they are tutoring ace a test or pass a class they were previously flunking. Then sure, things like taking your car to the Jiffy Lube for an oil change or paying the neighbor to mow your lawn might actually be good ideas if they chose to tutor during those times instead.
If expenses are tight for you, or you have a money goal, but you make more money than the cleaning person you want hire, that doesn’t give you a free pass to outsource your house cleaning. If the time you save would be spent crushing some Netflix, it might not be the best use of your money. If you’re earning a masters degree that will significantly increase your income in two years, and you want to free up some studying time by outsourcing certain things over the next 24 months, well then that sounds like a wise financial decision.
Don’t blindly look at the numbers when considering what to outsource. Think about what you would do with that time you would be freeing up. If you will just “waste” it, however you want to define that, then maybe you should think twice about outsourcing a task. In the end, a little elbow grease never hurt anyone. I’ve also been told it may build some character.