I should get this right out of the way so you can still hear me: No, we don’t have a cleaning person. Yet.
I have definitely (and also defiantly) considered it. Believe it or not, hiring help is not just for snobs, Gateses, and old money Vanderbilts. It is more possible with an average income – and probably makes sense in more cases – than you might think. I’ve had at least one friend, making the same salary as I, who employed a cleaning person as part of improving her life.
For much of growing up I had a dismissive or negative view of such things, but the main criterion for this kind of spending is the same as for anything else: It is worth it if the benefit outweighs the cost.
There are lots of ways to think about a hired housekeeper in particular. Below is what I will continue to tell myself. Feel free to steal my guidelines if they make sense to you.
Josh, you are ready to hire a housekeeper if:
1) You’ve recognized that hired help may not be the result of wealth, but a reason behind it.
The ability to hire help usually comes from being industrious, not idle. It is a mistake to assume that only lazy people with lavish lifestyles have people to clean their households for them.
2) You can earn enough money during the cleaner’s hours that you exceed the cost of paying them.
A day budgets the same number of hours to everyone. If you already manage your time well and want to accomplish more, you need to offload things that aren’t critical for you to do yourself or are actually time-wasters. Decide if cleaning fits into these categories.
Obviously if you work for an hourly wage, you probably are not in a position where you can trade that money away. But wealthy people know when it is right to trade some away for an opportunity to generate more.
3) You’re at the point where failing to hire a cleaner counts as mismanaging your resources.
Here is what I mean: If you’ve built up your skills and demand to the point where an hour of your work is worth $50 or more, and a typical cleaning person costs $25-45 an hour, it may be wiser to hire a cleaner than to keep doing it yourself.
I want the value I offer others to increase the worth of my time until it is flat-out dumb to not hire someone to clean the house – at least until the chores can be divvied amongst our future kids.
Of course, I can’t tell you you’re making a wise decision one way or another, but you and your family aren’t the only ones affected by your decision. You might be able to make a small but meaningful economic and social impact.
4) You want to provide someone a good job that benefits you mutually.
It is worth considering whether you have the means to give someone a chance to provide for themselves and their family. Contrary to the beliefs of lots of idiots who think that jobs and job creation are good, but somehow owners and bosses are evil, giving someone a job is still a noble endeavor. You have a chance to help a fellow human being.
If you pay fairly, you may allow someone better opportunities than they currently have. For example, let’s say a high school student works as a barista for 16 hours a week during the school year and makes an average of $10 an hour.
As a cleaner, that same student could earn just as much in half that time (or less)!
Of course, if you do plan to hire in order to feel superior or have someone to boss around and degrade, do everyone a favor and remain protector of your own porcelain and tile.
5) Your time is priceless compared to paying a cleaner.
Sure, there’s the money reason above, but maybe you can’t put something as mundane as a money value on the activity you’d be doing instead of cleaning. Perhaps you are hospitable and want to hire someone to clean so you can focus on cooking for company and making their visit memorable. Maybe you hire a cleaner and a cook so you can put extra effort into entertaining. It could be more than worth it.
6) Your morale would get a significant boost from having a clean house and not being the one to clean it!
The trade-off might just be nice, period. If you can afford it, it’s up to you. Who knows what benefits could come about in the future from a clear mind thanks to an uncluttered and tidy house?
7) You’ve realized that you already hire outside help.
If you balk at the idea of hiring a cleaner, just remember that you probably hire a team to cook your meals pretty regularly. Whenever you go to a restaurant, you are essentially hiring a kitchen staff for the night.
All transactions boil down to a simple exchange of value for value. There is no need to attach stigma to hiring a house cleaner.
Bonus: You run a business from your home, and part or all of the cost is a write-off.
This is a more specialized reason, but I wanted to mention it in case it helps someone who has just started their own business.
I know that a messy house is a drain on my mood. I am convinced the attitude boost I would get from having a clean house, not having to clean our house, and being able to hire someone would be worth the cost. Yet I also want to justify the money equation. I hope to be there soon.
Fortunately, in the meantime I know that if I begin cleaning, I get good momentum. Now if I could just start.
You alone can answer: How much is my time truly worth?