There’s never enough time in the day to do everything you need or want to do. With never-ending bills to contend with — taking a long-term sabbatical from your job isn’t an option. But spending quality and leisure time with your family, friends, and yourself is important, too. Nurturing your mental health and relationships depends on being able to prioritize time and money.
When keeping your home, work, and life balance in check, you have choices. Here are five home services that allow you to outsource your chores if you want more time to enjoy life.
1. Grocery Shopping
We all have to eat, and it’s cheaper to eat at home than to order or go out for every meal. How much you spend, depends on where you live. The average family in Dallas spends about $285 a month on groceries. In Seattle, that figure jumps to $500 a month. Surprisingly, more than 50 percent of the items we put in our cart, are impulse buys. Grocery stores do their best to entice you into spending more by strategically placing things you really don’t need next to the things you do.
Grocery delivery services can help you curb the spending urge, by doing the shopping for you and bringing your bags right to the curb. Even better? Most grocers have delivery services now, or you can buy items through companies that handle multiple stores. This is one of those rare occasions where outsourcing chores can save you time and money.
On average, shopping for food and other household products takes about 2 to 3 hours per week, not including the $2 you spend on gas, and the wear and tear on your vehicle. If your local grocery store is more than a couple of miles away, you lose time in transit. Don’t forget about the time you waste in those long check-out lines!
But having your groceries delivered will cost you. Walmart charges $12.95 a month, or $98 a year for the service. A more economical option is free Grocery pickup from supermarkets like Kroger. Giant food charges $7.95 each trip but will drop the fee by a dollar if you spend more than $100. The savings on impulse buys and time can make this service well worth the money.
2. Lawn Care and Outdoor Services
Mowing, weeding, edging, aerating, and fertilizing the lawn in spring and summer means that your weekends days are pretty much shot. If you have large trees on your property, you’ve got to find the time to rake or blow falling leaves in October and November. These projects can take up all your free time — time you need to relax and recharge your batteries to get ready for the workweek.
According to data from LawnStarter, lawn mowing will cost you about $40 per service, and optional additional services will run an extra $100-300 per year on average. Sure, this is a case where outsourcing chores is an addition to your monthly expenses, but the benefits are immeasurable.
3. Laundry and Cleaning
You’ve been cleaning your home and doing laundry for years, and it may seem that four or five hours a week is no big deal. But if you’re on the go all the time or want to spend more time with friends, family, and hobbies, it’s worth it to hire a person or service for these chores. Laundry services will charge you from $0.90 to $3.00 a pound to wash, dry, fold, or hang your clothes and deliver them directly to you.
Cleaning companies can save you time, of course. But the average cost for services is $167, even more, if you have a bigger home, or make bigger messes. Still, hiring professional cleaners reduces your daily stress, especially if work and other obligations take precedence. The regular cost of a cleaning service can add up quickly, so try to budget the cost on an annual basis. Always make sure to do the math before outsourcing chores.
4. Pet Care
You love your pets — they’re part of the family! Cats do OK on their own, but dogs need to go outside to “do their business,” and get some fresh air. When you’re working long hours or must go out of town, the care and safety of your pets is a priority.
If you don’t have a trustworthy neighbor to help look after your furry family members, a pet hotel or doggie daycare solves the problem. That will cost you anywhere from $12 to $38 a day. You also need to factor in the time it takes you to drop off and pick up your pup. You can save money and time by hiring a dog walker to come over once a day. The pricetag? About $20 for a 15 to 20-minute walk.
Pet products are available online now, so you don’t have to go to the store for food, toys, treats, and everything else. Supplies are delivered, usually for free.
5. Home Maintenance
The annual cost of maintaining a home varies based on where you live. But owning a house means there’s always something that needs doing. Cleaning gutters, painting the shutters, changing furnace filters, and home repairs can take up much of your day. Do-it-yourselfers don’t mind these tasks, but pruning trees, cleaning the pool, sealing windows, and basic home maintenance can be too time-consuming. Sometimes the biggest challenge is finding a good handyman! They’re worth the $60 to $65 an hour they charge.
Monthly budgets can be difficult to stick to, but when it comes to outsourcing chores, it’s worth adding them to the expense sheet. Remember, life is short. Spend time with loved ones and leave the dreaded tasks, including bill-paying to the professionals!