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Why I’ve Hired a Maid Service

This article was written by in Organization and Productivity. 26 comments.


For almost two months, I’ve been paying a maid service. After the initial cleaning, I waited a few weeks, and then set up a recurring appointment for a cleaning once every two weeks. For years leading up to this arrangement, I’ve balked at hiring a cleaning service. Cleaning is not a particularly difficult task, and this is not by any means a necessary expense. Furthermore, I live only with my cat. I do not have a family to look after. When first thinking about bringing in professionals, it seemed excessive.

Several months ago, I decided it was time to bring in the professionals. I had two full-time jobs that left little time for tasks like vacuuming and scrubbing the bathroom. I asked friends and co-workers living in the area for cleaning service recommendations, but this yielded no results. I turned to the internet for suggestions, and I decided to give Maids.com a try. There is a relatively local office. I called, the company provided an estimate based on my description of my apartment, and we arranged an initial visit.

The initial visit consisted of a deeper cleaning and allows the maids to determine the scope of the job. The cleaning is deeper than usual based on the assumption that this might be the first time the location was professionally cleaned, and regular upkeep would help reduce future cleaning needs. A team of four spent an hour and a half during that initial visit handling the dirty work. They did a good job, particularly in the bathroom and kitchen. However, living with a cat, the apartment never feels fully clean without cleaning the carpets. I quickly steamed some of the more troubling spots after the maids left and was pleasantly satisfied with the apartment’s appearance.

I waited several weeks before inviting the maids back, but when I did, I agreed to a reduced price by arranging a visit every two weeks. The knowledge that the maids will be arriving within days motivates me to keep the apartment tidier throughout the week. If there is no need to clean, I could still cancel a cleaning without increasing the price. At the same time, if I found myself in the position of needing to reduce my expenses, this would be one of the first luxuries to be eliminated.

There’s often a psychological barrier that stops someone from paying for a service one could do on one’s own. Some people refuse to pay for financial advice, some don’t think it makes sense to pay someone to clean a house, and some don’t want to call the plumber when there’s a problem with the pipes. It’s not always psychological, either. Hiring a professional costs money that might not be immediately available. Some people prefer taking a do-it-yourself approach to their lives, and that’s an admirable attitude. The psychological barrier comes in the thought that it isn’t worthwhile to pay someone to do something you could do yourself.

In my case, my time is valuable, and I’m sure most people have the same opinion of their time, as well. My effort is better spent working on a project or enjoying my life than scrubbing toilets. I’m not completely averse to this type of labor; I’ll do it, but I have found that it’s worthwhile for me to hire professionals who do it better and more efficiently, while my time is free to concentrate on other aspects of my life and business.

On Twitter, @27andfrugal asked how I was able to fit this expense into my budget. This cleaning service adds up to about $250 on a monthly basis. I understand that this is a price many people would not be able to pay for a service they could theoretically manage without hiring professionals. I consider myself fortunate that I can handle this expense without much detrimental effect on my finances. The $250 comes out of my net savings. This is $250 less each month I won’t have in savings, which, depending on interest rates, could add up to tens or even a hundred thousand dollars over the next thirty years. Of course, looking at that view, it’s harder to make the argument that the expense is worthwhile, but these are the caveats:

  • I can make up some of that theoretical loss with increased productivity.
  • My quality of life increases, and that has a value that’s hard to pin down with financial terms.

Cleaning is one task of several I hope to outsource. My next step is to find a virtual assistant to help keep me organized from a business perspective.

Published or updated April 27, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Steve

I am working on hiring a service as well. I also have that barrier to paying someone to do something I could easily do myself. In my case an additional problem is: in theory I could do it myself, but in practice I don’t get around to it. Often my home is less clean than I would prefer.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

I understand what you have said but I am one of those people with a psychological barrier to hiring somebody to do something that I can and should do. There is three people at my house with the inclusion of my brother and we all work full time jobs. I have threatened to do this in the past but never followed up. I think that I will revisit the idea.

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avatar Dina

I had problems with “can” and “should” at first, too. Once I focused on the reality that I’m too exhausted in the evenings to do it after work, and approximately $200/month could by me both a cleaner house than I’m living in and 4-6 hours a week of “extra” weekend time, it was easy to make it a budget priority.

If it ever gets tough on my budget, I’ll spend those extra 4-6 hours EARNING. From now on, the cleaning experts clean my house, and I focus my expertise on the things I’m good at!

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avatar Ceecee ♦796 (Dime)

It is a great treat to come home to a really clean house. But it is a luxury, I agree. I have cleaned for people a few times….just for extra money. It is easier to clean someone else’s place than your own—don’t know why.

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avatar Kathryn C

My parents got divorced when I was little and my mom had her own business so she hired a housekeeper to do a lot of the house stuff. The housekeeper cooked, cleaned etc; she did everything my mom didn’t have time to do because she was running her business.

My mom got home from work and she could spend time with me and my brother because she didn’t have a list of house duties she had to do. If you can afford a housekeeper (which is a luxury), I’m a big fan. You can spend time doing more productive things, or simple things like hanging out with your family.

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avatar SteveDH

My wife has been cleaning our house for some 43 years now, even when she had another job. The letter from Social Security actually broke out the amount of her check that was from her earnings (FICA) and the amount accumulated from “being a spouse” We had a big laugh over that one!!
“Wow” she said, “I’m finally being paid for the damn house work.” The quality of life has improved though as now I oftentimes give her a hand with it.

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avatar leslie

Thanks for adding the financial piece. I have never had the psychological barrier for things like that but the cost factor is difficult to get past.

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avatar Paula @ AffordAnything.org

I’m a huge fan of spending money deliberately, with thought and consideration, on things that will improve your quality of life. You’ve done exactly this. Cheers to you!!

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avatar wylerassociate ♦906 (Dime)

I agree with flexo about psychological barriers that would prevent someone from hiring a maid service to clean a house. I wouldn’t order a maid service not just because of the cost but i’m someone who wants to clean my own place. I am curious about the virtual assistant, have people who’ve used virtual assistants had positive experiences?

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avatar Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

Oh! A virtual assistant? I can’t wait to read more about that decision and process.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

yes, this is something i am looking forward to as well.

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avatar Pat S

I can see the argument for hiring a maid service, but can’t quite swing the expense at this juncture.

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avatar qixx ♦1,815 (Half-Dollar)

I wish this is something i could afford. I guess i just choose to spend my discretionary funds elsewhere (on concert tickets). Glad to see you are willing to put your money on something you have deemed worth the cost and a priority.

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avatar Tony

Flexo: It’s hard for me to understand the decision to hire the maids now, I would understand this decision when you had a fulltime job, but now your only job is this blog so I thought you would have more time in your hands, not less. Could you elaborate?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,373 (Platinum)

Good question. I should have hired a cleaning service sooner. It takes them one quarter of the time it would take me to do the same work. It’s worth the money to keep my time and effort focused on Consumerism Commentary and other projects and interests.

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avatar Steve

Actually it makes a lot of sense to me.

As an employee with a full time job, your opportunities to use your time to earn money are fairly limited. Even if your job pays you for overtime (which many don’t), it’s like you can work as much as you want whenever you want. Of course one can always start a side business or other secondary income stream, which requires breaking out of the “employee” mindset.

When you work for yourself, (I assume) you become acutely aware of the money-to-time tradeoff and can tweak it in one direction or the other.

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avatar somyguy

Maid service is one of the best non-essential expenditures my wife and I have ever made. Honestly, if push came to shove, I would cancel cable TV before maid service (although cable is only about half the cost). There is some interesting psychological research out there suggesting that outsourcing rote/boring chores (e.g., paying someone to clean your home) contributes significantly to marital harmony. I tend to agree.

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦2,453 (Dollar)

Good for you! I think a lot of people could benefit from a service vs. letting dirt pile up until it takes them twice as long to clean it themselves (and to do it no matter how tired/frazzled they are). Having a clean, well-ordered place is probably conducive to getting your work done.
But if you’re paying $125 every two weeks, wow, that’s steeper than I thought it would be. I’ve got a cousin who charges $35 for a basic cleaning. Of course, that’s South Jersey and you’re in Central Jersey.
Still: If you want my $0.02, it’s worth every penny.

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avatar Investor Junkie

Seemed like a no brainer to me, but then again we’ve had for six years now. It’s an important task that should be taken care of. If your hourly rate is higher than paying someone else to do it, then you should hire someone to do it. I don’t get “hung” up on the psychological aspect. If anything you are help someone else with an income.

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avatar Barb Friedberg

Hi Flexo, As I devoted more and more time to my site, I also broke down and hired cleaning help. There are always tradeoffs to every decision. Money vs. time is a big one. For me, I’m always evaluating and attempting to maximize my time!!

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avatar Cincinnati Maid

This is a personal finance article I can cheer! ;) From the cleaner’s view, the quality of life is generally the most common reason people get cleaning, with most of the remaining customers getting cleaning service from the rational financial viewpoint – they can create greater value with the time saved than it costs to get cleaning. Most of these customers outsource all home service jobs – cleaning, lawn mowing, various repairs..

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avatar Bucksome Boomer ♦236 (Cent)

I should hire someone because I hate cleaning house. Like Steve, it’s not as clean as I would like most of the time. Good for you; but it does see kinda high for every other week.

P.S. Like Jenna I’m looking forward to reading about your virtual assistant hiring when you’re redy to share.

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avatar Hilary Brooks - Virtual Assistant

Happy to hear you’re considering a virtual assistant to help organize your biz! Like a few of the other folks above, I look forward to hearing more about your experiences with this, too. It’s always very interesting to me to learn more about what the client is thinking/considering when selecting their VA.

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avatar Get Out of Debt Guy

I totally agree, it’s a wise investment and use of your time to make this investment. When time is in short supply, as is with my days, anything I can hand off to someone else who can do a better job at it, in the long run benefits me and my readers.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that as long as you can fit it in financially, creating a life worth living and brings you joy is the balance most seek.

Steve

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avatar Heather M

Yay! Very well-said. I am a cleaning service owner and have been seeing this a lot, as times are getting tighter for the underemployed and overworked alike. I approached the psychological barrier to cleaning services by offering tiered service rates; deep cleans, upkeep cleans in addition to the regular services. Sometimes it’s hard to justify the expense and the worth!

That said, Flexo, I have been refining a theory lately that all of the people working twice as many hours to cover for half their missing (laid-off) coworkers, or that second job, basically have all of their cleaning decimated to a few minutes a day, and then heaved over into their precious weekends and days off. And let’s face it, even for a cleaning service owner, being at home is FILLED with distractions, especially (and this is often overlooked) by people who work at home.

My office is at home and it rarely gets cleaned as thoroughly as I clean our clients’ homes because I am always concentrating on something else while I’m here, or (this is a psychological barrier, in itself) I know I am going to be here! ”It’s not going anywhere.” That’s another battle, though.

Bottom line is: 2 hours of 2 people’s fresh, clear intent can do wonders for your quality of living, as compared to a whole day (weekends, usually for the full-time/OT employed) of distracted, multi-tasking upkeep. I think the question is the service, and are they worth your hard-earned money?

Good for you!

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avatar susan dickerman

I am writing in reference to RHODES RANCH MAID SERVICE ALSO KNOWN AS SOUTHERN HIGHLAND MAIDS AND SUMMERLIN MAIDS> please don’t get sucked in. they offer free landscaping if you use maid service bi monthly. the absolute worst. the landscapers are terrible. the maids worse. I could write a book but just please take my word. it isn’t worth the aggrevation. if anybody wants details I will gladly give in a message or telephone call. there are too many complaints to list.

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