In a sentence: when the benefit is higher than the cost.
Duh, right? It seems like you can assess this easily. You buy your own groceries because to send someone to do it would cost the price of your groceries and a fee. You make coffee at home because it’s cheaper than a latte a day (or a decaf hazelnut americano in my case). But what about when it isn’t so clear cut?
A few months ago my boyfriend and I went to a counseling session together. We’ve been doing this on and off for the last two years for when arguments get too big for us to ref ourselves. This session, however, was strictly for a brief check-in…or so we thought.
Andy was on the verge of no longer working 80 hours a week and we were both excited at the prospect of all his newfound free time. We gave our counselor, Katie, a little background on what was happening and how we thought it was going to affect our dynamic. I said something along the lines of “And he’ll be able to help more around the house” and tried to move on to another subject. But Katie, she is a tricky one, says, “Hold on, I can see Verhanika has quite a bit of emotion about this.” And the floodgates were opened. I unleashed my fury about how much I hate, HATE that I get stuck doing all the chores because he works his normal house job AND has the be the goddamn president of the most selfish group of human beings I know. Or so they felt sometimes.
I work, too, right? My job can also be 80 hours a week if I’m in tech and I’m in school and I’m running a small business and somehow I have to run our household, too?
I started crying, as I’m really good at doing just when I want to be strongest, and I yelled a little and cursed his inability to be anything less than a stereotype. He apologized and promised we’d make a plan for how to address the chores. Which we did and it’s lovely (he’s vacuuming as I write this).
But we do recognize that there are particular times that even though we have a fabulous new plan that works fabulously, save for the errant basket of laundry that takes a week to get folded, we need some help. And that’s why we’ve hired a cleaning service to come in a clean our apartment for when we are both in tech next month. Rather than set ourselves up for failure and an argument, we did some research and found a green cleaning company that will come in and deep clean our apartment. So instead of doing the vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom and mopping and whatever else has to get done, we can sleep in and just worry about grocery shopping and maybe a movie that day.
It sounds like it’s so easy, but it’s not. The title of this post tells you where this is going. The price tag of all this luxury during our joint tech? $140. Which is not an easy number to choke down when I can clean my house for free.
So we did a little cost/benefit analysis and decided that our sanity for that week of madness and the ability to spend our day off OFF was worth the $140. Especially since it saves us from having to clean baseboards and deep clean the bathroom and other weird cleaning stuff we never think to do but obviously need to get done.
And you can do this in a very official way. Take your hourly rate, multiply it by how many hours you’d spend doing this activity and if you can get that activity taken care of for you for around that amount, do it. There are even more complicated ways to do this by multiplying that figure by an “expertise factor” so you’re not trying to compare house cleaning to replacing your transmission.
Though for some of my friends the transmission is definitely easier than the cleaning.
Check out websites like diyornot.com to see if your home improvement project is worth it to, um, DIY or not.
And if you have any specifics, post them in the comments or send an email and I’ll help you figure out if it’s worth it to hire out!