For whatever reason, I had this mentality that anyone who pays for someone to help clean their house is wasting money.
But Andrea and I have been talking about this for a while. We've been cutting costs for so long in trying to pay off debt, that an expense like this seemed luxurious.
Would we be throwing money down the drain if we got a house cleaner? How much of an impact would getting a house cleaner have on our budget?
We decided that starting this month, we are going to have someone come in periodically to help us clean our house.
Busy Schedules Mean Less Time
When our girls were young, when Andrea didn't work a typical job or go to school, she was able to spend more time during the day cleaning.
But since then, Andrea has gone to cosmetology school and opened up a salon business. I'm also spending time working on this blog, and our girls are very active.
With both of us being incredibly busy, this has left us with less time to get to some of the deep cleaning tasks. In other words, our time has become more scarce, and we are more exhausted.
We also are bringing in much more money every month than we were five years ago, which means more flexibility in our budget.
Budget Impact of a House Cleaner
On a general level, if we wanted to pay someone $200-$300 per month to help us clean our house, that isn't going to have a significant impact on our budget.
Is being able to pay for a house cleaner a luxury? Yes. But it isn't a considerable expense relative to the amount of money in our budget. Sacrificing a few percentage points with our savings rate isn't going to ruin our financial future.
In fact, it has a good chance of giving us more time and energy to create more memories with our family. It also might end up putting us in a position to increase our income further, since our overall stress level would go down.
Freeing Up Mind Space
There is nothing like looking at your to-do list and realizing that you can't keep up, resulting in more stress and frustration.
You know there are things around the house you need to get to, but you also have other tasks that you would rather knock out. Something has to give, and sometimes it can be difficult in prioritizing what matters most to you.
Being able to have someone help around the house means you immediately reduce your todo list.
When I'm feeling overwhelmed by what I have to get done, this often can trigger my anxiety. It becomes harder to focus on what I need to do, and my energy quickly gets sapped.
I want to spend time playing with my kids, but when I'm exhausted, that can be tough at times. For example, I love reading with my girls, but sometimes this ends up getting cut when I need to hold out in my room to recover from a grueling day.
I realize the more I can keep my mind in a healthy state, the easier it is for me to be the best version of myself. I don't get as frustrated or stressed out as easily, and I'm a much more enjoyable person to be around.
Also, one point worth mentioning is that you might be losing money not hiring a home cleaner; especially if you can spend that time increasing your income or generating more money. That extra time may end up putting you ahead!
More Family Time
The main reason we looked into doing this was because of how much more time we can free up during the weekends.
I don't mind cleaning toilets or vacuuming, but I would rather spend my time doing other things—like going to the park or spending the afternoon at the pool outside.
Family time is at the top of my priority list. It's worth more than a few hundred dollars at this stage in our lives.
My detailed-oriented mind fights me on this point. It screams, “spending $250 per month equals $3,000 per year. Over 10-years, this could turn into $46,000!”
Granted, this could be an overly optimistic view of what this money could turn into. But in any case, that is still going to be a significant chunk of change over 10-years.
But then this led us to ask ourselves this question. Is more free time during the weekends worth more than $46,000 over the next ten years? The answer for us, given our current circumstances and income: YES!
Do we lose some opportunity for this money to grow and add to our nest egg? Yes. But we get the benefit of this time, and it adds a tremendous amount of value to our lives.
Getting the Most out of a House Cleaner
It's one thing to decide that you want some help in cleaning your house. But that is only the start of the discussion. As part of bringing in a house cleaner, you will want to think about the following questions:
- How much help do we need and how much help do we want?
- What exactly would a house cleaner do?
- How often would they need to come in?
- What would be the best time for a house cleaner to come in?
How much you need to budget for a house cleaner will primarily depend on what you want them to do, and how often.
In our case, we don't need help with the day to day stuff we already handle, which includes:
- General picking up around the house
When we thought about it, it was more of the “deep cleaning” tasks that would be the most beneficial for them to focus on. These include:
- Cleaning bathrooms
- Deep cleaning tubs
- Vacuuming floors, including our stairs
- Mopping floors
- Deep cleaning the stove
- Cleaning our main level couch
Cleaning our couch is a major deal for us since we have two medium size dogs.
Sitting down and figuring out how long it takes you to do the following (or not to do the following), can help figure out how often you might want someone to come in, and about how much time it might take them to complete these tasks.
In our case, we guess that it takes us around 20-hours per month to complete the above list, especially if we do them thoroughly.
No Guilt Luxuries
I know that we are blessed to be in a position where a few hundred dollars isn't a huge financial decision for us.
When we were trying to pay off our consumer debt as quickly as possible, this amount of money was a huge deal. It meant we could save on interest charges and become debt-free faster. Having to do this wasn't “fun”, but it was necessary to get those balances paid off as quickly as possible.
In this phase of our life, where we are trying to build our net-worth, we need to make sure our budget is sustainable. And we need to make sure the way we spend our time matches up with our priorities.
For us, this means loosening up our budget.
Some people would say that this is not the time to slow down if you want to reach financial independence as quickly as possible. They also will say that we should only have one car in our household and avoid going out to eat at all costs.
Sure, there is a time for cutting your spending as much as possible, but I don't want to be miserable until we reach FI. That would mean partially sacrificing the time we have with our girls while they are young, which is more valuable to us than all the money in the world.
How Much Does a Home Cleaner Cost?
We set a rough estimate in our budget for a home cleaner at $250 per month. But we are planning to get multiple estimates to hammer out exact costs.
I found Thumbtack as an option to get a rough idea of how much hiring a home cleaner would cost. There are a bunch of other sites that provide a similar service.
My biggest concern with hiring a cleaner is making sure they are reliable, trustworthy, and are insured. I don't want to have to stress about wondering if they are going to show up and do a good job (that would defeat the purpose).
Who knows. We might end up having them do more than our current plan.
Optimizing the Time when a House Cleaner Comes In
I work at home, which means I have full flexibility when they can come in (assuming we don't have them clean my home office). During the summer, the girls are at home, which means they will need to vacate the premises during that time.
In our case, the girls usually end up having friends over the most during the week. If we had a cleaner come in on Monday, they would most likely make the most substantial messes right after each cleaning session.
I think if we have them come in on a Thursday or Friday, right before the weekend, this would be the optimal time for us. We would have a clean house during the weekend when Andrea is mostly home.
But your situation might be different. So it is worth thinking about what works best for you.
Stop Focusing on How Much You Save
I'm so used to living under the heavy burden of debt that any time we talk about spending more money, my insides start to crawl.
But what's the point of saving money if you can't spend it joyfully? Is life more than always trying to save as much money as possible?
I'm finding that I'm having to re-train my mind not to get so anxious when spending money. Sure, we need to avoid wasting money. But any time we can spend money that adds value to our lives is money well spent.
In our case, sacrificing a few percentage points in our savings rate for a house cleaner will free up time and make our lives less stressful.