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Can You Really Buy Time?

Yes, You Can! Reduce Stress Through Outsourcing

Many families have two working parents these days. This can lead to a serious time-crunch for most people who want both happy families and busy careers. When so many people respond to the question, “How are you?” with “Busy!” – you might think they would be inclined to find a way to buy more time. Yet, outsourcing work related to the home can dredge up a curious cocktail of emotions, leaving many women feeling stuck. For instance, a mother of two toddlers, who, along with her husband, works extremely long hours, responded to my suggestion of hiring a housekeeper with, “Can you imagine what my mother would say?” 

When Guilt is Factored In

This response highlights the tightrope many women who work outside the home walk every day. Women who enjoy their careers or running a business already come up against cultural and societal expectations on what it means to be a woman and a good mother. If you outsource traditionally female work at home, how does that affect your subconscious (or conscious) beliefs around what it means to be
a good woman? 

A lot of women also feel some financial guilt around outsourcing home-related tasks. For example, the fact that you can afford to hire someone to help you with household tasks can make people feel guilty or uncomfortable. This starts to get into what are known as money scripts. Money scripts are the beliefs we hold about money – think money worship, money avoidance, money status, and money vigilance. Money scripts are typically unconscious, rooted in childhood, and we all have hundreds of them. A common script related to well-being is that more money is a cure-all – when the truth is if you are unhappy at your current income level, odds are good you will be unhappy with more money. To overcome these ingrained feelings about money, it’s important to identify them, and to remember that money is a tool. As such, it is neither inherently good nor bad. It just is. 

Outsourcing in Action

Another hurdle for time-challenged couples is that partners who aren’t responsible for doing certain tasks tend to feel less pressure to outsource them, which can lead to conflict. For this reason, outsourcing doesn’t necessarily help women as much as you might expect because often, traditionally male-related work is outsourced first (think yard, home, and pool maintenance). 

The key here is to outsource the things you dislike the most. Hate cleaning toilets? Hire a house cleaner. Can’t stand laundry? Hire it out. Cooking not your thing? You can have chef-prepared meals delivered to your home by local Richmond chefs. 

The list of outsource-able, life-improving tasks is nearly endless. You can have personal trainers come to your home. You can get help with dog walking, home decorating, and gift shopping. You can even hire someone to return gifts after the holidays. You can hire a certified financial planner to help you manage your financial life or a CPA to help you prepare taxes. You can hire someone to wait for the cable guy to show up. 

A quick poll of my friends who work outside the home showed the most popular task they like to outsource is housecleaning. If you aren’t sure where to start, start there. Hire someone to come in and clean the house one or two times a month and see how it feels. 

Is It Really Worth It?

Now, you may be thinking, Outsourcing my life sounds great, but it also sounds expensive. You’re right, there is a cost to outsourcing. However, there is also a value to your time and mental health. For entrepreneurs, the value of your time could be especially significant if you’re building a growing business. 

A 2017 study from the University of British Columbia revealed that when people spend money on freeing their time or on experiences, they are happier compared to when they simply buy more stuff.

To see if you can afford outsourcing, pull up your banking app and look at the last few months of spending. Generally, families can re-allocate a little money from one area of spending (material spending) to another (time-saving spending). Not ready to hire a house cleaner? You might start with the smallest of steps into the world of outsourcing and schedule a grocery pick-up at a local store. 

Also, keep in mind, as long as you don’t enter into any long-term contracts, virtually all of these services can be dropped at any time if you decide it’s not worth it to you. Try a few things and see what brings you and your family the most joy. Give yourself permission to buy more time and see how it feels.

Lauren Zangardi Haynes
Lauren Zangardi Haynes, CIMA, CFP (R) is a fee-only financial planner and founder of Spark Financial Advisors. She has three young children and a rambunctious puppy. Learn more about Lauren’s services at Spark Financial Advisors.
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