Friday, October 10, 2014

"Do It Myself!"....from the mouths of Frugal Folks

Image by author.  "Who me?  Yes, me!"

Fiercely independent since birth, my daughter's two-year old catch phrase was "do it myself!"  While her grammar has improved over time, her attitude remains that of "I can accomplish tasks on my own, no assistance needed."  She shares this attitude with many young girls, and also those who lead a frugal life.

Enjoy yogurt?  Make your own!

Halloween is approaching -- pull out your mother's (or grandmother's) sewing machine and whip together stellar costumes.

Cutters filling with leaves -- just hop up on the roof and shovel them out!

Do it yourself resourcefulness is a perfect way to stretch family budgets.  Why pay when you can do the work yourself!  However, while it is possible to stretch a budget of money, one's time is rather finite.  There is the need to sleep, eat, bathe, and bond with family and friends.  Oh yeah, and work. For those without an employer or clients, the stay-at-home parent crowd or recent retires, they have a bit more time to stretch and manipulate.  For me, time is my most precious commodity and I guard it like no other.

So recently I found myself considering hiring someone to clean our house.  There was my husband, encouraging me to outsource, knowing that each item off my to-do list opened the door for either more time at the office or more time with my family, he would endorse either.  A champion of the phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none --- Why clean a toilet when you can write a will and earn a lot more?"  His argument, a condensed version.  Friends urged me to call "their person", singing of the joy of returning home at the end of the work week to a clean home.  All I would need to do is make sure the "kids' stuff is put up and away so they can clean."  Easier said than done.

Back and forth I went, and in the end I followed my daughter's mantra -- do it myself.  Why?  It certainly isn't a decision based on math.  Our budget would be higher if I spent more time at the office, leaving household cleaning to someone else.  But the thing is, I like my house.  I like tidying up the place we call home.  Besides, 2/3s of the work is picking up after the kids and then cleaning. Why hire someone and have an on-going obligation, requiring me to work.  When I clean my own house there is no duty, obligation, pressure -- call it what you like -- to keep the cleaning person. And that is priceless.

My decision was reinforced on a recent morning walk.  My daughter and I had just dropped my son off at kindergarten.  On the walk home we met Doris, a neighbor.  She did not look at day over 70, but conversation revealed that she was 86!  She had raised six children, all going to school my son now attends.  "And I still clean my own house -- feels great, keeps me young!" --thanks Doris for the nudge.  Not only am I saving money, but a good cleaning is a decent workout if done correctly.  Also, my inner control freak knows that the products used will be one's I prefer (i.e. vinegar to chemicals I cannot pronounce).  Keys to forgoing the cleaning person when you also work outside the own and so does your partner:

  • Surround yourself with what you need and or truly love;
  • Recognize disorder as a sign of a home bursting with love;
  • Admit that you will not mop every day/week/maybe longer -- it is ok; and
  • Avoid comparing your home to others, especially those in a photo spread or TV show

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