How much would housekeeping set back your financial plan?

I’ve been thinking about housekeeping services for a while, and have dismissed it every time the discussion has arisen.  But those mailers in the junk mail piles are enticing.

Free estimates!

$50 off first cleaning after you sign up for a subscription!

Obviously having too much house to maintain is a problem that I solely created for myself.  It’s a vicious problem that most Americans have. Land is cheap. Homes are cheap. Utilities are cheap.  Loans are cheap.  This is the perfect formula to become enslaved to your lifestyle.

The problem with home maintenance can be divided into two zones: outdoor and indoor maintenance. Both of these can be incredibly time consuming, expensive, and exasperating.

Outdoor maintenance.

Subdivisions can be great. They are often somewhat planned communities with shared amenities.  Some neighborhoods have shared swimming pools or organized neighborhood events.  We pay into these associations depending on what amenities are provided.  However, these associations also impose restrictions to each household in order to ensure that its neighborhood is presentable.  This can often mean that your house has to be painted a certain approved color. Your lawn has to be groomed and watered, even if your water bill has to take a hit.  It means that you have to eradicate lawn pests, weeds, and any other element that would otherwise thrive under no supervision.

That’s right. We pay extra to have more land, and more to maintain it. That is the American way.

Indoor maintenance.

The same principles apply indoors.  The more space you have in your house, the more space you have to fill your house with “things”. Do you actually need these “things”? Probably not, but who wants to have an empty house? These “things” in the house get misplaced, disorganized, and dusty too.  I keep my windows open often to circulate the outside air in the house.  This brings in a lot of dust, insects, and various pollen in the house as well. What a mess!

How do I deal with this?

Currently everyone in the family pitches in to organize and clean. Pulling weeds, Mowing the lawn.  Cleaning the bathrooms.  Dusting the windowsills.  I’m suspecting that when all is done and over, I’ll probably have spent a shocking number of months of my life organizing.  Yikes!

Despite the number of hours I spend on cleaning and home maintenance, my home still isn’t spotless by any standard.  I just don’t have time to do all of this.

Will hired housekeeping help lengthen my working career?

Most likely.  I asked around several services, and got baseline yearly quotes on common tasks that I currently complete myself:

Damn housekeeping! No one really likes to clean either.

So I’d probably spend an extra $10k annually on doing most of the things that I am currently doing myself.  Over a decade, I will have saved about $100k, and have it grow through investments.  This isn’t exactly pocket change.

The biggest question that I have yet to quantify is whether the lost hours I spend cleaning the house could be better spent generating income.  Sure, I’d have a higher tax burden, but in theory I should have a much higher hourly earning wage than what hired help should charge even after taxes.  I am still not sure, since most of my maintenance tasks occur on my days off, so it would be challenging for me to be able to bring in extra income without taking on more work.

What do you guys think of doing your own chores?

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  • PICU MD

    You can extrapolate further from there and go to all the things you could do yourself. Cleaning your gutters. Painting a room. Etc etc etc.

    The one thing you can’t get back is time. Spending the money on housekeeping, yardwork, etc, etc frees up time to the things you love. Also, I find that when I hire someone to do something they’ll do a better job than I would and do it in less time.

    You also have to look at what you like doing. I’m an audiophile so when I put a home theater in my basement I did it myself and didn’t hire anyone to run the wires or set it all up.

    Obviously this has to be taken within the context of your budget. If spending 10k a year on maid service will set you back financially then don’t do it.

    • Smart Money MD

      Yup. I had been getting quotes from people to clean up my yard, and they all seem to have gouging prices. I wonder if it’s because they see that I have a largish yard and probably can afford to “pay more” for their services.

      Hiring out is not without headaches. I’ve found that many time these people show up either late or not at all. Makes for more frustrating experiences. I will probably end up hiring out some cleaning crew at some point.