Outsourcing Our Everyday Lives – Good Or Bad?

This is a guest contribution from Fran Sidoti, full time folk musician and part time writer.

An article in the weekend papers got me thinking. Writing about the increased levels of outsourcing we are accustomed to, I was shocked at thinking how much of our every day is given over to someone else in order for us to get on with our ‘every day’ lives. Often it’s to help us just get our work done, let alone spend some time with our loved ones. It appears to be a question of time or cost. So what effect does this new way of living have on our well-being and on our finances?

Types Of Outsourcing

Think you don’t outsource any of your life? Do you have someone come in and help with the cleaning? Use a personal trainer? Pay someone to walk your dogs? The age-old outsourcing is of course child-care, from the one night a month babysitting to the permanent nannies. And now the examples are becoming more widespread- the article talking of personal concierges, who are employed by the hour to do whatever it is you need done. Need your laundry picked up, or someone to find the perfect present for a 3 year olds birthday on the weekend? That’s what a personal concierge can do for you. And while I don’t pay any one for outsourcing, ask my Mum about the odd laundry drop-off and she’ll tell you all about my outsourcing techniques.

Why We Outsource

Outsourcing has been around for a long time among the wealthy. The recent change has been the normalcy of large levels of outsourcing in middle class families. The reasons are fairly obvious- with most families now being two-income, there is simply fewer homemakers that handle the admin of the every day. When you’re handling it, you realise how time consuming it is. The rise of single-parent families is another prevailing factor. The Sunday Mail article suggested that, while women could be working the same hours or as demanding a job as their partner, there’s still an implicit understanding that they will take up most of the daily task slack. A friend of mine made a good living just by doing handy man jobs- for elderly women or people who weren’t DIY inclined.

The Effects Of Outsourcing

Outsourcing can have a variety of effects, both macro and micro. The ‘care chain’ is an excellent example of the macro. For instance, a woman earns money by being a full-time nanny. Her children are then looked after by a relative or a friend, or she employs someone. And so the chain continues on, and extends globally. On a micro scale, the level of work being outsourced wasn’t affected by the GFC, mostly because people tended to work as hard if not harder at their jobs and still require all the assistance.

What It Might Mean For You And Your Finances

We all probably outsource our lives to a greater or lesser extent. The choice for us is time versus money. It’s a relatively simple decision if we are earning more money than we are spending when we outsource. It’s a more complicated decision if we are outsourcing in order to spend quality time with our loved ones, or have a bit of a relax. Outsourcing can be a lot of additional bills at the end of our month. So the decision is about how you would like to use your time, and whether you’re willing to spend money to get some extra of it.

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