Outsourcing Your Life Isn’t Always Worth It

by Ron Haynes

Like it or not, and despite the proclamations of self-professed “experts”, YOU are the cheapest labor you can hire. Whether the task is mowing your lawn, changing the oil in your car, painting your house, designing a website, or many other projects, if you’re relatively competent, I believe you should do it yourself.

time I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth already. The argument for outsourcing your life usually takes the following tack: “I make $60,000/yr which translates to $30/hour so anything that costs less than that should be outsourced.” Hogwash.

How much per hour do you REALLY make?

That $60,000 is pre-tax dollars but you can’t spend pre-tax dollars. In reality, after federal, FICA, Medicare, state, and sometimes even local taxes, you’re likely to bring in about $40,000. Divide that by 40 hours over 52 weeks and you’re actually making a little more than $19/hr while you’re at work. Are you earning anything the other 70+ hours you’re awake during the week? Not unless you make extra money on the side, but even then, you’re probably not working more than an additional 20 hours per week.

Include every hour you’re awake and that number dwindles to about $6.99/hour. Include the time you’re asleep and you’re looking at only $4.57/hour. Even someone who makes that “magical” $250,000 per year averages only $43.71/hour awake and $28.62/hour in total. When I ran these calculations for myself, it made the services I was paying for look really expensive.

To understand what you’re losing by “outsourcing your life”, you have to consider:

  1. How much income you have to earn to produce enough after-tax dollars to pay for a particular service.
  2. How much income you truly lose by taking the time to do it yourself if you’re competent and proficient enough to do it.

The outsourcing crowd mistakenly believes that every single hour they’re awake demands their undivided attention or else they will lose money. They claim to create an e-book, seminar, or some other project during that time that makes them oh so golden. Again, hogwash.

If you have to convince someone you’re an “expert” by outsourcing things you could do yourself, chances are pretty good you’re just lazy, or narcissistic, or craving the attention you get from being too important to do anything yourself, or very bad at math … or all of the above.

Again, the important term is “relatively competent.” If you don’t know what you’re doing, outsourcing something makes sense. Otherwise, you’re wasting money. Not only that, but doing something yourself give you a sense of accomplishment and also gives you insights that you would never have otherwise.

Another aspect to consider is: Do you have the tools to get it done correctly? If purchasing the tools would cost more than the outsourced job would cost, AND it’s probably a one time thing, outsourcing makes sense. I just outsourced my first ebook cover to Pete from Logos for Websites. I don’t have the proper software, not do I have the design flair that Pete does (he is AWESOME!). So I used his expertise to design and create the ebook cover.

So, if you have the tools and you have the ability, jump in there and tackle that project. Don’t pay someone else to do what you can (and should) do yourself.

Photo by ˙Cаvin 〄

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 5 comments }

Patricia Mathews

Outsourcing also makes sense if you’re elderly and/or don’t have the physical strength to do the work – or if the work is piling up undone. I used to irritate my husband enormously by calling in professionals to do what he kept saying he’d do. “I SAID I’d DO it!”

“Yes”, I’d say, “and you’ve been saying that for a month.”

Oh, yes. Outsourcing can sometimes make excellent sense.

Ron

Agreed. Sometimes that falls back into the ability category … or inability.

Sun

I think OP’s point about laziness is illustrated well in the comment above. I think my time is too valuable is just an excuse, which is part of the male head of household single salary era. I used to pay for a person to clean my home two times a month. It wasn’t because I was too busy (even though I am self-employed), I just didn’t want to do the work. You have employees to do the work you don’t want to do.

101 Centavos

Nice post, and agree completely. Besides the value component, are the skills. If you’ve always had someone change your oil or do minor plumbing work, can you do this yourself *if you had to*? Companies who are infatuated with outsourcing will eventually discover that the knowledge do do an erstwhile in-house process is gradually lost, and never comes back. Same with households. You need to know and develop basic skills. In the end, they will be more profitable for you, as demonstrated above .

Jill Moore

I am all about DIY. Why pay someone else my hard earned money when I can just do it on my own. Of course if there is a massive project that might require permits or out of my ability range, I would definitely outsource. This topic kind of reminds me of the debate with the hubby when it comes to asking for directions when on a trip.

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