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Paying Others to Work for You, Part 2

Valuing the Activity

So, in the previous essay, you figured out how much your free time is worth and could compare it to the cost of whether or not to pay someone to work for you or not. However, now come the next parts of the equation, how much do you like the activity and how good are you at the activity?

First of all, just to be clear, the activity has to be something that someone else can do for you. As much as you hate to shower or eat your vegetables, giving Joe next-door $5 to do them for you will not help you at all.

Is it worth it to pay for parking?

Is it worth it to pay for parking?

After the last essay, let’s say that I value my time at $20 an hour. However, if I enjoy doing an activity that didn’t take into account if I got any enjoyment from doing it.

Let’s look at oil changes again. I may love to play with oil, and not just the flavored body kinds. To figure out how much you like it, figure out how much you would take an hour for doing it. I might love it so much I’ll do it for you for minimum wage, or $7.25 an hour. On the other hand, I may think that even touching fossil fuel products makes me a destroyer of the environment and you’d have to pay me $500 an hour to do it. Or maybe, I’m ambivalent, and think that an hour of changing oil is just like any hour and put it at my $20 an hour original value.

Because you like, don’t like or don’t care, you now have a better number to use to compare to the cost of the service. However, there is still another thing to consider – how good we are at the job. If I like to change oil, but I somehow manage to spill the oil from my car all over an endangered California condor because I’m that clumsy, then the cost of doing it just went up. (Assuming I’m caught and appropriately fined.) Or, I’m actually so good I can do it in 45 minutes (or less time than it takes to go to the EZ Lube place), then the cost of doing it myself goes down.

So, for changing my oil, let’s put it all together. Last time, I figured since it takes me three hours to change my oil and I save about $9 for an extra two hours of time, the cost is about $4.50 an hour. If I like to change oil, and I can do it in an hour, now we are looking at comparing $9 (pure savings since it doesn’t take any more time) of savings to minimum wage for an hour ($7.25) and I would do it myself. If I like to do it and I am so bad that it takes me four and a half hours to do it, I would compare $2 to $7.25 and see that it is better to pay someone else to do the job. If I don’t care or hate to do it, it should be pretty obvious that I’d have someone else do it. Let’s look at some other activities.

Other Activities

Note: I’m going to write about a “decision value” which is the cost per hour of the service that I found. If the value of your time is above the “decision value,” then you would want to consider paying someone else to do it for you. Below, and it makes better financial sense to do it yourself. So, let’s look at some activities and see how much they are worth to you.

Shopping. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t like to shop. I can understand though if you do, because researching, finding and buying the newest styles could be a fun hobby. For personal shopping, I found a price of 10% of what is purchased. If you want to get $1,000 in clothes, you’ll be paying $100. If shopping takes you four hours, you’re looking at a decision value of $25 per hour.

How much is it worth?

How much is it worth?

Laundry. This adds in another variable. I don’t like to do my laundry, but the great thing about it is that you can put it in and do other things (like write essays, read a book or watch a few episodes of “Louie”) while you wait for your laundry to be done. For 40 pounds of laundry delivered, I found it for $64. If you can’t get other stuff done during your laundry time, if that 40 pounds is two loads that need to be dried, that’s about three hours of time. The decision value is about $21 and hour. If you can have some fun and do other things, then the decision value drops.

Haircut. Trust me, you can’t give yourself a good haircut. Pay for it.

Cleaning your Apartment/House. Does anyone really like to clean? This definitely comes down to enjoyment and skill. Housecleaning services seem to have a decision value of about $30 an hour (depending on size of your place and what you want to have done it could be higher or lower). If my value of my time is $20, then I should do it myself. However, since I hate to clean, I would want to be paid much more for an hour of doing it, so for me, it would make sense to get an apartment cleaner. (Since I hate it, I would probably do a worse job than a person being paid to do it, which is another reason to pay for it to be done).

Parking. This is all about time. How long would it take you to repeatedly circle the block looking for a parking place? If you get to where you want to go an hour early, you probably don’t mind circling a few times. If you get there five minutes beforehand, the $8 parking fee doesn’t seem so bad. For 30 minutes of circling, the $8 parking fee has a decision value of $16 an hour.

So, as you can see, there are a lot of things that you can pay others to do for you. (Many more than on this list and some like growing your own food or making your own car that are probably a lot less realistic for you to do yourself.) Now that you’ve figured the value of your time, how much you like the activity, how well you do it and approximately the cost of having someone do it for you, the decision should be easy.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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