I’m a cheapskate at heart. I do my own mechanic work, maintain my own computer, do my own home repairs and will do just about anything I can manage on my own, to save money. So, it might seem strange that I’m writing this article about paying for services. Well, I’m a cheapskate who’s learned that there are times when it’s actually more cost-effective to hire someone else. So, because I’m also a person that likes to share ideas, here are some on jobs you might want to pay someone else to perform, and why:
Do it yourself oil changes is an activity that people sometimes suggest as a way to save money, but it doesn’t make sense to me. I have found that with a coupon (search online or in flyers or mailers that come to your house) you can get your oil changed for around $20 – $25 at most of the quick oil change shops. This is close to what you would pay for oil and filter at a retail outlet without spending the time (or getting dirty) to do it yourself. They key, of course, is that the oil change shops will try to up-sell you on other stuff, so you need to remember not to get hooked into these other services as they will be overpriced to make up for the cheap oil change.
Writing Ad Copy or Other Content
There are dozens of writing tasks you can probably handle on your own, but when the purpose of the writing is to put money in your pocket, there are good reasons to hire a professional. Writing compelling text takes more than just talent and grammar skills and by the time you learn how, your competitors will have your prospective clients. Fortunately, finding good writers is easy these days, thanks to sites like Elance and Textbroker.
There’s a very good reason that professional authors regularly hire proofreaders. Our minds have a way of tricking us into “reading” what we intended to write, instead of what’s actually on the page. For most, it takes days or weeks to “detach” from something we’ve written enough to proofread our own work accurately. Paying a proofreader may save you embarrassment, increase your profits and might even make the difference in having your writing accepted or rejected. Proofreaders work on a reasonable, per-word basis and are often a good investment.
Preparing Your Resume or CV
When it comes to landing a professional job or competing as a freelance professional, first impressions are everything. More often than not, that impression is going to come from the resume you submit, since prospective employers see it before they see you. While it’s true that anyone can create documents like these quite easily with modern technology, creating a resume that stands out from the rest isn’t quite so easy. Hiring a service or individual to at least “tweak” your resume may determine whether you land that dream career.
Converting audio to printed text is tedious work and requires focus. It’s also a little like proofreading, in that your mind can often hear something your ears didn’t, so accuracy can suffer. Professional transcribers can be hired online for about $15 – $60 per audio hour, so it’s worth considering how much of your own time would be required to produce an accurate document from audio content, especially with any distractions you may have.
The internet has placed almost any information you could want to have literally at your fingertips. If you know how to find and verify it, that is. Sure, you can Google just about anything and get thousands of hits. That’s part of the problem. Do you really have the time to go through all those links and determine which ones are from good sources? If you need lots of accurate information quickly, paying a professional researcher may save you a lot of time that you can use to make money. You can hire one through the freelancing sites or an independent agency.
If you operate a business or invest, managing finances isn’t just important; it’s critical. It’s also enough work to take entirely too much time away from the other aspects of the business. Hiring an accountant not only lets you put the time saved back into your business, it can help you maintain a better picture of where you stand financially. That can mean solving problems before they cost you too much.
Business Website Development
No doubt you’ve seen hundreds of ads online and in the media promoting designing your own website with someone’s software. There are also dozens of great content management packages out there, like WordPress and Drupal, that may make the process of creating and managing a site easier and there’s a veritable plethora of themes available for any business. So, why pay someone else? There are several very good reasons, but here are just a few:
1. Eventually, you’re going to run into a problem you don’t know how to fix.
2. The developing process will take time away from running your business.
3. Downtime equals loss of profits.
If an online presence is important to your business, you’ll save yourself money and grief by hiring a professional.
Business Website Promotion
Even professional developers hire someone else to market their websites. There may be no more competitive business than website promotion and the stakes can be very high if you depend on leads or sales generated from a website. Think about the staggering number of sites you’re going to be competing with and check out how many already have a good foothold. If you’re going to compete on the World Wide Web, you need people to find your website. You may be surprised at how reasonably you can hire a professional promoter.
If you don’t spend a lot of time on the online auction sites, but have a lot of items to sell, you might want to consider hiring a Trading Assistant. It takes a lot of sales to build a reputation on sites like Ebay, and there are a lot of things to know about posting auctions, not to mention many pitfalls to avoid. For many people, it’s worth paying a small fee to a “Power Seller” to save time and use the leverage of the seller’s reputation. To find a seller in your area, start here.
Getting rid of recyclables can be time-consuming, not to mention messy, even if you have curbside recycling available. If you live in an area where you pay a deposit for cans, plastic bottles, or other recyclables, you may have a big chunk of space reserved for saving those items until you return them for a refund. You may be surprised to find that there are a few enterprising individuals that will take those cans and bottles, along with your other recyclable materials off your hands for a small fee, or in exchange for the redemption value alone. Either way, before you discount this as a silly notion, think about the time you invest in sorting, hauling, etc. and see if it might not be better to use that time doing something profitable.
Semi-Complicated DIY Home Projects
Simple do-it-yourself home projects are a great way to save money, but I have found that anything that gets even a little bit complicated is better left to someone who knows what he’s doing. I think this one depends a lot on your DIY capabilities, but for many the time and possible damage that can be done trying to do it yourself can often make it a better choice to let a professional do it.
Anything You Hate Doing
This isn’t a free-pass excuse to say that you should pay others to do anything and everything, but if there is something that is important to be done on a regular basis that you absolutely hate doing, it is worthwhile considering paying someone else to do it. While you may be able to save money doing it yourself, the stress it causes you (usually for a prolonged period because you procrastinate doing things you hate doing) plus it not getting done as thoroughly or as well as it should be done can make it worthwhile to pay someone else to do it. While monetary costs are important to remember, how doing things yourself affects other areas of your life are also important to consider.
There are undoubtedly many other tasks I’ve neglected to include in this list. The point is, though, sometimes it’s not cost-effective to do everything on your own.
(Photo courtesy of quaziefoto)