Outsourcing seems glamorous and brings to mind a hive of activity somewhere with people doing your bidding. I look at outsourcing as something that another person or thing does so that I don’t have to. I am going to disregard most of the modern household appliances and computers, because most people wouldn’t consider this true outsourcing. But here are the ones outside of those categories:
I detest grocery shopping in crowded stores. I am prone to impulse purchases. I always seem to forget something important. And I never have that pesky little discount card with me. About three years ago, a local grocery store offered online shopping. You enter the list, they pull the items, you go in, pay and load everything into your car. What I found was that they routinely missed items on the list, confused types of produce, and sometime added things on I didn’t ask for.
I was searching for a better way when I found my personal shopper. This woman has brought my groceries to the house for the last two years. There has never been a mistake, the produce is always fresh, and she can find the weirdest things I ask for. I am content to have her do my shopping. It may cost more, but my grocery bills are lower (discount card and no impulse purchases), and it is done well.
I have a small child. The last time I moved her carseat, I found what looked like the remains of a package of saltines that had exploded. I’m not sure what it was, because we don’t eat in the car. The windows were coated with something that looked like honey, and there was an unknown substance stuck to the back seat. I am not particularly good at cleaning cars. I leave streaks on the windows, and the whole process can eat up an afternoon.
One afternoon, a mobile detailing service came to my work. For a reasonable fee (and I tipped them 100% because of the state of the car), they got the car spotless. Now for that same small fee, they come and clean out my car…wash, wax, windows, vacuum and shampoo the rugs. I get to work at what I am good at, and they leave me with something I can have people sit in.
I outsource my vacuuming. Not to a cleaning service, but to a robot. While not without their quirks, I have used Roomba robotic vacuums for four years. The latest generation knows what areas need to be done and when, vacuum and return themselves to recharge. Living in a house with two allergic humans, two felines and one dog, floor care is an essential. The robot takes care of it for me.
Birthday Reminders and Cards
Fed up with the high prices of cards in the stores in the malls, and not liking the quality of the cards in the discount places, I decided to see what was available online. For a small yearly fee (less than what I would spend on half my cards in a shop), American Greetings allows me to track events, and either print out cards from their selection, or they will print and send the cards for a fee. for those of my friends who consider snail mail a waste of resources, I can also send email greetings scheduled up to a year in advance.
This one has been around for a long time. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a check. But my outsourcing of bills isn’t limited to online services. I let my accountant handle the bills. It works better that way. (I’ll admit up front here that my partner is a CPA and this particular item is tongue-in-cheek)
One of the things about having someone do my grocery shopping requires that I be organized. I have to give the shopper a list. Having a list means I have to have some idea of what we are going to be eating. This means I have to do a menu plan. I have software to help me do this (Mastercook), but I still find it tedious. About two years ago I discovered SavingDinner.com. Run by a certified nutritionist, I had a different menu delivered to my email box every week along with recommended side dishes and a complete shopping list. She also has two cookbooks out that have the same thing. All the meals are nutritionally sound, and well balanced, and 99% of the ones I have tried taste better than most restaurant food (there was one fish recipe that was awful, but it may have been the fish)
As much as I can, I also outsource my cooking. By using my crockpot as much as possible, the majority of our meals are done when I get home from work. I also use the Mega Menus from SavingDinner.com, which allows me to assemble 28 meals in a few hours and put them in the freezer for later.