Is Outsourcing The Key To Happiness?

Is Outsourcing The Key To Happiness?

In his best selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek, author Tim Ferriss explains how outsourcing your to-do list can result in a more ideal work-life balance. Instead of being glued to your phone and email like most busy professionals and entrepreneurs, Ferris recommends delegating the time-consuming, unpleasant, or simply boring tasks in both your professional and personal life.

“Just as one example, if you can find someone, let’s say, to compile Excel spreadsheets for you for $12.50 an hour, if you make $25 an hour, that’s an immediate 100% return on investment – not to mention what you were able to do with the time you free for yourself.”

Ferriss would hire virtual assistants from India or the Philippines to handle repetitive tasks like scheduling interviews, doing research on prospective clients, and managing his calendar of appointments. It freed up his time to focus on the things he was best at or that he enjoyed.

Today it’s more and more common to outsource household tasks such as cleaning, laundry, car maintenance, lawn care, and even meal preparation. Yes, hiring a maid is no longer just for the wealthy. Many busy families pay for a cleaner to come in every week or two to vacuum, do laundry, clean bathrooms, and tidy the house.

Outsourcing your way to happiness

New York Times columnist Carl Richards broached the subject of outsourcing in this article titled, “Happiness = Hiring a Maid. Really?

Richards quoted research which found that paying someone else to complete unenjoyable daily tasks could result in greater life satisfaction, and that outsourcing housework you dislike could even save your marriage.

But when Richards shared these findings with his friends and colleagues the idea was met with anger and hostility. His tax lawyer friend who charges $300 per hour still changes the oil in his car. Another friend who earned $50 per hour still bakes his own bread that he could easily buy with a $5 bill.

What was missing in the study is the satisfaction that comes from doing basic things well yourself. Why does everything have to fit into an economic model?

My experience with outsourcing

For about two years my wife and I hired a cleaner to come in bi-weekly and tackle the big cleaning jobs like vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms. This was when our kids were younger and we just didn’t have the time (or energy) to stay on top of the household cleaning. It cost around $150 to $175 per month.

We stopped outsourcing household cleaning once both of our kids were in school. Besides the fact that we had more time to do it ourselves, we also found it stressful on the nights before the cleaner came. We’d frantically pick up everything off the floor and tidy so the cleaner didn’t think we were animals (We weren’t. We just had toddlers). It was too much.

I’ve outsourced lawn care on-and-off over the years. I don’t have the greenest thumb, for one, plus I often use my weekends to write and work on financial plans. In this case it’s a clear economic decision. Pay $75 per month for lawn care so I can earn many times that by writing an article or completing a financial plan.

Last summer I didn’t arrange the lawn care soon enough and our usual company was booked. I thought it would be easy to do the work myself but by August the grass was patchy and brown. Epic fail!

My wife makes her own sourdough bread. Yes, we know we can easily afford to buy bread at the store. But there’s something oddly satisfying about making something from scratch and knowing exactly what goes into it.

Finally, many online entrepreneurs I know have embraced the virtual assistant to handle various tasks such as scheduling, email, research, and graphic design. Aside from web design and maintenance I haven’t ventured down that path as my wife and I handle the day-to-day operations of our business. So when you send me an email you can rest assured it’s actually me (or my wife) replying to it!

Final thoughts

Outsourcing makes a lot of sense from an economic perspective. If you earn $60 an hour then why not pay someone $15 an hour to do an unpleasant or time-consuming task?

But where do we draw the line? Is your time still worth $60 an hour when you’re off the clock and home watching Netflix?

On the other hand, you shouldn’t feel bad about outsourcing things you generally dislike or don’t have the skillset to perform. I’ve never changed the oil in my car and will gladly pay $60 for someone else to do it.

Related: Worthwhile fees to pay

That said, some people take outsourcing to the extreme – to the point of outsourcing the reading of bedtime stories (<—father of the year!). But, hey, who am I to judge?

Is outsourcing the key to happiness? I think in many cases outsourcing some things not only makes economic sense but can lead to a happier lifestyle. It all depends on what you do with the time saved.

In some cases, like when I outsource lawn care to spend time writing, there’s a clear and direct economic trade-off. In other cases, like hiring a cleaner so you can spend more time with your family, it might be more of a lifestyle decision.

What tasks do you outsource? What do you insist on doing yourself? Let me know in the comments.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Wally on May 31, 2023 at 6:58 pm

    Absolutely ridiculous!! So, I should hire someone to wipe my ass??

    Outsourcing makes a lot of sense from an economic perspective. If you earn $60 an hour then why not pay someone $15 an hour to do an unpleasant or time-consuming task?

    What?…and waste money because you’re lazy?…the world has gone crazy, for sure!!

  2. Geekaroo on May 31, 2023 at 7:42 pm

    Time is a finite resource and it cannot be replenished. Provided if one has the financial means why not! Offload the things that have no value to you. This mean different things to different people.

    For me I don’t enjoy cooking and cleaning so I outsource them. Same for car oil change. I change oil and maintain my motorcycle as a hobby. I dont enjoy gardening nor major home Reno so I outsource them.

    I disagree that outsourcing = lazy. You get to spend more time doing that things that you value more.

  3. Wally on June 1, 2023 at 5:00 am

    I stand corrected, that makes sense.

  4. Ivy on June 1, 2023 at 5:44 am

    I agree with some outsourcing.
    We use to hire a cleaner to come in every two weeks to do a good cleaning of the house because my husband and I were busy with full time jobs plus 3 children.
    It allowed us to have more time with the children and activities for them to enjoy.
    As for outsourcing things from your job . . . I think that is an iffy situation. I would think you would have to still invest the time to review that outsourced work and you would be accountable for any mistakes missed. Different strokes!

  5. Jennifer on June 1, 2023 at 6:23 am

    We tried outsourcing weeding and garden bed maintenance last year for the first time. It started off quite well. But then the communication became lacking (they failed to tell us when they were coming), billing often included time the group left for lunch, and eventually the visits suddenly stopped, with no explanation. When I reached out, the company didn’t even apologize. We got conflicting instruction from the head office vs the team on the ground. So ultimately, it became quite stressful. And this year, their rates went up 16% over last year. I would love to have a company onsite to help with weeds, but only if it benefits my mental wellbeing.

    • Joanne on June 1, 2023 at 9:10 am

      Totally agree. Sometimes the time and effort to manage the outsource isn’t worth it. If you can find a great supplier, it’s well worth it but it does take lots of time, energy and research IMO.

  6. David Cameron on June 2, 2023 at 7:29 pm

    I would certainly agree if I could obtain lawn care for $75 per month. Perhaps you had a very small lawn.

  7. Deepak Thakkar on June 2, 2023 at 7:52 pm

    I agree with many comments. I was in the industry where the Outsourcing was with a purpose to save Cost in the corporate world to save on salary cost. However, the same is not true when you outsource to gain back some time that you so desire. The objective is the key for the action ‘Outsourcing’. Sure, there are side effects (good and bad). However, we seems to forget one thing the money we accumulate is nothing more than credit to spent in lieu of different services from others when we are unable to perform ourselves. It has various reasons for the same action: Seniors would spent money to buy service when they are unable to perform them. Young folks may do it because they need to buy back some time which is limited for them. So, Outsourcing is good and it is different for each person to suit their living. Chairman and Directors higher CEOs to run the corporate world and Managers hire workers to perform task. Their objectives are different but boils down to these reasons (Save Cost because someone can do it better and cheaper, Professional and skilled services because one lacks these skills, Buy back some time by allowing someone else to do the task etc.). In the end it is good as economy is nothing but a social interaction of each other’s services and money is just a common way to measure its value.

    • Keith on June 5, 2023 at 10:26 am

      Great response Deepak!

Leave a Comment

Join More Than 10,000 Subscribers!

Sign up now and get our free e-Book- Financial Management by the Decade - plus new financial tips and money stories delivered to your inbox every week.