This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

This week is just one of those weeks for me that is going to cost a bit of money to get through.  I am in need of three service people in order to look after the stuff I own.  In the first case, I need to get my brakes checked as well as my winter tires switched to summer (since I think winter is done here in Ontario now).  Secondly, for one reason or another my main computer decided it didn’t want to start.  This sounds like a “rich person problem”, that I have to do things like my homework and write this post on my second computer, but that’s the case.  Finally, there is a small leak somewhere above my kitchen that I need to call a plumber about before my bathtub upstairs ends up on top of my stove downstairs.

All three of these repair and maintenance tasks I could probably figure out for myself, either by reading books or watching you tube videos (which I have found to be an excellent resource in most home improvement or mechanical problems in the past).  My issue right now is that I don’t really have the time to figure out the problem and fix it.  I need to get my tires changed anyways, so I might as well get the brakes checked while they already have the tires off.  I found a University kid on Kijiji who said he could diagnose any computer problem for $20.  Finally, I think it would just be easier to get a plumber in to check the pipe, as I have minimal experience in plumbing and I would prefer that the job was done correctly.

One solution to these issues is to have less stuff – get rid of the car, and the computer, and get a house that I can maintain on my own (which I think is an excellent argument for a Tiny House).  This reduction would automatically reduce maintenance costs and would probably allow us to live someplace smaller.

A second option would be to make the time to fix these (seemingly) simple things.  Right now I have school (finishing up my CGA courses) and a full time job, leaving just enough time to hang out with my wife and see the odd friend once in a while.  I am hoping that in retirement the gain in time will allow me to do some of this stuff myself.

For now though, the tradeoff seems reasonable – I try to fix the really simple stuff that won’t take too long and outsource the rest.  I try to find dependable people for the things that need it like the plumbing and my car  (I’m not too worried about my computer problem, hence the Kijiji search for “cheap computer repairs”) or make do without or attempt repairs on my own.

What do you outsource?  Do you think if you had more time, you’d do more of your own repairs or home improvement?

7 thoughts on “Outsourcing”

  1. Very little. Hard to be thrifty and outsource. But, I am retired now so I have more time. The first thing I do before I purchase something new is to determine what maintenance needs to be done, can or am I willing to do it myself, how much the cost is, and is all this worth what I get out of the item. We have one truck, and for the most part I let the mechanic handle it, but I do the oil changes, change the tires, and if its nice out, almost anything that doesn’t involve the use of special tools. Nothing else I own needs or will need a service man, including the house. We built it with our own hands, so we know it well. The refit on our boat is being done by us, although if the diesel needed major work, I would probably take it to an expert. My theory is that if you can’t maintain it by yourself, seriously consider whether you need it or not, and if you do, figure in the cost of ownership to budget, and figure it high.

  2. We do all of our own car repairs, home repairs and computer repairs. We barely outsource anything. The problem is that when it rains, it pours. It always seems like things break down all at once and that always happens whenever there is extra earning potential. For example, we have an opportunity to work huge overtime about 3 times a year. Without fail, the car always breaks down around that time, something always goes wrong with the house, the power supply on teh computer will go and someone else will want to hire my husband to install a laminate floor. So frustrating.
    Also- YouTube is a handy man’s most important tool. 🙂

  3. As little as possible.

    I look at the rate I’d pay a service person/organisation (generally $75 to $150 per hour), factor in the taxes I’ve already paid on my income (so let’s make the numbers $100 to $200 per hour), consider that a change is as good as a rest, and view me doing the work as a very well paid vacation 🙂

    Those numbers even justify purchasing some special tools.

  4. My hubby is handy as well as handsome….and I have done my fair share of “McGyvers” around the house.
    After building 3 homes, renovating 3, and building a basement suite in our new house (oh, and finishing the pile of rocks and dirt in the back into a gorgeous backyard) we sort of know how to do just about everything….and cars, well hubby does all that.
    One thing we stay away from is major plumbing–although we know it is easy stuff, the ramifications of doing it wrong are just too much to bear…..
    Don’t have a clue about computers though…have you tried just smacking it?

  5. I try to outsource as little as possible.

    I’m lucky to work in the trades and know enough people to get anything fixed for the price of a bottle or a discount cash price.

    As for your computer problem: if the computer doesn’t even turn on open the case with the power on. If you don’t see any lights or LEDs on then it’s the power source and can be replaced for $50-100 depending on what the wattage is.

  6. @ Rob – I agree – I generally factor in the maintenance costs on things I’m buying, which generally leads me away from cheap products and towards quality, which either means minimal upkeep or relatively easy maintenance (other than my car). At some point I would love to build my own house, but for now I would rather pay someone and watch what they’re doing – I have never done any sort of plumbing repair and would rather not botch it.

    @ Marianne – I can generally do most home repairs, and I built the computer that broke, I just couldn’t diagnose the issue (even with you tube).

    @ Nerode – I am currently explaining to my wife that it would be cheaper for me to buy the tools needed to build a deck than it would be to hire someone to come and do it….maybe slower, but I like to do stuff like that.

    @ lorain – I did try smacking it…didn’t work. I’m hoping to learn something about vehicle repair and maintenance after I’m done with my accounting courses.

    @ Steve – I thought it was the power source, but it turned out to be my cord…a much cheaper fix, the problem was is I didn’t know if it was the cord or power supply – ended up costing me $20 to pay a University kid to diagnose….fairly reasonable.

  7. Wow – I probably outsource a lot more than I should. I will try to fix a computer probably myself, but only if it’s simple. I don’t really do anything on the car. And we had someone else come put a railing in. I try to do the simple things myself, and well.outsource everything else! 🙂

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