How Insourcing Strengthened Our Marriage

Do you fight with your partner over who’ll do the laundry? Mr. Frugalwoods and I used to. But fear not, our consumer culture has created a way for us to resolve just about any marital spat: pay someone to do it for you!

Don’t Fight, Hire Out!

Arguing over who’s going to clean the house? There’s an app for that. Disagreeing about when you should do the laundry? There’s an app for that. Neither of you feels like cooking dinner? There are 30 apps for that. Too tired to walk the dog? Yep, an app for that too.

Us in NYC

Us in NYC

Last week while in New York City, Mr. Frugalwoods and I were bombarded with ads for every type of delivery and errand service imaginable. Based on these ads, it sounds like no one actually does anything for themselves anymore. Seems bizarre to us that the touted solution to our hectic, frenzied lives is not to simplify, but rather to pay other people to solve our inconvenient problems for us.

We’ve heard from a number of friends that their housecleaner saved their marriage. I’m thinking, really? Far be it for us to say what’ll save your marriage. But a reasonable, and far more financially prudent, way to “save” your marriage is to communicate openly and establish equitable, agreed-upon divisions of labor.

Marriage Isn’t A Partnership Anymore

Modern culture doesn’t view marriage as a true working partnership anymore. These days, couples usually don’t collaborate on projects. Sure, they’re married and creating a life together, but are they working together? Making a broad generalization here, but bear with me–on the farm back in the day, a husband and wife had to work together and depend on one another’s contributions to the family.

The usual Frugalwoods snow shoveler

Mr. FW shoveling all of our snow himself

Now it’s more in vogue to work separately, which often yields the absence of a shared life goal/financial destination. The vast chasm that’s created between a couple’s two professional careers is often filled by spending money. I think it’s easy to slip into the mindset of “why should we do this, neither of us wants to and we both work hard, so let’s just pay for it.” Plus, the ever-looming specter of maintaining appearances can lull us into thinking everyone else is paying for it, so we should too.

By hiring out every imaginable errand–from cooking to childcare to dog washing to house cleaning–people are ensuring their dependency on two incomes. For some, this is a conscious choice about trade-offs and they’re fine with the prospect of creating a lifestyle that’ll necessitate working traditional jobs for the vast majority of their lives. And for others, these are calculated expenses enabling them to better manage their childcare needs or work demands. But I think for many folks, it’s much less a conscious choice and much more a reactionary, stuff-needs-to-get-done-now surrender.

This is not to say that all outsourcing is bad–it’s certainly not. And, not everyone’s experiences are comparable. Mr. FW and I are fortunate that we’re healthy, active, young adults with the ability to do these things for ourselves. But this is not a luxury everyone enjoys, which I fully realize. We also don’t have kids yet, which certainly adds another layer of complexity to a household management system.

Mr. FW and I holding hands at our kitchen table yesterday. He totally made fun of me for taking this pic.

Mr. FW and I holding hands at our kitchen table yesterday. He totally made fun of me for taking this pic.

Why Don’t We Outsource?

Mr. FW and I are the demographic these services target–we both work full-time, we live in the city, and we make good money–so why don’t we pay for them?

These tasks were traditionally performed by the at-home partner, thus enabling the other partner to work full-time. Since we both work full-time, we avoid paying for this stuff by sharing responsibilities equally. More importantly, paying someone to do our chores so that we can work feels an awful lot like paying for the privilege of working our jobs. And, we’re not willing to pay for our jobs.

We'd rather be living here

We’d rather be living here

We’d both much rather do our own dirty work, save our 71%, and retire to our homestead at age 33 as opposed to slogging through 9-5’s for the next 40+ years.

This convenience economy also illuminates the degree to which partners don’t need to rely on one another’s competencies. Spouses who don’t collaborate on life and financial goals are far less likely to be on the same financial page. And, when you don’t work together, you’re leaving your partner’s creatively and ideas on the table. You chose each other for a reason–so why not cooperate and utilize your complimentary skills.

Mr. Frugalwoods and I have, over the course of almost 7 years of marriage, honed a system of spousal collaboration that reduces our dependence on external sources of labor. Our system is imperfect, and we’re forever ironing out kinks (as other kinks form) but, it sure does save us a lot of money and make us darn effective partners.

Division of Labor = Happy Wife, Happy Husband, Happy Hound

We're pretty happy together, just making shadows

We’re pretty happy together, just making shadows

We don’t consider one person the homemaker and the other the breadwinner–we’re equal parts of both. This mindset led us to specialize in our respective domestic fields and create a clear division of labor. For example, we don’t debate who’s going to cook dinner because it’s always Mr. FW.

We’ll sometimes deputize the other person to assist us (I make ask Mr. FW to move the furniture when I vacuum), but otherwise, we keep to our assigned specialties. We’ve found that this fosters equality in our marriage, shared ownership over our domestic life, and gives us a chance to demonstrate affection for the other person on a regular basis.

My sweet chef husband

My sweet chef husband

That’s right, I said demonstrate affection. Doing rote duties for one another brings us joy. I love ensuring that Mr. FW has clean undies to start the week and he takes pride in cooking my meals. It’s much more meaningful to put effort into performing these duties for each other than to farm them out to a third party (who, incidentally, you have to pay).

For example, Mr. FW always makes food for me before he leaves on a business trip. I could scrounge meals for myself (likely an apple with peanut butter… and cookies, let’s be honest here) but he delights in caring for me in this way. I tell you what, I’ll take meals prepared for me in advance over pointless jewelry and flowers any day. I don’t need “gifts” from my husband, I need the gift of daily partnership (and meals!).

Women vs. Men In the Domestic Arena

I often hear from girlfriends that they bear the brunt of household labor–a statistic that’s borne out in research. All of these ladies work-full time, yet somehow they’re also expected to take care of everything on the home front.

Cleaning our bathroom!

Cleaning our bathroom!

Mr. FW and I decided early on (before we were even engaged) that we wouldn’t be structuring our relationship like that. Call it feminism, call it an egalitarian partnership, or just call it honest love and respect, but, we don’t play that way. Not to mention the fact that I’m a certifiably horrendous cook (I’m currently banned from making scrambled eggs until I learn “better technique”).

By having parity in our tasks, we distribute the workload evenly and don’t put undue pressure on one person to manage everything. If you’re in a partnership where the workload feels lopsided, I encourage you to address it head on with your partner. You could even use our Frugalwoods relationship conversation guideline if you’d like (yes we’re total weirdos and still follow this outline from time to time!). An unequal partnership is not a true partnership, in my opinion.

You could feed me twice

You could feed me twice

For the record, Frugal Hound approves of our division of labor because it ensures she always gets fed and walked. However, much to her houndy chagrin, after we mistakenly fed her dinner twice one night, we now have a foolproof mechanism for not feeding her twice–we just ask the other person if they’ve fed her yet. She disapproves of this advanced human communication system.

A Rocky Past

Life hasn’t always been this rosy for Mr. FW and me. We used to have epic fights over who was going to do which chores and exactly what constituted a fair distribution of our household’s menial operations. I can’t say I’m proud of yelling at my husband over who should dust the living room–and I can’t print the words I yelled–but suffice it to say, there were some dark housekeeping-related times.

Frugal Hound: not actually helpful with household chores

Frugal Hound: not actually helpful with chores

Laugh if you want to (I am as I write this), but it wasn’t funny at the time and, for whatever reason, household work was our achilles heel. For some people, it’s their finances. Easier to avoid or bicker than to get at the root cause of your debt or your overspending. I personally found it very tempting to fall into what I’d call “passive aggressive cleaning” whereby I’d stomp around in a huff with my dust rags and shoot death glares at Mr. FW.

From these despairing times, I totally get why people succumb to the seductive call of Merry Maids. If you can pay your problems away for $100 a month, why the heck not? Well, because it reduces your independence (not to mention your savings account).

There was no magic cure for our arguments over domestic tasks, just honest communication and a commitment to figuring it out. We knew we weren’t going to take the easy way out of hiring someone, so we had to buckle down and make a plan. I think just about everyone has a blind spot in their relationship at some point in time, which is truly an opportunity to grow. It took maturity and patience to get our acts together and come up with a household management system, but I’m glad we did. It forced us to examine a number of weaknesses in our marriage, which we wouldn’t have uncovered had we gone the passive route of hiring out.

It’s Not Just Money Saved, It’s Skills Built

Mr. FW sewed a hole in his pants with my mom's sewing machine. Another example of insourcing everything.

Mr. FW sewing a hole in his pants. Another example of insourcing everything.

In addition to the money we save by insourcing, this mode of operations has the stellar side benefit of allowing us to constantly try new things. Saving money is of course great, but there’s a broader sense of joint satisfaction that we derive from doing these things ourselves. We’re empowered to learn new skills. If something breaks in our house, or our clothes need mending, or we’re trying to develop a new recipe, suddenly, we’re researching and learning.

Expanding the repertoire of things we know how to do is rewarding. It gives us a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that’s pretty hard to replicate if you’re just writing a check to a contractor or tipping a delivery driver. Instead of only appreciating freshly painted kitchen cabinets right after they’re finished, or only enjoying a meal as it’s consumed–we relish the afterglow of our triumphs for days, months, years even.

Our cabinets before

Our cabinets before

Every time I look at our kitchen, my heart leaps because I love our white painted cabinets and I love the teamwork and achievement they represent. We taught ourselves how to do the work properly, we went to Home Depot together (many times), then jammed to music and drank beer while we painted and sanded long into the night (for many, many nights). It would be impossible to reminisce about that shared experience, and the fun we had, if we’d instead gone to the movies and paid a painting crew to paint our cabinets.

Rent this kitchen!

….and after!

Since that particular project cost us all of $183.45, the money saved speaks for itself. But most importably, we learned a new trade, which we’ll likely employ in the kitchen of a future home too. Hence, the frugal weirdo mode of DIY learning builds upon itself over the course of a lifetime.

The Future

Our inherent love of dividing and conquering will hopefully serve us well on our future homestead. We’re a well-oiled collaboration machine and having land, gardens, and possibly animals to manage together appeals to us in a deep and almost instinctual way. It feels like what we were meant to do.

Paying for services cements your reliance on money and distances you from your most valuable teammate–your partner. Instead of using chores as an opportunity to grow closer, you’re using money to make the daily realities of your life less, well, real.

We don’t view our chores as a drag that should be meted out for hire, we instead view them as integral aspects of our lives. They humble us to work with our hands, get dirty, and challenge ourselves to figure things out instead of paying them away.

What’s your favorite thing to insource?

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133 Responses

  1. Mrs. PoP says:

    We are what I think of as a “project couple”. We really do enjoy taking on projects and tackling them together – it’s really one of the best ways that we show each other in and out that we’re better together than we are apart.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s awesome, Mrs. PoP! I’m with you–collaborating together on projects lends so much depth to a relationship.

      • Doing joint DIY projects is actually one of the times when my wife and I get along the best. It did not use to be that way until we accepted the fact that one of us had to be the lead and the other the assistant. Who is what depends on the project. (If it’s painting, she’s definitely the lead.)

        Our most “epic” recent project was installing a looooong french drain all along the rear wall of the house. Three Saturdays of (almost literally) back-breaking work digging a 2-foot deep by 2-foot wide trench. I did the pick ax work breaking up the clay ground and she did the shovel work scooping the loose stuff out. We did great. Tired, but great.

        And we saved a whole bunch of money doing it ourselves.

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          Great point about having a project lead–that’s something we do a lot too. It just makes things run more smoothly when the person with the real competency heads up the project! I’m super impressed with your french drain digging–we’ve been considering doing something similar on our patio… long story involving a subpar drain.

          • FIGina says:

            This reminds me of your earlier post about the fight at IKEA. I made a remark to my husband while we were putting together IKEA furniture to the tune of “Wow babe, this must be a prerequisite for marriage, don’t you think?”. I had to just let him do his man thing and be the boss, even though I knew what was wrong 🙂

  2. I have to admit, I hate cleaning my own apartment and I probably outsource more than I should. When it comes to gender roles, I find my relationships tend to follow traditional stereotypes of labor. It’s more that heavy lifting and fixing things isn’t in my skill set though that leads me to taking on the cooking, laundry, etc.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Totally makes sense to hew to your strengths! I tend to think of them as competencies as opposed to gender roles, but I suppose it’s the same idea. I’m all about dividing and specializing!

  3. Jessie says:

    I love how thoughtful and active you guys are in keeping your marriage happy & healthy.

    Now, tell me more about this sewing machine…..is it difficult to maintain? Easy to use? I haven’t used a sewing machine since home ec in middle school, but that’s something I would love to insource. Looks like I could pick one up for $50-$150 on craigslist around here.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh great question on the sewing machine–sorry to disappoint you, but that’s actually my mom’s. We too would like to buy one off of Craigslist but just haven’t pulled the trigger yet. My mom’s machine is probably 30+ years old and still runs just great. It’s very simple and straightforward–nothing programmable or touch screen. It’s definitely easy to use!

  4. This is truly wonderful. I just wrote about the opposite over at EOD last week. We hired cleaners – just as you said, as “a reactionary, stuff-needs-to-get-done-now” form of relief. When we started our journey out of debt (Debt? Go figure) we stopped hiring cleaners. It’s been the single toughest thing for me in our still-forming frugality. Cheap groceries? No problem. No travel? No problem. Working summer school? Fine. But house-cleaning? Ugh! Again, you hit it right in saying that sharing chores “forced us to examine a number of weaknesses in our marriage, which we wouldn’t have uncovered had we gone the passive route of hiring out.” We are discovering not only weaknesses in our marriage, but in our relationships with our children too. My hope and belief is that all will be “cleaned up” with effort, communication, and time. This is a rather long comment. Sorry about that! Great post : )

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s a wonderful insight, Prudence! Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m so glad to hear that you’re on the road to cleaning it all up :). I have no doubt you’ll get there! I think it’s amazing how many layers of emotion there are to our daily chores–Mr. FW and I always uncovering new ways to communicate and conquer.

  5. Love this. Hubs and I agreed to a new division of labor a month or so ago. I cook, he cleans. It’s worked pretty gosh darn well so far! Though, when I was meal planning for this week, I got a little lazy and wrote Pizza in an open night. He gasped at me when he saw it! How rude! Apparently a month of home cooked meals every night spoils a man!
    I’m not sure how we’ll fare at bigger projects. We haven’t faced any yet. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
    My biggest insourcing to-do is learning how to use my sewing machine. I have the materials for my first project and everything. I’m just hesitant to jump in.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s awesome, Kate! Sounds like you two are well on your way to figuring out a smooth-operating household management husband-wife team/system ;)!

      I’ll be curious to hear what your first sewing machine project is!

  6. We are always better as a team. We taught our children at a very early age how to use the washer and dryer. We all pitch in with the chores around the house. I’d love to hire someone to clean the house but I’d rather not part with the money for something we can do ourselves. I just cleaned the bathrooms and did they laundry this weekend. 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Nice! I like that you involve your kids in the household chores. Such a great way to teach them the value of taking care of oneself!

  7. What a fantastic system. The Mrs. and I have a similar agreement in which she does the inside of the house and I do the outside (pool, trash, YARDWORK, cars). Having an equal division of mutually agreed upon labor shows that you respect your partner and want to share in the work that maintains your lifestyle together.

    It is also wise to play to your strengths – that bread looks delicious! In 99% of the couples I have met, there is always one individual who is the talented cook and the other who loves the fact that there is a talented cook in the relationship.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Agreed! Focusing on strengths has always made sense to us, which is why it’s best that I don’t cook ;). Can’t tell you how grateful I am that Mr. FW is a wonderful cook!

      Sounds like you and your wife have a great system going on too!

  8. bev says:

    Ok….what I want to know is where, why, and how did the both of you obtain so much maturity at such a young age? I truly want to know this. This wisdom that you both seem to have usually only surfaces after a lifetime of marriage and arguments, often times not at all. A race to the bottom so to speak. Everyone just settles into their own state of dissatisfaction with life. I do appreciate your honesty about your previous disagreements and about how you both worked it out. Amazing, utterly amazing to see the level of maturity you both have at your ages. You will have no problems with your homesteading. Yes, problems, leaky roofs, overgrown weeds, hauling, physical work, but that’s the easy part if you can believe it. The mental part of who does what and the sharing of responsibility, etc. you’ve got down pat. Your love and respect for each other is obvious in your writings…..something you both should be the most proud of.

    Bev

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much, Bev! That’s really kind of you to say! I think we’ve just always had a commitment to figuring stuff out and not letting arguments go unresolved. We’re pretty reliant on one another and we’re both very grateful for the other person, which has helped us build a culture of respect in our relationship. And at the end of the day, having our shared goal of homesteading is what really brings us together and makes us realize we’re always on the same team :).

  9. Oh man we know this all too well. Our thing that we bicker over most is food. My wife and I just have different styles. I can eat the same thing every day and she wants variety. We’re working on it.

    Another thing I find helpful is to switch it up every once and a while and do the other person’s chore (especially when you hate it). This will make you appreciate them doing it even more!

    I love that you’re able to look at the cost of a service like that over the long haul. “This thing will require me to work longer – is that a sacrifice I’m willing to make?” Great stuff!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’m definitely a fan of considering long-term costs as well as the benefits I’ll reap if I teach myself how to do it. I find we’re capable of so much more than our culture gives us credit for!

      I like your idea of switching chores periodically–every once in a blue moon I’ll cook dinner and we both laugh and agree that I should never cook…. 😉

  10. Great post! I see my co-workers struggle with this as they currently pay about $200 a month for cleaning services while struggling with debt. They feel like it’s a necessity and have the mindset that they work hard and have no time so they just outsource (even though one spouse feels it’s unnecessary but it would be unfair to pick up the entire burden). Surprisingly, the co-worker and I are both male but often feel that we do more of the household chores than our counterparts. It’s something that better communication is required because both my wife and I too often choose the passive aggressive route. Fortunately, both my wife and I are too frugal to outsource most tasks so we end up having to figure away to get the chores done.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh wow, $200/month while in debt is just rough! We definitely did the passive aggressive cleaning thing for far too long–I gotta say, I’m so relieved we’re past it now. So, I feel your pain!

  11. This is pretty much how we operate. We each take on tasks that we are good at. I cook what I know, Mrs. RoG cooks what she knows. We eat very very well. She folds laundry, I haul the baskets up and downstairs and can handle sorting, loading the washer and dryer, and hanging up shirts. When it comes to home improvement or cooking tasks requiring 2 people, we team up and enjoy the together time. It’s like dating all over again.

    Some people go out and pay money to other people to allow them to spend time with their partner. We think that’s silly when we can produce something awesome at home AND do it for free AND not waste any time commuting to a place for the sole purpose of spending time together. Why is it our choice is considered backwards and everyone else is sane? 🙂

    On the chores front, we also have kids that are old enough to empty trash, clean the bathrooms, sweep, feed the cat, etc. We’re insourcing with the whole family! Well, except for the 2 year old. I’m lucky if I get him to throw his shoes in the general vicinity of the correct place.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Perfect. Sounds like you two operate a highly efficient, successful, and loving household! I love that you think of chores as dates–that’s exactly how we think of it too. We went on A LOT of dates to finish our kitchen cabinets, for example ;).

      And, I think it’s wonderful that you’re getting your kids involved in the chore brigade as well. How old before a kid can clean a bathroom ;)? Gotta say, that’s my least favorite room to clean, so the sooner I can delegate to a kid….

      • Hmmm, age 8 seems to be the sweet spot. Our 8 year old can barely clean the bathrooms but our almost 10 year old is pretty good.

        Having them in charge of cleaning the bathrooms also means they “get it” when we say “hey be careful about making a mess in here. It has to be cleaned up by someone”. 🙂

        Next up, teaching kids to wash the dishes.

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          Ok, thank you, this is valuable data for my future plans… Now how about getting a greyhound to clean a bathroom ;)?

          • If it’s dirty because it’s covered in hamburger, then really any age.

            Oh, and I found out my cat can wash dishes yesterday. As long as there is macaroni and cheese on the dishes.

  12. Hannah says:

    Insourcing has helped our marriage too, although yesterday my husband told me, “Stop tidying the construction zone; it wants to be dirty.”

    Over the past several years, I’ve noticed that my husband does complex tasks with ease, and he complicates simple tasks. As a result, our division of labor is: I do everything that qualifies as simple (except folding his laundry which the way he wants it done is not in fact simple) and he does everything that is in fact complex. Even though this means that much more of the daily life maintenance falls to me, he is renovating our entire house and that has a long term positive effect on our quality of life- (extremely positive like installing a dishwasher and overhead lights).

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That construction zone comment sounds exactly like Mr. FW! He drywalled a wall earlier this year and I kept trying to vacuum and tidy around him, until he told me to stop :). That’s interesting on the complex vs. simple tasks–I see many of those parallels with Mr. FW as well.

      How awesome that he’s renovating your house–wow! Sounds like a keeper.

  13. MEL810 says:

    In my household, for health reasons, there are certain chores and tasks that I can’t do: I can’t be around paint and solvents, for example. Or clean the cat litter. And I hate vacuuming.
    But on the other hand, I am a great, efficient dishwasher and I don’t mind cleaning the kitchen or the bathroom or doing the laundry.
    I am leery of hiring out housecleaning. Not only do I not want some stranger poking around in my house but I feel bad about having someone be a ‘maid.’ With the exception of the owners of such businesses, the maids themselves tend to be over-worked and under-paid. I would feel like I was exploiting someone. And with only two people and one cat in my household, a maid would be a splurge and an indulgence. It’s far from a necessity. The only time we will hire a cleaner is when we move out and need the place deep cleaned so we can sell it.
    We only hire out for those things that we can not do well and generally require a trained professional’s touch: auto mechanics, plumbing (beyond the basics), electric, repairing the appliances, etc.
    I can’t sew worth a damn. My sewing looks like it was done by a dyslexic chimpanzee. LOL! But I trade sewing for computer tune-ups and repairs with a friend who is an excellent seamstress. I am a talented pc diagnostician and tune-up/repair person (Not my day job but I am good.) So it works out well.
    By the way: If your washing machine ever sounds like it has the missing Malaysian airliner inside it ‘s motor (and mine did!) do this: Put baking soda and vinegar in the tub and let it set awhile, Then run it through a wash cycle with clear water. Worked like a charm for me! And it saved me time and money on machine repairs!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Sounds like you have a good system worked out. And, totally makes sense to hire out for things that really should be done by a professional!

      Also, I love your bartering deal–that’s a fabulous arrangement.

  14. The only thing we outsource is our home cleaning and that’s because of the total return that we get from outsourcing it. I can make significantly more during the time it would spend cleaning my home than if I spent the time cleaning my home. I would cut just about everything out of my life before I would cut Marlene (our cleaning lady who has been with us for 7 years). As far as the other home chores, hubby and I have always been a great team about it. If one of us cooks, the other cleans. He does the laundry but I fold. When we do mid-clean, clean ups, I always handle the upper part of the house i.e. counters and surfaces and he handles the lower or the floors. We have had a few debates over the dishwasher unloading or cat litter box, but for the most part we enjoy a feeling of balance.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That totally makes sense to me! When you’ve calculated the return, it sounds like a wise idea. And, that’s great that you two are a good housekeeping team–doesn’t surprise me at all :).

  15. Amy@DebtGal says:

    Great post! I love how much thought you give to things many of us don’t really think much about (until we read your posts).

    I love doing our own yardwork. It’s great to be outdoors, I get some exercise, and I love the sense of satisfaction I see when a previously weed-filled bed is weeded and/or freshly mulched. (Can you tell I’m DYING for the snow to melt so I can get outdoors??)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, yes to snow melting! We were headed in the right direction and then it snowed again last night…

      I totally hear ya on the outdoors chores–so nice to get the fresh air!

  16. Megan says:

    Do you know about the concept of “love languages”? In a nutshell, the idea is that each of us has a particular way we like to express and receive love: either through/from gifts, verbal expressions of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. The idea is that if you have a different love language than your partner, it can create conflict and misunderstanding. It sounds like both you and Mr. F share the same love language(s): acts of service and quality time. Sounds like it works great!

    • Great point and I was going to mention it in my comment too but forgot. My wife and I also share “acts of service” love language which helps.

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        Oh very interesting! I’m not familiar with the “love languages” concept, but it makes sense to me. Now that I’m reflecting on it, I think Mr. FW and I have honed our love languages to be more similar over the years. Thanks for sharing this!

  17. Pat says:

    I am a one woman show in my house. My Yorkie, Nancy, hasn’t learned household chores…like frugal hound.

    My favorite insourcing chore is bathing my dog. It saves me lots of money. At times, I trim her hair to.

    Does anyone have tips on highlighting or coloring hair? I would like to be able to do a decent job at home.

    California Pat

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh Nancy–you can’t even be bothered to take out the trash ;)?! Sometimes we joke that Frugal Hound is like the worst roommate ever–doesn’t pay rent, eats our food, makes weird noises, doesn’t do chores… but then again, she’s super cute!

      Dog bathing is a great insource! We wash Frugal Hound ourselves too (much to her chagrin… she’d rather stay dirty).

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any tips on home hair coloring as I don’t color mine, but, I bet someone here knows!

  18. Norm says:

    Pull quote: “We’re not willing to pay for our jobs.” I know so many people who basically do that. And now I have a succinct comeback.

    It is great to share the household responsibilities and do projects together. For example, we are planning to build a shed in our backyard this summer. Last night, Marge said she didn’t think we could build it totally on our own. But I said we definitely could if we worked together, and I said she could help design the shed. She promptly drew a castle, a silo with a peaked roof, and an igloo. See, working together makes sense!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh yeah–so NOT willing to pay for our jobs ;)!! I’m very excited about your future castle/silo/igloo shed. To be fair, some combination of those styles could probably yield a shed-type structure…

  19. Let’s be honest… at the end of the day, no one really likes chores. But if you’re able to perform the chores you dislike least, and your spouse handles the other chores you’d rather not do and isn’t upset about it… it is a win-win! And it appears you two have found that division of labor which has improved your relationship. Bravo!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thanks! For me, it’s all about getting into the zone of whatever chore I’m doing. Once I’m fully present and engaged in the task, I actually do enjoy it! Though I can’t always get myself to the place of present and engaged… 😉

  20. Lia @ TechPF says:

    I just got engaged last weekend, and one of the things that makes me so excited about my future marriage is that my fiance and I are great at tackling problems together, whether housework or anything else. We were lab partners together all through engineering school, and I think that really helped us learn how to work together to get things done.

    It’s funny though–as two big over-achievers, we probably had more fights over “let me contribute more!” than “you’re not helping me enough!”. Sometimes one person doing more than you want them to can be just as big a problem as one person doing too little. Although this usually isn’t the problem when it comes to doing dishes.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Congrats on your engagement! How exciting :)! And, that’s awesome that you’ve already got a good system for working together–I’m sure you’ll be able to channel that over-achiever streak into doing amazing things as a team 🙂

  21. Mary says:

    When we were first married (33 years ago), we decided that when one of us cooked, the other did the dishes. Once the kids started coming, we divided duties and my husband took the laundry and dusting. The form and duties has changed over the years to change things up and accommodate new schedules, etc. Just last weekend, I asked if he wanted to change duties. He is thinking about it, so maybe I will end up with cleaning the multitude of greyhound poops in the backyard. Gotta watch what I ask!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s wonderful that you’ve been collaborating and working together for 33 years! What a beautiful partnership! And, that was very thoughtful of you to ask him if he wanted to switch–though I’m with you, I’d rather avoid the greyhound poop ;).

      Any advice you’d offer to us newbies? Tips that have kept your marriage strong over the years?

  22. cheapRN says:

    Mrs.FW, great job of articulating one of the many problems in our consumerist culture. Kuddos to you both for figuring out what works for you. And I agree with you that this thinking has done a lot to undermine the state of marriage here in the US. It does need to be a partnership and it should be divided among the partners according to ability, not necessarily a 50/50 arrangement.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! And, I definitely agree with you–it’s all about finding that balance of chores that works best for each partner.

  23. We insource almost everything (except for the meals we eat out) due to necessity, but I think it will also help us keep up with our DIY mentality once we do finally have the discretionary funds to hire outside help. I’m definitely not opposed to outsourcing, and think that hiring a cleaning service for twice a month when we have little ones and are both working might be in our future, even if it may be considered lazy. As an argument for outsourcing I would say that I love my job (and usually am fine with working the long hours required during graduate school), my husband, and my future babies and would much rather spend time with my family than clean our bathrooms or mop the kitchen. It certainly won’t be a make it or break it issue with us, but a house cleaning service sounds awesome during those busy days! Right now we’re both pretty good with our set chores – I cook most of the time and he cleans up most of the time, we split cleaning the apartment equally, share laundry duties, grocery shop together and usually never fight about our division of labor. It works for us, and as you said, it’s also helping us to develop those crucial communication skills early on during our marriage that will help when the crazy (baby rearing) years come 🙂

    • I don’t see a problem if you go into it with your eyes open. An interesting exercise from Your Money or Your Life is to add up what you make at your job and subtract EVERY SINGLE cost associated with it–child care, house cleaning, prepared food because you’re too tired to cook, etc.–and taking into account all the time that your job takes up (commuting, decompressing afterwards, daycare drop off and pickup, etc.) to work out your real hourly wage. As long as you’re happy with the result and your kids are thriving, that’s all that matters.

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        What Frugal Paragon said. I derived my concept of not wanting to pay for my job from Your Money Or Your Life. But, I think it can totally be a trade-off that’s a wonderful option for many folks. As long as its a conscious, measured decision, it makes sense to me!

  24. When I was a kid I didn’t like Westerns, but boy I love them now! You know, the old ones ~ “Big Valley”, “Bonanza”, “The RIfleman”. It’s so cool seeing how people were at least perceived to have lived. We could all learn a lot about good, honest, hard work from our forefathers and mothers.

  25. MEL810 says:

    I have a chore for Frugal Hound: It is something most all dogs can do and are very skilled at doing: Being barkyum cleaners!

  26. Even Steven says:

    Yeah it’s funny what works for each couple, I remember early on getting into battle royals over the dishes, now it’s like we became grownups and just want the stuff done, crazy how that works.

  27. Fiby says:

    You guys have such a healthy outlook on marriage! I’ve seen several couples treat marriage as more of a business partnership rather than a commingling of lives, and I always found that odd.

    Favorite thing to insource…cooking. Not because I particularly enjoy cooking, but because eating out gets grossly expensive if you make a habit out of it.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much! We try to put a lot of effort into our marriage–success varies, but we try 🙂

      Eating out really is ridiculously expensive! Way to go on cooking for yourself. I think it’s one of the greatest ways to save money every single day!

  28. Michelle says:

    This post made me smile. I think that you hit on a very important point about the collaborative nature of being in a relationship and the opportunities to nurture one another through doing what needs to be done to run a household well.

  29. Tawcan says:

    Insource is definitely the way to go. It also helps you to grow as a couple. Want to have a challenge on how well you work with your spouse? Try putting together an Ikea furniture. 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha–that is SO true! We’ve had our fair share of Ikea/Craigslist furniture assembly and moving, which is always entertaining 😉

  30. Shannon says:

    You guys are going to rock the homestead!

    I too have heard, “A maid saved our marriage!” In my 20’s, I was in a bad marriage where simple day to day life was just so hard and divvying of chores was a nightmare (although that was small peanuts compared to the real issue going on). Thankfully that was in the past, and a great partner makes all the difference in the world!

    Husband and I are very busy. The topic of a housekeeper was discussed at one point. It seemed lots of our friends used the same lady and raved about her (only $10/hour too). However, when I really looked at the tasks that seem to take up the most time, they were everyday stuff like dish washing, food prep, decluttering and dog hair management – I really cannot see hiring someone out to do day to day stuff because it needs to be done daily! That would add up! And you wouldn’t want to let that stuff stack up for 2 weeks in between visits either.

    In the end I decided it wasn’t worth it and besides, people who retire early don’t pay for housekeepers! Pshaw! We are looking for ways to streamline those daily chores more effectively (still a work in progress). I think I want a Roomba though. I feel we divvy chores pretty nicely between us and arguments over who does what are very far and few between. We find if one is working on a chore, the other cannot just sit and do nothing.

    As far as home improvement projects? We’re a mix of insourcing (we don’t like it, nor are we skilled at it), just simply not doing it (ha), and visions of outsourcing but haven’t bit the bullet yet. I have a spare bedroom that has one wall taped and painted a different color for about 5 years now. THAT is how slowly we do house projects. We did outsource the second story back deck which was very wise I must say! Love that deck.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh that’s so interesting about your bad marriage and the struggles with daily chores–I’ve long surmised that might be the case for people in struggling relationships. So glad to hear you’re in a happy marriage now :)!

      Also, you’ve got this right: “people who retire early don’t pay for housekeepers!”

      Roombas are of interest to me as well. Too expensive right now, I think, but if the price drops over time, I’d be game. Also, I think it would be hilarious to watch Frugal Hound interact with it 🙂

      Your one painted wall is cracking me up! Don’t worry, we have similarly long-lived house projects (for example a sort of hole in our kitchen floor right now… long story).

  31. MEL810 says:

    Mrs. FW: You are always mentioning your love of cookies. Here is a recipe for NAVY BEAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES! I haven’t tried them but the posters on Grit say they are delicious! I guess this recipe healthifies the cookie recipe somewhat. It certainly ups the protein and fiber a bit.
    http://www.grit.com/food/recipes/navy-bean-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe-zmrz15mazcalt.aspx

  32. Such an interesting topic, and it sounds like you have a great system going! My hubby and I have a similar agreement (but it’s not really an agreement so much as a “this is what we just do and we’ve never talked about it” situation).

    I tend to do all of the inside chores (cleaning and cooking….because that’s what I enjoy doing) and then Hubby mows the lawn, shovels, takes out the trash, etc. Although many times I’ll do some outside chores and he’ll clean or cook. I have to admit though that since we’ve added a baby to the situation, it is sounding more and more appealing to start outsourcing things like mowing the lawn and hiring a cleaning service. I think once we are making a bit more income, we might consider it. Especially since spending a few less hours a week cleaning would mean that I have more time to allocate towards work, and I earn more per hour than cleaning services would cost.

    Great post that really got me thinking!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s nice that you two sometimes rotate between your duties–provides a nice change of pace, I imagine :). I think if the math works to hire a housecleaner, then go for it!

  33. My wife and I are still trying to find that balance that segregates the workload evenly. I typically do all the cooking, take the dogs out, feed the dogs, and make sure the trash gets out. But she does dishes, laundry, and a lot of the house cleaning. We have from time to time paid for a house keeper to do some of the heavy lifting.

    There is a part of me that would love to save the money and not spend it on house keeping, but there is also the other part that knows that we would much rather be spending out time doing something else other than chores around the house.

    I am not a good insourcer because I tend to look at things in terms of whether they are the highest and best use of my time…the only exception is if I actually enjoy the activity.

    But I totally get sharing the burden and totally understand why the Frugalwoods do what they do.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yeah, for us it’s all about lifelong learning and finding satisfaction in doing the chores that comprise a life. Plus, we’re just too frugal to pay people to do stuff for us :). But, I totally get why people do outsource and I think everyone has to find that balance that works for them.

  34. I’m so frugal that I hate outsourcing except for work on cars. My husband would like to hire everything out, but I’m slowly convincing him this is the way to go, especially if he wants to retire early.

  35. Since our children were born especially, we’ve had a more traditional division of labor. I’m just waaaay more interested in taking care of the home than Mr. FP. And the hours at his new job are really grueling. So even now that I have gone back to work part-time, I try to do most of the heavy lifting at home–shopping, cooking (even if I am working in the evening, I try to leave something in the slow cooker, or some leftovers), cleaning, etc. I think when your daily lives are very different, it’s hard to really understand how hard the other person is working (I don’t really know what it’s like to get on a bus at 5:55 am, and he doesn’t really know what it’s like to make dinner with preschoolers underfoot), but we do work at it.

    And we keep each other on the straight and narrow. I’m embarrassed to admit that I seriously considered not cleaning our townhouse when we moved out, and just letting them charge us. We just had to many other things going on. But Mr. FP said absolutely not, and we loaded up the kids (who amused themselves with bits of string left behind in the empty house) and scrubbed the place down together.

    I try hard not to be one of those moms who says, “Oh, I just can’t keep a clean house because I’m too busy playing with my kids.” For one thing, I don’t think it’s that good for kids if their parents are always trying to entertain them. For another, I think it’s important for kids to see how a house is run. And for a third, and this is really important, Mr. FP hates chaos, mess, and disorder. And I think a guy who’s busting his ass to provide for his family–and then putting the kids to bed two nights a week and having them solo every other Saturday while I work at my not-financially-necessary-or-all-that-lucrative job deserves some consideration :-).

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Love it. Sounds like you’ve got a really good system going on. And I completely agree with you on the cleaning house with kids thing. Obviously I don’t have kids yet, but, that’s how a household runs! The house needs to be cleaned!

      Mr. FW and I also hate chaos, mess, and disorder, which is what fuels some of our organization around housekeeping. If something is left out on the counter, we look at each other in wonder and think, “who left this thing on our counter?!?” 😉

      I think that’s a wonderful gift of respect you’re giving your husband by cleaning–seriously, that’s what a good marriage is made of! Thank you for sharing this!

  36. We insource as much as possible and is safe to do. Now crawling around on the roof removing moss … I’m ready to hire someone for that chore:0) The hubster has had eight joint surgeries and is considered disabled so there are things that must be hired out but we do what we can. The trick is finding what you can do and letting go of the rest.

    We have always worked seamlessly as a team. We don’t necessarily have individual roles. It’s more of … you walk by the laundry room and loads need to be switched, you do it, we often work together in the yard, the kitchen, etc. We just love to do stuff together!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Totally agree with you on hiring out for roof-related tasks! And, I like your comment about letting go of the rest. That definitely resonates with our style! There are some things that just don’t get done perfectly, but they are good enough (and usually free).

      Sounds like you two are an awesome team! That’s inspiring!

  37. When does The Frugalwoods’ System of Spousal Collaboration e-book come out? I will totally buy it.

  38. Rachel says:

    My husband and I in source most things. Over the years my husband has just had to learn that my level of clean is different then his. Comes from growing up on a farm. For now I do most the cooking or he helps me and he does the dishes. We have started a new system that assigns one task to a day and that repeats weekly. Then it’s whoever completes it. We have learned what works best for us, is not necessarily splitting it evenly but making sure the other feels appreciated. Clearly our love language is more words of affirmation. I can’t honestly imagine paying someone else to clean my house though. And my husband can’t imagine paying for most remodel projects. So we just kind of work together and have learned that the way we communicate has changed us from arguing to a conversation. Glad you guys were able to figure out a system that works!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Sounds like you and your husband have a wonderful system in place! I think you’re exactly right–it’s all about making sure everyone feels appreciated and not overburdened. Thank you for sharing!

  39. Greypaws says:

    Great post. I was so lucky my DH was taught basic housekeeping & cooking by his mother and always has been willing to help me as needed to keep our home clean & tidy. And I help him with outdoor projects. He also took care of our child when I worked, we worked opposite shifts as much as possible to save babysitting bills. Although DH could never figure out diaper pins without injury to himself or the child, so we keep disposables on hand for those times. I could not imagine a housekeeper, even had we been able to afford one, I would feel I needed to clean before I let her in the door LOL

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s wonderful that your husband has always been so involved in household chores! Mr. FW’s mother also taught him how to cook, which I am eternally grateful for. And, your strategy of working opposite shifts was genius–I imagine that must’ve saved you a ton. Plus, your kiddo had the benefit of more time with a parent!

      I agree–I can’t imagine hiring a housekeeper either!

      • Greypaws says:

        Quote ““passive aggressive cleaning” whereby I’d stomp around in a huff with my dust rags and shoot death glares at…” I forgot to mention, we’ve also had our rocky times and I’ve done this a few times over the years! A few years after we were married the DH comes home from work and announces he is king and should not do all the things he does. It seems his co-workers laughed when he mentioned his part of the chores & child care. So I told him, okay if you are to be king & I”ll be queen. If he can sit at the end of the workday, so can I. Since I must work too, then he has a choice of hiring out all the indoor & outdoor chores or nothing get’s done, including his meals & laundry. It didn’t take too long to bring him back around to ‘if we do all things together, they are much sooner finished and we can spend time together and do fun/quality things.’ As I was always working on a limited schedule & needed to care for our son, I included him in whatever I was doing. By the time was he 2 he was sitting on the counter helping me bake cookies, polishing the coffee table while I cleaned the living and he helped outdoors with whatever project we were doing. It kept him by my side, taught him so many valuable lessons that have carried through adulthood. When he left home, he knew how to do everything for himself. He wouldn’t have learned this if we had let him sit infront of the electronics acting the little king of house 🙂

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          That’s a great lesson–I love that you engaged your son in all of your household work. Makes a kid much more a part of the family work flow.

  40. Kim says:

    I do most of the housework because I’m home more and I’m type A. I honestly don’t know how we kept it going when I worked all the time. We never hired a maid, but spent in other ways to make up for our stress I suppose. I can’t justify outsourcing things we know how to do when every dollar spent is a dollar that takes away from FI!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’m a bit more type A than Mr. FW too, so it works well for me to be the precise cleaner and him to be the creative cook. Totally agree with you–I can’t justify outsourcing for myself either!

  41. “I personally found it very tempting to fall into what I’d call “passive aggressive cleaning” whereby I’d stomp around in a huff with my dust rags and shoot death glares at Mr. FW.” I laughed when I read this and was glad to see I was not the only one to succumb to this passive aggressive nature. Thanks for sharing this post you gave us a good laugh tonight while we reflected on some of the fights we had back in the day. Interestingly enough our division of labor is very similar to yours nowadays.

  42. Great post. We have a similar division of labor in our house. The Mrs cooks and I clean up after, she does the vacuuming and I clean the bathrooms. Like you guys it hasn’t always been so easy and we have gotten a cleaning crew to come by for the past few months. Ever since we added another set of feet to go along with the four of ours and the eight little paws that pitter patter around this place it’s been much more work to keep clean.

    A happy division of labor makes for a much better relationship!

  43. This is an interesting perspective on the whole “outsourcing” culture. We do a lot of stuff on our own, primarily to save money. We plan on essentially renovating our whole house on our own save for some more specialized tasks (like running new electrical lines, for example). I get a lot of PTO at my job and I want to leverage that to do some of those bigger projects, such as a retaining wall, that will save us thousands on labor.

    I always appreciate you mentioning your goal to “retire” at 33. That has to be highly motivating and really help you stash away your money. I think my wife and I land on the opposite spectrum. I think even if I had enough money to I would continue to work. Maybe not in the same capacity, but in some capacity that would equate to a “full-time” job. My wife will never be a stay at home Mom and we are basically 100% sure we’d prefer to have a nanny over daycare. We are aware at what expense this comes at, but it will be nowhere near a trade-off for our full-time income. With that being said, we are in no rush to have kids and honestly would prefer to wait as long as possible (7-10 years, ideally). Because of how much time my entrepreneurial pursuits and full-time work takes of my schedule, I do anticipate outsourcing a lot in the future, but I don’t see it as a detriment to our long-term goals. I would want my “side” or “extra” income to more than compensate for these tasks. I’m not good at outsourcing, though…I honestly have trouble outsourcing stuff on the blog even though I know it would pay off over time.

    You’ve don it again Frugal Woods. I’ve left a massive comment in reaction to your post!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hahah, I LOVE massive comments :). I think it’s awesome that you and your wife are on the same page and so in sync with your long-term goals. That’s what makes a happy marriage, in my opinion :). I think it’s all about knowing what you want out of life and making those trade-offs/decisions to best fulfill your goals. Sounds like you are all over that!

  44. As a Radical Homemaker it’s no surprise that I’m a huge fan of in-sourcing. I also particularly hate feeling the need to justify things I do myself in the form of cost-savings. Many of the things I do save money, some don’t. I don’t do them to save money. I do them because self-sufficiency is something to value.

    Thinking of things in terms of chores is a bad mentality. Saying that it’s better to hire something out because “I can earn $x more” is a false economy. Work is good for us. There’s an incredible amount of perspective you can achieve by taking a Zen attitude towards even the most menial jobs. People feel like they most always be intellectually productive, but there’s so much benefit to doing tasks and emptying your mind.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      The concept of doing rote tasks to clear one’s mind resonates deeply with me. It’s one of the reasons why I actually enjoy cleaning the house (most of the time…). I am very present in my cleaning and I’m simply moving my body around, doing one productive thing after another. I’m not worrying about anything, I’m not being particularly strategic, I’m just cleaning. I agree with you–does a person good.

  45. Athena says:

    I love the fact that you guys in source everything and work really hard to be a team. I think that’s what a lot of couples forget in the grand scheme of things. I have a life outside of my partner but I wanted to be in a relationship where it’s a partnership. I’m happy to say that I do have that. Not only do we do projects together like the Plutus Awards, we also spend time together going on dates outside of the home and chores! It’s easier to remember your a team. 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s wonderful that you and your partner collaborate on so many different projects! It really is rewarding to work together 🙂

  46. Jessica says:

    We’ve pretty much divided up chores over the years, but sometimes we’re lazy about getting around to them. I really agree with what you said about enjoying taking care of things for Mr. FW and appreciate the things he handles for you. I do all of the laundry and most of the cooking because I really enjoy doing those things. My husband has been kind enough to tackle the things I hate, like loading the dishwasher and cleaning the bathrooms. The rest of the tasks were somewhat randomly adopted by one of us, are alternated between us or we do together. It’s very helpful having assigned duties and not needing to argue about it, though we sometimes bicker about the frequency of handling chores. It’s a work in progress. 😉

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s very sweet of your husband to take the chores you hate–I’m with you, those actions are so deeply meaningful! Life is always a work in progress (at least it is for me!) 😉

  47. Chonce says:

    We don’t outsource either. When we got together my bf knew nothing about cleaning up properly, organizing, preparing meals (without the microwave) and other tasks around the house. I taught him as best as I could and he was happy to learn. We both work and pick up the slack around the house for each other. I personally love working, and could never see myself as a homemaker (no offense to anyone who is an enjoys it because it’s certainly hard work) and him as the sole breadwinner. But everyone’s relationship is different and this just works for us.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s wonderful that he was a willing and eager learner–makes all the difference! And, sounds like you’ve got a great system going on 🙂

  48. We’re good at managing the division of labor, but I feel like we got a bit lucky that it just came naturally to us. We’re almost perfectly paired to work together in that, my spouse enjoys or doesn’t mind nearly all the tasks I hate doing and vice-versa. We each handle the tasks that we like or feel good about doing, and don’t worry if it’s a pure 50/50 split on workload. Well, until it comes to the few things we BOTH don’t like (cleaning the litterbox, anyone?) and then we try to divide those chores as evenly as possible 🙂 It’s a system that keeps us both happy and, of course as you pointed out, saves money too!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Sounds perfect! I like the idea of each doing the tasks you feel good about doing–makes sense to focus on each person’s strengths. And, I’d want a pass on a litterbox too!

  49. L says:

    Great post! We do not have children and we will outsource the child care after my mat leave is up so that so we can both maintain our jobs when the time comes, but other then that if we can do it we do! We are both from different cultures (east cost of Canada vs. Eastern Europe) but both cultures typically do everything they can themselves. Most of my colleagues were amazed my fiance and his father built our deck instead of paying someone to do it! I provided the beer and food..not so much on helping with the actual deck building. We will finish painting the main floor of our house this month and we will not be paying someone to do that. I can’t imagine paying someone to do something that we can ourselves. If the time comes that we cannot shovel our own driveway, due to illness or oldness (ha!), then we will pay someone to do it.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’m with you–I can’t imagine paying people to do stuff I’m able to do myself! Definitely makes sense to outsource when it’s necessary, but otherwise, I’d rather do it myself. That’s awesome that your husband and father-in-law built your deck!

  50. We outsource a few things because if we didn’t, they wouldn’t get done – things like cleaning 🙂 We’re OK cleaning the kitchen, but both of us hate cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming, so we pay for it. I don’t know what the damage will be at the new place, but it was $150/mth in the DC area, and we considered it well worth it! We insource cooking (for the most part), and some DIY tasks. There are areas where we know we don’t know enough and hire out, but I’m usually watching the contractor like a hawk and asking all kinds of annoying questions on how to do things.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I think it’s all about finding that balance of insource vs. outsource that works best for you. Sounds like you’ve got a good system going on!

  51. I’m all for the division of labor in a household, but I think some tasks should be outsourced so families can spend better quality time together. Yard work is high on my list. I’d rather be doing anything else than pulling weeds and other such yard work, and happily pay someone to do it and spend my time doing something with my family.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Makes sense! We enjoy doing the work together, but, I’m sure the dynamics will change once we have kids 🙂

  52. Part of the reason you don’t outsource is probably because you don’t have children. When you have kids, you might find that you would rather spend those few hours after school and before bedtime with your kids vs. cleaning or doing some other task. That’s basically what happened to us. I never hired someone to clean my home until this year, and I’m 35! But I eventually found that I would rather have more family time than spend that 4 or 5 hours deep cleaning each month. Kids are only young once.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Totally makes sense! I know that our whole routine/process will have to change once we have mini-Frugalwoods 🙂

    • middle class says:

      I totally agree with Holly. Once I had kids, I was happy to outsource cleaning as much as possible. We can’t afford it all the time and little daily chores take up a lot of time but on the Saturdays that we have cleaning help, I have so much more energy to play with the kids and relax!

      • Ben says:

        It’s hard when your kids are really young, but our family has a “chore jar” filled with slips of paper—each one with a different chore written on it. Every Saturday morning we each take 2 “chores” out of the jar and knock out the work so we can enjoy the rest of our day. With two adults and three kids working, you’d be surprised at how much you can get done in an hour.

  53. You’re lucky to have found the right one. Please do what it takes Frugalwoods to save your marriage, I know you would. Appreciate, spend more time, and have fun! Cheers for more good and fulfilling years!

  54. Kiwi says:

    Just found your website and this is the first article I read. I am surprised that so many people are learning stuff that used to be second nature, eg painting, sewing, digging drains etc. me and the missus just automatically assist with any chores that need doing. I mostly do heavier work and missus does cooking and bits, but I do some cooking & cleaning and missus is happy to dig the vege garden or paint something.
    BTW we’ve been married 30+ years and we work together and have raised 3 kids on the way.
    Now seeking FI – hopefully only 2-3 years away.
    Trust in your abilities, learn and consume less.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Well said, Kiwi! I think the art of self-sufficiency is waning in our culture and it’s wonderful to hear from someone who has been doing it for years. Thank you for sharing!

  55. Love this and love you guys!!! I think it’s great you’ve found a way to work out the cleaning issues. That’s always been a source of frustration for us too. We keep a daily chore list and it’s helped a lot esp since having the kids. We outsource deep cleaning to a housekeeper and I resisted so long but she helps us so much with the craziness and we love having her. I also outsource a ton with my business. Right up until I had the twins I was managing everything myself like a ninja but after having them, stuff started falling through the cracks and I miss important e-mails and the disorganization that came with all that was making me lose money so it helped me to delegate out the tasks to other competent people. Over time, maybe things will change as our kids grow and schedules change. For now, I feel like we’re still in survival mode. But I love how you two work together and have such a sweet relationship!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Aww, thank you Cat! I think your outsourcing is wise and totally makes sense–especially for the stage of life you’re in with your little kiddos. I know that our whole routine/system will change once we have mini-Frugalwoods ;).

  56. Another thing that really helps? Thanking the person. My husband wanted me to do this, and it rankled me. I mean, you’re supposed to do it! Why would I thank you?

    But then he started thanking me when I did stuff. It makes a surprising difference. I think it could ease a lot of tensions if people just expressed gratitude.

    That said, we have health problems that have caused us to outsource stuff like getting water. Phoenix tap water is absolutely disgusting. I’ve tried to drink it. I’ve tried to drink filtered water. Still gag.

    But I insisted on our filling the jugs ourselves ($6 vs $30 a month). Over the past year, though, our health problems have been kicking us in the butt. So after five years of nagging and pleading, my husband is finally getting water delivered. We split the cost with the in-laws in the guest house, which helps a bit.

    And heck, if I could get someone to come clean our house for $100 a month, I’d totally do it! But the cost is much closer by $300-400. For that much, I’ll sit in the dirt thankyouverymuch.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Great point about showing gratitude! That’s such a key component, I agree. We always thank each other and it does foster an environment of respect. I pulled that $100/month for cleaning out of thin air, so I’m not at all surprised to hear that it’s actually more expensive. I’d rather sit in the dirt too :).

  57. NZ Muse says:

    Totally sympathise. Housework has often been a sticking point for us – such different standards of cleanliness (visit his family at home and you’ll understand…) For us it’s about playing to our own strengths and then doing some other chores together, as a team.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Playing to your strengths absolutely makes sense! I think it’s all about figuring out what works best for you both.

  58. catherine says:

    Though I had never really thought of it this way, Mike and I are also a little ”old school” when it comes to this stuff. We both work full-time with a kid and the only outsourcing we do is daycare- a necessity to have if we both want to work. We also work on projects together and both clean. We’ve sort of fallen into a mode of him taking care of the basement while I do upstairs- it works. While i do most of the cooking he does take the reins occasionally. I’m way more of a control freak when it comes to cleaning (mostly the laundry) which I recognize so I do a little more of the housework 100% by choice (not complaining). He gets the grocies after we meal plan together. It’s not about splitting everything 50/50. We both contribute equally to the house in different ways 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Sounds like you two have a good system worked out. And, that’s awesome that you only outsource daycare–nice!!

  59. Great post! We insource all of our chores as well. We lived together before we got married so we shared chores even before marriage. In the kitchen I do the cooking and Mrs. Enchumbao cleans my mess. 🙂 I don’t like folding clothes so even though I help with laundry she folds them after they’re done. We feel the same as you, not only we save money but we build skills along the way and it feels to get down and dirty. I rather spend time doing these things instead of being tied up to a cubicle for more years.

  60. I love cutting the grass and doing the gardening. I’m sure I can afford to hire someone to do it (my lawn isn’t huge), but it’s nice to get down on your hands and knees every once in a while. I find that gardening helps calm my emotions when I’m stressed or angry.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Makes sense to me! I also really enjoy doing physical, hands-on work–it’s a great change of pace and a good stress reliever for sue.

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