I recently wrote about services that we never would have purchased forty years ago but which now are commonplace expenditures. Indeed, I suggested (or at least implied) that there was no real reason to ever use services such as a lawn service because most domestic services we could and should handle on our own.
I confess, however, that I was setting all of you up. Although the reasons for not using a lawn care service, a home security service, a swimming pool service, or any of the other services that I sited, might be valid, there are also a lot of good reasons to pay good money to have other people do some work for you. Indeed, I pay monthly fees to a yard maintenance worker, a home security company, and a swimming pool company, a lawn and shrub service. I also pay to have very basic services performed on my car.
I know that many of you may scoff at my expenditures and, agreeing with my first article, feel that I am being wasteful. That said, I have good reason for all of my spending. Perhaps you will agree with me?
Yard Maintenance: I love being outside. I love working in my yard. If I could, I would be happy to spend several hours per day working in my yard. Unfortunately, I do not have the time and, even if I did, it would cost me more per month to maintain my yard than to have my “Tony” take care of it for me. Tony is (i) a great guy, and (ii) my “yard guy.” Every Tuesday he comes to my house and mows my lawn, edges my lawn, “whacks” my weeds, applies weed control chemicals and, as needed, trims my shrubs.
If I were to handle all of those chores on my own, I would need to purchase all of the equipment, maintain all of the equipment, and spend approximately twenty hours per month doing the needed work. Tony charges me $115 per month. There is absolutely no way that I can compete with Tony. If I do the work on my own, I will lose money. I will also lose twenty hours per month that I could spend helping my kids with their homework or helping my wife with other chores. Perhaps even more importantly, I know from experience that I cannot make my yard look nearly as good as Tony can. If you can find a “Tony” it is better to hire him and take a part time job with all of the time that you save than it is to give your time to your yard and lose money.
Home Security: I may be a victim of the media or I may just be sensitive to the risks of being home alone. I do not worry about my home or my family when I am home, but I do worry if I am out – even if it is the middle of the day. I want to feel that my family is safe and to know that my family feels safe, even when I am not there to protect them. I live in a good neighborhood but there have been plenty of burglaries here over the years. Even if the odds are one in a thousand that someone might break in while my family is home, even one in ten thousand, I prefer the odds of having a security system. What I spend in a monthly fee, I more than make up for in peace of mind.
Swimming Pool Service: I use a swimming pool service for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that I tried to handle the pool on my own and it turned green. Perhaps my swimming pool service was visiting my house at night and dropping green food coloring in the pool but I tend to believe it was my own incompetence! Also, I have a son with asthma and if I store chlorine and other chemicals in my garage, the fumes will be very unhealthy for him. I do not need to keep any chemicals at my home because I am willing to use a service. More importantly, by using a service, I am relatively assured that my pool is safe every time my family takes a swim. That is worth the added cost, even if I have to work a bit harder to pay for it.
Lawn and Shrub Service As with pool care, I do not want to store pesticides and commercial fertilizers in my garage any more than I want to store chlorine. My kids and wife just don’t need to breathe it. When I was growing up, we did not store our car in our garage so there was no need to go into the garage very often. It was a fine place to store fertilizers. Now our cars are in our garage and my kids enter and exit our house through our garage – they just don’t need to inhale the fumes from lawn care products.
Basic Automotive Maintenance: I recall a post several weeks ago in which a reader noted that people should handle auto maintenance without going to a garage or calling AAA. As I also recently noted, however, Americans have lost a lot of their pioneer spirit and the do-it-yourself mentality of our forefathers. I readily admit that I do not have any pioneer spirit when it comes to mechanics. If I try to do anything to my car other than put gas into it, I will be creating a road hazard. No one has taught me how to maintain a vehicle and I do not feel that a self-training approach is safe. Accordingly, I pay my auto-shop to do everything for my car. I do not feel that I have any alternative, no matter how easy it may be to learn.
When my kids are grown and out of the house, I may feel that I have the time to handle some of these projects on my own (but I hope I never lose Tony!). I may be wasting money now, but I can’ think of it that way when I am saving time and making my home safer. What other household services do you feel are worth the cost?