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#1 Mon, 03/11/2014 - 10:45

Outsourcing/Automating Household Chores

This is something that I have been trying to research/implement lately with some success and thought of creating a thread for the TopBargains community to share ideas.

Challenge: 2 growing kids, increasing work responsibilities for both full time working parents and little or no time in the end for things that matter. From talking to other parents, it seems like almost everyone has similar challenges.

Idea: To see how much time we are spending on household chores and cut that time as much as possible by automating things or outsourcing them to someone and funding the cost of outsourcing through finding savings.

What has worked so far:

  • Using online grocery services - This has saved us at-least 3-4 hours each week. We have started using Woolworths online and while prices might be a bit more compared to ALDI or Costco on individual items, we are saving a lot more because we know now exactly what we need each week, can plan purchases around weekly specials and as we make a point to empty the fridge ahead of weekly delivery, there's almost zero waste. Ultimately, the goal would be to move 100% off of shopping spend to online (better prices, fewer impulsive buys, plenty of time to research etc.).
  • Using an online laundry service - We have used a couple of online laundry pick up and delivery services with moderate success. For business shirts, it costs around $3 per shirt and while this may add up at the end of each month, you can save at-least 2-3 hours each week or more. For frequently used clothes like kids uniforms, it is a good idea to buy multiple items so that you can get all of them washed and ironed before the week starts without having to worry about doing laundry or ironing during the week.
  • Investing into Robot Vacuum Cleaning - We have been using an iRobot Roomba for last couple of years and I am now contemplating an upgrade to latest 880 model. These robots are great and will cut the vacuuming time by 80-90%, easily saving you 1-2 hours per week.
  • Hiring House Cleaners - We have had moderate success using professional cleaners. Like with any other situation where human work is involved, success largely depends on finding someone who's efficient and reliable. We tried hiring someone to do both ironing and cleaning but using a dry cleaning services comes out a bit cheaper in the end. So our current plan is to let Roomba run around the home during the week and then get someone for 1-2 hours every week for cleaning chores Roomba can't do yet.
  • Cooking - This is one of the most time consuming chores of all and it's very hard to outsource it without having to order restaurant food. With some research, we found a lady who can cook a few of our weekly meals (customized to our specifications) and deliver them each week saving us 4-5 hours of work per week. This can come out cheaper than ordering from Domino's but requires a lot of hard work in finding someone who's reliable, clean and trustworthy. Gumtree is the way to get started but it can take a few bad experiences before you find someone good.
  • Expense Management - We have put all bills on direct debit and now use Pocketbook to keep an eye on expenses to make sure we are not being double-charged or being hit by fees etc. and this has been working very well. Time saved, 1-2 hours per week and no more late fees or missed bills.

Next on the list:

  • Finding a reliable mobile car wash for monthly car wash routine.
  • Researching about Roomba floor mopping version and get it to work with Australian power supply.
  • Finding a part time housekeeper for 3-4 days (to be funded by savings on kids child care/after school care fees and other chores).
  • Outsourcing or automating garden work and fish tank maintenance.

Look forward to other ideas/tips from members.

Cheers
KB



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Mon, 03/11/2014 - 16:22

Using online grocery services - I do this but don't trust them to pick out my fruit and veggies. I also find that I have to go and pick up at the store, wait for my order to be retrieved and then check it so I can fix their stupid mistakes while I'm there (ie substituted items/flavours where I have marked no substitution, incorrect items or missing items). I've had too many annoyances arising from deliveries to make it worthwhile or trust the process, which is disappointing. This is probably a reflection of the standard of my local Woolworths rather than Woolworths nationally, and I haven't tried Coles.

Using an online laundry service - I can see the appeal of this for ironing (which I hate), but personally I don't find that washing gets in the way much because I just throw in a load while I'm doing something else, then bundle it into the dryer or hang it up. The key is doing loads during the week rather than letting it all mount up for weekends, because if I am doing 4 loads on a Saturday morning then it's a bit annoying.

Hiring House Cleaners - we have a professional cleaner once every 3 weeks to do a very thorough clean, and I just do minor things in between (like wiping over bathroom and kitchen areas, cleaning toilets, sweeping floors).

Cooking - a good idea which I heard a friend mention is getting a group together to each cook a large, easily freezable meal, and then exchanging portions. This means you'd cook 1 large batch of a meal, and would exchange family sized portions with other group members and end up with 4-5 different meals which can be frozen. Obviously you'd need a willing and like minded group of friends, and enough freezer space.



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Mon, 03/11/2014 - 17:48

lisss wrote:
I do this but don't trust them to pick out my fruit and veggies. I also find that I have to go and pick up at the store, wait for my order to be retrieved and then check it so I can fix their stupid mistakes while I'm there (ie substituted items/flavours where I have marked no substitution, incorrect items or missing items).

We have similar bad experiences from time to time but now we try to order bags of fruits & veges like 1 KG apple in a bag to avoid getting left overs from the shelves. Ofcourse, it is still not as good as picking yourself.

lisss wrote:

Cooking - a good idea which I heard a friend mention is getting a group together to each cook a large, easily freezable meal, and then exchanging portions. This means you'd cook 1 large batch of a meal, and would exchange family sized portions with other group members and end up with 4-5 different meals which can be frozen. Obviously you'd need a willing and like minded group of friends, and enough freezer space.

I can't see this saving a lot of time though (because of all the coordination required) but it will be great for saving money and trying new dishes plus making friends etc..



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Tue, 04/11/2014 - 22:55

just a quick one regarding the ironing washing, i only use non iron business shirts, wash on short cycle and hang them up straight away = they work so well, i currently use tmlewin non iron business shirts 5/6 days a week

haven't used an iron in a long time



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Wed, 05/11/2014 - 11:47

KB wrote:

I can't see this saving a lot of time though (because of all the coordination required) but it will be great for saving money and trying new dishes plus making friends etc..

I would co-ordinate by email from work, so it wouldn't bother me. If you were worried about co-ordination you could even just do it with one other person and split the batch in 1/2 each.



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Wed, 05/11/2014 - 12:50

lisss wrote:

I would co-ordinate by email from work, so it wouldn't bother me. If you were worried about co-ordination you could even just do it with one other person and split the batch in 1/2 each.

Good idea. May be someone can come with an app to help with coordination but I am sure there's already one.



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Thu, 20/11/2014 - 00:45

Investing into Robot Vacuum Cleaning - Bought myself the iRobot Roomba 630 two weeks ago and have been so happy with the decision to fork out. Besides getting rid of my pet hate of pet hair (excuse the pun) all over the floors, it also means our cleaner can focus on other chores rather than having to spend time vacuuming when she comes in.

Hiring House Cleaners - And as far as a cleaner goes, don't think our family could live without one. It's the biggest personal/free time saver and worth every single cent, as far as my wife and I are concerned.

Cooking - Have found Hello Fresh to be a good option, with their home delivery service. You still have to prepare meals, but there's no time wasted trying to come up with ideas for dinner (as you have all the recipes and ingredients ready to cook) plus it actually works out cheaper in the long run as you don't end up making as many impulse or "random item" purchases at the supermarket like you normally would.



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Thu, 20/11/2014 - 09:27

mikeman wrote:

Cooking - Have found Hello Fresh to be a good option, with their home delivery service. You still have to prepare meals, but there's no time wasted trying to come up with ideas for dinner (as you have all the recipes and ingredients ready to cook) plus it actually works out cheaper in the long run as you don't end up making as many impulse or "random item" purchases at the supermarket like you normally would.

I would try Hello Fresh at some point but it comes out to be around $10 per person per meal which is a bit pricey. I like 'subscription' box services such as Dollar Shave Club but their prices are a lot cheaper than supermarket prices.

For a family of 4, Hello Fresh would charge you $800 for 20 meals per month and I don't think we currently spend that much on cooking ingredients every month despite buying more expensive options (grass fed meat, organic/gluten free/free range ingredients) most of the times.



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Wed, 26/11/2014 - 17:56

The robot vacuum (Neato in our case) and the floor mopping recent addition to the family (iRobot Braava) have both been very successful. They don't totally remove the requirement to manually vacuum/wash floors but they definitely reduce the frequency required plus seem to keep the place just that little bit cleaner. We too have tried hiring cleaners, but reliability quality and cost have all been issues. Although not outsourcing, I also got a Karcher window cleaner which initially I thought would be a toy but turns out to be a very quick and effective way of washing the windows.

Our kids are getting older, so a number of tasks are being outsourced to them now - packing/unpacking the dishwasher, setting & wiping down tables, etc. They get some pocket money in return, as well as start to learn a little about responsibility.



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