4 Things to Consider Before Hiring Household Help

By Chris Birk on 21 October 2011 (Updated 20 August 2013) 5 comments
Photo: h3nr0

Hiring someone to walk our dogs felt a little weird.

But our hectic schedules and dwindling free time made it a health necessity for our Australian shepherds. We were lucky enough to find a great guy on the next block via our neighborhood Facebook group. The dogs get exercise. Tommy the Dog Walker gets paid. Our guilt gets assuaged.

All in all, it's proved a great investment.

We're not quite ready to solicit a cleaning crew, but there's something to be said for the efficiency and financial efficacy of hiring help when the math makes sense. Hiring someone to clean your house, mow your lawn, or watch your kids can help you maximize your time and balance needs and budgetary concerns. (See also: The 6 Best Lawn Mowers)

For some consumers, considering the opportunity costs can make the concept of hiring help not just palatable, but a sound investment. Even if you’re off the clock, your time certainly has value. (See also: That Age-Old Conundrum: Time vs. Money)

Here are four things to consider when it comes to outsourcing your more domestic demands.

1. Figure Out What Your Time's Worth

This isn’t just a question for entrepreneurs and others who could be making money, crafting a business plan, or otherwise turning their time into future returns instead of scrubbing dishes. What is an hour of your time worth when you’re at home? If you can find someone to work for less than your self-styled rate, outsourcing some of your chores might be a sound investment, even if the return is simply quiet time for family, relaxation, and recharging.

Consider whether your time could be better spent making money, improving your work-life balance, or otherwise tilting the scale.

2. Budget and Prioritize

Obviously, affordability has to be a consideration, too. Subsisting on tomato soup in order to retain your housecleaner probably isn’t the savviest investment, for your wallet or your mental and physical well being. But if the idea of hiring help sounds appealing, consider going over your current expenditures with an eagle eye. Look for needless expenses and ways to curb frivolities.

You can also consider honing in on the most-hated chore. Maybe it’s cleaning the bathroom, walking the dogs, or maintaining the lawn. Depending on where you live and the size of your home, none of these services may break the bank each week, especially if you’re using only one.

3. Forget the Stigma

Deciding to spend money on domestic help or a personal assistant might inspire blank stares or derision from colleagues and even family and friends. There’s no reason to feel guilty, even when someone offers a tactless response along the lines of “Must be nice.” That said, start bragging about your new laundry-folding assistant, and you get what you deserve.

I don’t think hiring a dog walker signifies we’re living on Easy Street, but you can never really gauge reactions.

4. Find Legit Help

Utilize reputable sites and resources or rely on word-of-mouth when it comes to hiring help. Ask for references and, when applicable, insurance and surety bond information to ensure you’re protected against damages or loss. There can also be tax considerations depending on how much you’re paying an individual each year, so check with the IRS or a tax professional. Be sure to set duties and expectations at the outset and evaluate results on a regular basis.

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Guest's picture

If you really do not have time, it makes sense to pay someone else to do your chores. This really means you do not have time. But I see too many people still paying someone else to do their job even though they have time. They get in this habit of being lazy. People need to learn the ultimate smart way to spend their money. I feel like I am wasting my money if I hire people to do my chores. Become the ultimate smart spender!

Guest's picture
Bobbyblue

I agree with this, plus - chores are a great form of exercise in my opinion and we're already a passive lazy society as it is. Mowing the lawn and shoveling are great exercise and they're not excruciating (exceptions of course for people with disabilities/injuries).

Save the hundred or more dollars a month, and give your body some physical activity. I actually find mowing the lawn therapeutic. Not quite there with shoveling, but we'll see!

Guest's picture

I've been thinking about getting a maid lately so these were some great subjects to think about before I do so. Thanks for the advice.

Guest's picture
Andrew

Living within your means is the key. I like how you emphasize this, and as long as you are focusing on being financially responsible, forget the stigma.

Guest's picture
Guest

For me the first one is the most important... When I was young my mom always had someone to help her at home and she always explained this way: If I come home tired from working all day and instead of having time to spend with my family I have to spend all my waking hours doing home chores, I'm going to be miserable and everybody is going to be miserable at home, so it is better spend the money on household help and live happily (she always thought it was worth every penny) :)