I grew up with a dad that loved working. I’m not just talking about his day job, but on weekends and evenings, he would try to find work around the house to do. He would work on the yard, clean our cars, clean/organize the garage, chop wood, and many other household chores. And guess what, if I was home, I was expected to help him.
Fast forward many years later, and I still have a tendency to do things myself. The main reason I clean my own cars, wax my cars, clean the house, and do the yard work is because I’m tight (or frugal, to put it politely). I don’t like the idea of paying others to do something that I am able to do.
Even though I can perform these tasks, I don’t necessarily like doing them; in fact, I hate doing a thorough cleaning and waxing of our vehicles! I don’t mind washing them, but waxing, taking tar and bugs off, and shampooing the carpet, I really despise! Even though I don’t like doing these tasks, I periodically do them because I like having clean vehicles and believe periodic waxing helps preserve the paint.
BUT the last few times I have cleaned and waxed our vehicles, I realized I spent around 5-6 hours doing it. What else could I do with those 5-6 hours?
- Played with my kids
- Gone on a date with my wife
- Gone hunting or fishing
- Went to a couple different sporting events
This got me wondering what those hours were worth to me. Should I continue to spend my time doing something I don’t enjoy, when I can do something that I do enjoy?
Stop Waxing Your Car
It took me some time, but I eventually came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it. Last month, I paid $150 to have our van cleaned for the first time. I can’t say that I loved the experience of spending $150, but I didn’t spend all day Saturday cleaning the van. I spent the day working out, playing in the yard with my kids, and then going to the pool in the afternoon.
Do you enjoy cleaning your cars? Cleaning the house? Mowing the lawn?
A large part of my job involves helping clients figure out how to save money, however, there is a lot more involved. I like to think that I help my clients live their best lives. I don't believe living your best life involves doing tasks that you hate doing (or at least doing very few of them).
Do you have a 'Waxing Your Car?'
Is there a task that you despise doing and could outsource? If you could pay someone else to do it for you, what else could you do with your time?
We can also consider the opportunity cost of waxing our car. One of the alternatives mentioned above is work. If you delegate a task that you don’t enjoy doing, you could spend more time working versus playing. While working may not be as much fun as playing for some of us, it could still be worthwhile to delegate certain tasks.
I once heard a business owner explain that he prefers to spend his time doing what he is good at. He explained that he pays a young high school kid $20 to mow his yard for two reasons:
- The kid does a good job
- He can spend more time working in his business
This makes a lot of sense; if he can make $70 an hour and pay the high schooler $20 for one hour, then the opportunity cost of mowing his yard is $50.
Delegating is a powerful tool that I believe many hard workers have a hard time with. Delegating can give you more time to spend with people you care about, and it can give you more time to focus on things that you are good at.
We all have priorities in life, and we can enrich our lives by spending as much time as we can on those priorities. I want to challenge you to think of one thing you could stop doing today that would allow you to spend more time doing things you enjoy, or more time to focus on your strengths.
Brad Bobb, CFP® is the owner of Bobb Financial Inc, and an expert in retirement planning for federal employees.