When you hear the terms “insourcing” and “outsourcing”, you probably think of businesses and big corporations, but it’s a framework we can also apply to our individual lives and households as well.
Over the past few decades, millions of folks have begun outsourcing more and more tasks in exchange for money. Commonly outsourced tasks include things like cooking, childcare, yard work, general DIY tasks, house cleaning, tax preparation, car washing, moving, drink making, and tons of other small and large tasks.
Some of this outsourcing makes sense given the rise in dual-income families — sometimes you need that extra support and you just don’t have time. But I would also argue that both our wallets and mental health might stand to benefit from insourcing a few more chores and tasks.
What we’re able to insource will look different based on the amount of time we have, our physical ability, and a whole host of other factors. Here are a few examples from my personal life to get your brainstorm started.
To have regular upkeep of the yards on either side of the duplex we own would be around $160 each month.
Instead, I spent around $300 and bought an electric mower and trimmer to do it myself. That means after 2 months, I’ve already paid for the equipment I now own.
The mowing itself takes me about 4 hours in total each month. This means I’m essentially getting paid $40 an hour to do my own yard work because I’m saving $160 in exchange for 4 hours of my time. I don’t even make $40 an hour at my salaried job, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to work more hours at my job to pay someone else to do this.
On top of the financial benefits, it also gets me outside in the fresh air and doing light exercise a few times a month. I might be sweaty when I finish, but I always feel accomplished and less stressed. Honestly, it’s quite therapeutic.
Cooking Our Own Food
Another area of my life where I save money by insourcing is food.
Throughout the month I would say our cost per serving for the food we cook ourselves averages somewhere between $3 and $4. My cheaper meals, like bowls of oatmeal or pasta, are balanced out by other meals with higher quality meat or lots of ingredients.
When we go out to eat or get delivery I would say our cost per serving averages around $15 after tax and tip, and it’s not wildly uncommon for it to cost us much more than this, especially if we get drinks as well.
That’s over a $20 savings for us for each meal we cook ourselves instead of going out.
Cooking takes time and there are dirty dishes to clean at the end of it, but considering there are tons of meals that can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes of active time, that’s a pretty good hourly rate of return.
Plus, eating out takes time as well. This is why I try to avoid eating out for “convenience” as much as possible. Instead, I try to save my dining out dollars for when I’m craving a really specific food, want something that would be difficult to make at home, or am going out to celebrate something or someone.
Not to mention when I eat at home I tend to eat a lot healthier and feel better day to day. I also really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. I typically put some music on, pour myself a drink, and talk to Cassie about our days while I cook. Cooking food helps me feel capable and is also a skill I love getting to share with friends.
Installing Our Floors
When Cassie and I bought our new house, we knew we wanted to put in new floors before we moved in (OK, Cassie knew and eventually convinced me). We could have paid someone to install the flooring we had bought, but the installation alone would have cost around $2,000 for our size house, plus the materials.
Instead, we watched a few YouTube videos and set out to do it ourselves. We traded probably 60 working hours between the two of us. We effectively paid each of us over $30 an hour by installing it ourselves, since we got to keep that $2,000 in exchange for our hours.
Sure, there are a few places where you can definitely tell it’s amateur work. But overall, it looks pretty dang good and we learned a new skill that has the potential to save us more money in the future!
Getting a Haircut
My last example is my hair! Rather than getting it cut at a salon, Cassie cuts my hair whenever it starts getting a little too long for my liking. We have a buzzer, hair cutting scissors, and thinning scissors and she’s gotten really good at it over the past few years. So good that I actually prefer the haircuts she gives me over the last few I’ve got at a haircutting place.
While this isn’t something that might work for everyone’s hair (Cassie won’t let me cut her hair; she says it’s too complicated), it certainly works for mine and saves me both money and time! Instead of paying $25-$30 per cut and having to drive to the salon and wait around until it’s my turn, Cassie just sets up shop on our back porch and I’ve got a fresh cut within 30 minutes. Plus, Cassie cutting my hair is always a nice way for us to connect, since it combines my two top love languages – acts of service and touch!
While these are just a few examples that are specific to my life, I’m sure there are a few things in your world that you might be able to insource. You might be surprised by how much you could save by insourcing a few more tasks, and you might be even more surprised by the additional positive effects these activities can have on your life beyond finances.