What is worth doing yourself vs paying someone els...

What is worth doing yourself vs paying someone else?

What is worth doing yourself vs having someone else do? And how are little triangles of laundry relevant? The OMD community discusses if they pay money to someone else to take care of their children, clean their house, and more!

There’s no video version of this episode, but we do have a recording of the first-ever OMD livestream, including a vegan donut review. Talking Dough and Eating Donuts!

We’ll continue this discussion on the Oh My Dollar forums,  a friendly, nonjudgemental online community about money – come join us, we’re nice! This month we’re doing Snackuary, a food budget challenge, plus kicking off the 20 in 2020 challenges.

Email us any financial worries, successes, or health care questions  at or tweet us at @anomalily or @ohmydollar.

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Episodes Transcript (provided by our Patrons)

[00:00:39] Welcome to Oh My Dollar!, a personal finance show with a dash of glitter, dealing with money can be scary and stressful. Here we give practical, friendly advice about money that helps you tackle the financial overwhelm. I’m your host, Lillian Karabaic. But first, listeners like you make the show possible and keep our lights on. You can join up with other Oh My Dollar! community members to support episode transcripts, server costs and more by making a pledge of $1 or more per month. And awesome news! Through January 15th, we have a matching challenge that means if you pledge $2 per month, it becomes $4 per month.

[00:01:13] Might sound like a little, but it really does add up. We’re almost to one hundred patrons. Patrons get cool perks like cat stickers and a special badge in our forums. This episode was underwritten by the Tamsen G Association, Warrior Queen and Chris Giddings.

[00:01:28] Welcome to our newest patrons that join during the membership drive. Rosemary, Chelsea, Denise, AnnaLeise, Bethany, Sarah, Kenna, Catherine, Kerry and our other Sarah!

[00:01:38] To learn more, you can visit

[00:01:41] How do you decide what you do yourself and what have other people do? Many frugal folks or folks that are trying to get their finances together start trying to insource as much as possible their food, tax preparation, haircuts, housekeeping, vehicle maintenance, et cetera.

[00:02:01] But there’s often it advantage to having an expert do something for you. I asked the oh my dollar community what they found worth outsourcing, versus what they think isn’t worth they’re doing in their own personal lives.

[00:02:13] There’s a whole nother discussion about this as a small business owner. But for today, we’re focused on those things that you need to keep functioning as a human. For your house, for your life, eating food, taking care of your kids. Those kind of things.

[00:02:29] The big struggle with insourcing versus outsourcing is often a time vs. money conundrum. It’s usually more expensive to outsource, but often that time can or must be spent earning money.

[00:02:41] And for domestic tasks. Sometimes you’ll earn more during that hour of outsourced labor than you would pay someone else to do that task, ostensibly freeing up some money.

[00:02:51] But, sometimes that can just come down to how you want to spend your free time. Qristy says that she has outsourced basically everything at this point. She says a lot of “it takes a lot of energy to maintain a household, and I want to spend that energy on being creative after work.” She lives in an apartment to outsource building and lawn maintenance. She takes transit or Lyft and outsourced outsources driving. And she orders pre-made on-diet meals and get some delivered, she says. Is this more expensive? “Yes, Hella. But right now, I’d much rather spend my money and energy on other things than these unfulfilling tasks. In exchange, I put out three games this year I’m really proud of.”

[00:03:32] Childcare is also one of those things that’s hard to call “outsourcing”, so to speak, because that feels very impersonal when talking about taking care of your own kids. But, if your kids get taken care of by someone that you pay to do so so that you can go to work, that’s technically the definition of outsourcing – and quite often for people with white collar or well-paying blue collar jobs, that’s the tradeoff you’re making.

[00:03:55] The labor of someone else to watch your kids is usually less than you earn at work.

[00:04:01] Oftentimes, certain tasks must be outsourced because your health doesn’t allow you to do them. For example, you have hay fever and you can mow your lawn, but you destroy your sinuses in that process.

[00:04:12] Outsourcing in that case helps keep you safe while also having a mowed lawn.

[00:04:18] Elle on the Oh My Dollar! forums says she outsources driving due to her disability. Or, if you have trouble with your wrists, maybe vacuuming is not how you want to spend your time.

[00:04:30] In my case, while I have the skills and the knowledge to do bike maintenance, my hands are arthritic and it’s much easier and less frustrating to pay someone else to do most bike maintenance tasks.

[00:04:41] Sometimes outsourcing tasks can help you prioritize something you wouldn’t otherwise do at all. In my case, I often let my bike brakes get pretty squishy because I’m like, “Oh, I’m going to do it all. You know, I’ll delay it until I have time to get dirty or I can borrow a stand from my friend or I have time to get my tools out.”.

[00:04:59] But if I go to someone else, as I did this month, it just gets dealt with ASAP. Crow on the forums said that having a house cleaning service was helpful, not because they lacked the time or the skills to clean their house themself, but that without that service, they simply wouldn’t prioritize it.

[00:05:17] They also said “I tend not to see my own clutter, so having the service forces me to put things away once a month” Crow said. “It is worth the cost- Three percent of my annual spend – to me.”

[00:05:31] Sometimes as a matter of skill or equipment, too. Greywald outsources, any home repairs that aren’t fairly obvious how to do it with a quick Internet search. She says otherwise “it usually just ends up getting done six months later and costing more money from unused materials, incorrect materials or more broken things.”

[00:05:49] Yeah, that’s what happens when I try to fix things, too.

[00:05:51] Illthereal on the forums said, I just don’t have the equipment or space to change my own oil or anything more complex than that.

[00:05:58] Many people mentioned that they struggle with feelings of Bougie-ness, too, to say the least, when they’re trying to outsource things. Ramona said, quote, “This was a big deal for me to start doing and I still feel like a bougie

[00:06:12] a little bit.” But I started hiring a house cleaner when I was very busy and the family I babysit for asked me to add a couple hours in the morning, a couple days a week.

[00:06:21] I do not have the bandwidth to clean my house without letting go of something else. I’d make slightly more money babysitting and paying someone to clean my house than by turning the baby sitting down and cleaning myself. So that’s how I justified it. I would much rather watch small children for a few hours than use that time cleaning.”.

[00:06:37] I think this is a really illustrative point, because while Ramona would much rather watch small children than clean their house, I would so much rather clean my house than watch small children.

[00:06:50] And this is where outsourcing versus insourcing. There’s no perfect answer. I know it’s frustrating, because so many things I say in the show end up being, “oh, it depends on how you feel about it.”.

[00:07:02] But this is a very personal decision, how you spend your money on services for other people to do things. And most of these things are personal things – like if you’re willing to live in a dirty house, you don’t need to pay anyone to clean your house and you don’t have to spend time doing it, you know?

[00:07:16] But some of us have different standards for how we live. How our kids are taken care of. Whether or not our lawn is mowed. But there’s also different outside influences, right? Like the lawn mowing is a great example. Maybe you do not care if your lawn is 2 feet long, but the city or your homeowner’s association does.

[00:07:37] And you’re making the choice to put this in your budget and have someone else do it because you hate mowing, but you also want to keep living in your house and you know, you’re going to pay more fees and taxes or homeowners association penalties by not mowing your lawn.

[00:07:55] Then pay a neighborhood kid to mow your lawn every two weeks or something. One of the things I found really interesting was personal care. And it seemed like it largely came down to people’s preferences for their own aesthetics, but also whether or not they enjoyed those tasks.

[00:08:10] So, I’m someone that had punk-rock haircuts that were done- I would say I outsource them, except that I would like pay my friend a beer to spend two hours cutting my hair when they were drunk, which never resulted in super great haircuts.

[00:08:23] And looking back on pictures from my early twenties, I’m like, “how was I allowed to work in a professional environment with this like drunk mohawk that someone gave me in their backyard at 3:00 a.m.?”.

[00:08:35] But a lot of people in-sourced haircare because they couldn’t find someone that would do the work in a way that they actually felt was as good as them, Illthereal said. “I dry trim my own curls. There’s no one reasonable in my area who will cut my own curls when when dry”

[00:08:49] Diapsoun said that they dye their own hair and that “frankly, I do it just about as well as a salon does on this one.”.

[00:08:56] Letired said “in-sourcing haircuts is the big one for me because I kept hating the mid-range haircuts and the pricey ones still made me feel faint. If I get bangs again, I’ll probably have a professional put them in.”.

[00:09:08] Rural, appropriately named on the forums, says that she insources mainly because she’s rurally located it enough, It’s just a fact of life.

[00:09:17] Some things are insourced by necessity, she says. “Like cleaning – have never met a house cleaner with four-wheel-drive and it’s required to get to our house. Most food, there’s no delivery available, whether that be food, Fed-Ex, U.P.S. or even U.S. mail.”.

[00:09:31] TNT said that they outsource somethings simply because that they don’t have anywhere to insource it. They outsource car washes because car washes are prohibited in their apartment complex, and there’s local water restrictions due to drought.

[00:09:47] Food was a big one that people insource because they actually enjoy the process of insourcing. I love cooking. You know, I might be a bit tempted to like. Yes, if I could afford a personal chef, maybe that would be great if I always had perfectly prepared food. But Rdaneell says that she, quote, “loves, loves, loves, insourcing as much food as possible, not just for the money saving, but also the health and quality level, too”.

[00:10:13] She said “Even if I had millions of dollars, I would not out to source food any more than I do now, and I’d still insist on packing breakfast and lunches.”

[00:10:22] That’s one thing that I noticed really came out when people are discussing what they choose to insource first outsource is that – often it came down to quality.

[00:10:30] They felt like they had a better control over the quality and how things are prepared as far as food, how they get their haircut, how their house is cleaned. One of the things for me when it comes to outsourcing something like housecleaner is they might technically do a better job, but I can spend more time on the things that I care about rather than have them go down a checklist like they would as a house cleaner, right?

[00:10:54] You know, I’m fine vacuuming my own floors, but I really want someone to, you know, deep clean my oven, because I don’t want to do that. And often that’s the thing a house cleaner won’t do for you.

[00:11:06] And so, being able to choose where that time is spent ended up being a driving motivation in insourcing versus outsourcing. There were a bunch of examples of things that people in-sourced or outsourced that you might not think about.

[00:11:21] So, you know, there was kind of the obvious ones – hairdressers, grocery delivery, hiring a house cleaner, nannies. But some people had ones that I thought were really fascinating personal assistants or organizers who handled life administration stuff.

[00:11:35] One of the people said that they, you know, worked with their – that both them and their partner worked for the same company. And so a lot of things that were both business and personal kind of bled in together. And they had rental properties. So they actually hired someone to handle just not doing the taxes, but just the getting everything together to handle the kind of administrative that they need to do the filing with the city for their rental properties. The getting everything to their tax preparer.

[00:12:04] There was also car and bike mechanics, but there was things that I hadn’t even thought about because obviously I’m biased in that I don’t have kids, but cloth diaper cleaning services, folks that wanted to have a lower environmental impact by having cloth diapers, but simply did not live a kind of lifestyle where they’re going to be hanging a bunch of cloth diapers on the line in their house, but they can just have someone come to their house and pick them up every week.

[00:12:32] A lot of people, it really seemed like a laundry service was something that only was preferred by people who live in big cities.

[00:12:41] And this is something I’ve noticed, like if you live in New York, it’s common even for like middle class people in New York to have a laundry service where you take it down to the corner to the Chinese launder and you get it back in those adorable little triangles.

[00:12:54] If you’ve lived in New York, you know what I’m talking about. Otherwise, everybody’s like, what is she talking about? Triangles of laundry.

[00:13:01] But that that was something that was very common versus, I think almost no one in the suburbs would consider the idea of having someone do their regular laundry. Right. Because it kind of comes down to a space- Right. You’re insourcing versus outsourcing.

[00:13:16] But in addition, like if you don’t have a washer-dryer in your apartment, it becomes a lot more of a hassle to go to the laundromat, sit there for several hours, you know, work your whole life around it, or, you know, even if you have one in your building, but not in your flat, then it becomes, oh, “I have to I have to negotiate with my neighbors and I have to deal with that one neighbor that, you know, is always pulling out stuff out of the dryer immediately and leaving nasty notes.”.

[00:13:43] And it becomes this, oh,”I can just eliminate this level of stress from my life.” But if you live in the suburbs where having your own washer dryer is quite normal or in a rural area where you need four wheel drive to even get to your house, you probably have your own washer/dryer and the outsourcing doesn’t make nearly as much sense.

[00:14:00] So there is a lot of very interesting kind of tradeoff people were doing, from one or the other kind of insourcing or outsourcing.

[00:14:09] And I’m really curious how things kind of shift overtime for folks. One thing I found interesting is a lot of people mentioned they go through cycles. So some people said, oh, “I only insource when I have a really packed time at work.”

[00:14:23] Someone on the forums who is a tax preparer said, I outsource as much as possible as I can between February and mid April every year because I’m working 80 hour weeks. But the rest of the year I have a pretty light load. And so I insource as much as possible.

[00:14:38] And for them, it’s just the tradeoff of like, OK, this is my busy season.

[00:14:42] Some people said, you know, sometimes I enjoy doing the process of doing my own nails or dyeing my hair. And then other times I’m in a season of life where I just want it done and I want it done well and I’m willing to pay for it.

[00:14:54] I was in the case of like I don’t I, you know, hey, I guess a mid-range person to cut my hair normally. But last year I decided that I wanted to have pink and purple like unicorn hair. And I think I talked about this on a previous episode, but like this was a big expense for me. But I knew there was no way I was possibly going to do it at least the first time myself, because my hair is naturally black, extremely thick, and it took a professional six hours to do it – really concentrating on me and they, you know, didn’t have all my hair fell out of my head. If I had to bleach my black hair to pick up pastel pink, it’s possible I wouldn’t have hair anymore.

[00:15:37] And then I just wasted a bunch of time and money and I have no hair.

[00:15:41] So, one of the big things for me was making sure that I was choosing to outsource when I really did need the expertise of someone else, someone who knows how to handle those chemicals, someone that can go buy volume 40 bleach, because I wasn’t even allowed to go get that volume bleach at the store by myself because I’m not professionally licensed for it.

[00:16:00] But when it comes to redying the pink and purple in my hair, that’s something I’m willing to do at home because it’s frankly a lot cheaper than having a professional do it. And it’s vegetable based dye, anyway. My hair isn’t gonna fall out from, you know, making my hair pink and purple. And if I screw it up, I know there’s always the choice that I can just go to a professional and to have them re-dye my hair black and kind of reset from there.

[00:16:25] So I’m really curious if there’s things that you have in-sourced or outsource that we didn’t mention here. And if you’ve kind of shifted one or the other. And I think a lot of people would be helped.

[00:16:37] If you have any insight on how to get over your inner feelings of bougieness when you outsource things. So something I’ve been making the decision is I’m going to be working a lot of hours coming up in this next season. And I kind of had this moment of like, oh, I could hire a house cleaner.

[00:16:52] But I personally, I just have this mental block where I feel like that’s not a thing I do. That’s something that rich people do, or that someone that is something that people that truly need it, that have a lot of kids do or something like that. And it feels like a ridiculous thing for a single person with no kids to do, because clearly I can clean my house.

[00:17:13] But when I add up all the time, it’s probably much more efficient for me to pay professional to do it and support someone that does that as their work. So tell me how you get over the bougieness. Because I don’t have advice on that.

[00:17:25] Anyway, I would love to hear more about insourcing for versus outsourcing and your philosophies on it. And if you’ve kind of moved away from it, I think I think that wraps our show for today.

[00:17:36] So, e-mail us your financial worries, successes or any of your stories about insourcing or outsourcing at Or you can tweet us at @anomalily or at @ohmydollar. Oh My Dollar! is recorded at the XRAY.FM studios in Portland, Oregon and is syndicated through PRX. Our episode was engineered by Tony Scholl. Our intro music is by Aaron Parecki, and your host and personal finance educator is me, Lillian Karabaic.

[00:18:03] Thanks for listening. Until next time, remember to manage your money so it doesn’t manage you.