How much does being lazy cost you?

July 7, 2010 · 39 comments

I have a confession and you have to promise you wont judge me. Okay? Here goes…I’m kinda lazy. And boy oh boy, do I pay for that laziness. Don’t get me wrong. There are some things that I simply can’t do for myself, like fix my broken laptop, because I lack the technical knowledge to do so, but that doesn’t mean I won’t pay for someone else to do my dirty work from time to time. Here are a few examples…

Eating out:

It can definitely be a budget killer, but the convenience of having someone else prepare your meal, serve you, and then clean up your mess is just incredible. It probably doesn’t help that I’m not the greatest cook. If Ninja is in the kitchen you can almost guarantee you’ll be getting chicken and rice or a PB&J. Not the most diverse menu in my house. This is why I find myself eating out at least once or twice a week. Maybe once I get hitched. I’ll cut back on the eating out gig?

Oil Change:

So I’m pretty sure changing your cars oil is relatively easy. At least that’s what I’ve heard anyways. I wouldn’t know though since I have always taken mine to the dealership. An oil change at Toyota sets me back $24.99, but they also do a multi-point inspection, put air in my tires, and wash/vacuum my car for me. I could probably spend half that if I did it myself, but that would involve me getting dirty, and I’ll just be honest… I’m a little prissy high maintenance.

Taxes:

Like most people, I use a third party to file my taxes every year. Sure it may cost me a couple bucks each time, but not having to try and decipher those IRS forms makes it worth every penny. Plus, most third parties will fight off the IRS if they try and come back for more money.

Greeting Cards:

Yup. I’m totally the guy that spends like $3 on a stupid “Congratulations” or “Happy Birthday” card at Target. I have zero craft abilities and am pretty sure I couldn’t make a half decent “Thank you” card if my life depended on it. I need to figure something else out quick though, because these greeting cards are burning a hole through my wallet. E-cards perhaps?

Tomorrow I will counter this post with some areas of my life that I D.I.M.(Do It Myself), but for now I’m focusing on my laziness. Won’t you join me? Where do you pay for convenience? Do you have a house cleaner? Do you go to Starbucks every day? Ladies do you get your nail done frequently?

1 everyday tips

I cannot imagine changing my oil myself. Plus, I like that they top of all the fluids and check my tires. It is definitely worth the 30 bucks every 3 months.

Just about any household repair is done by a handyman-type-person. My husband just doesn’t do house repairs, and neither do I. We do all the yard work and such, but if a pipe is leaking, we get a plumber here right away because we would probably just screw something up.

2 Larry

I do my own taxes, because unless you have a complicated return you can use TurboTax online and get the same result.

I do have a cleaning service. Once a month for $90, and money well spent.

3 Jeff @ sustainablelifeblog

Eating out is definitely a big one. There are some times where I’ve got perfectly good food in the fridge, but I’m just too lazy to prepare it for myself. The worst part is, I know i’m wasting money when I do it.

That being said, I do change my own oil and do my own taxes.

4 Caitlin

We had our taxes done for last year because we’d purchased a car and my husband had a 1098-T and I just did not want to mess with that business. It was expensive, and I don’t know if we’ll go back to the same place or pony up for a copy of Turbo Tax. That all depends on what fun tax forms we get in the mail next January, I guess!

And don’t feel bad about getting your oil changed for $25. With the start up costs (the ramps, oil drain pan, tools needed, etc.) and the cost of a new filter and the necessary oil, it would cost you more than $25, PLUS you’re getting a safety inspection, air in your tires and a nice cleaning, so I’d call that a pretty sweet deal. Especially if you have nitrogen in your tires like we do. Oil changes can get a little ridiculous though, and when I hear people say they’re paying $60 for an oil change then I recommend that they just do it themselves. It’s not really that hard (or dirty) if you put the drain pan in the right place, lol.

5 Monica

Ninja, go to the dollar store to buy your cards!

6 Freckles

My thoughts exactly!

7 Kylie

Ooooh great idea! Sometimes buy blank cards on clearance (hit or miss!), then it doesn’t matter what occasion.

8 Jessica

I buy the tiny cut up carrots (the ones for snacking) for my cooking. I can’t stand to sit there peeling and cutting them. :) Stupid I know, but any bit helps.

9 psycharah

I pay for my oil changes too-like Caitlin said, for the cost of the materials, the time of learning how to do it and then actually doing it, and really, getting my clothes dirty, I’ll gladly pay the $30.

I also pay for alterations, because I’m all thumbs and haven’t the patience to learn. I know I pay through the nose, but the frustration of wrecking my clothes and my finger tips (I’ve poked myself with needles far too many time attempting this task) isn’t worth it.

10 SP

Trader Joe’s sells cards for $1. I do my own taxes because unless you have something complicated going on, it is really really really easy. Once you own a buisness or something, maybe not so much.

Though, my cheapness fights with my laziness often.

11 psycharah

I love your last sentence-I feel the same way!

12 Red

Ninja! Online tax programs make filing your taxes so easy! I’ve been doing my own since I got my first job. I use H&R Block, and it’s very simple to understand. Give it a shot! (Of course, it may be different now that I’ll be filing with someone. Boo.)

For me, my “laziness” used to cost me $25 for a pedicure every month. Sure, I could do it myself, but I’d rather let someone else do it. :-p

13 Caitlin

You might research the benefits of filing alone if your husband far outearns you. For us, it doesn’t make a difference because we both make the exact same salary. We have the maximum amount withheld (married filing at high single withholding rate) and I have an extra $22 taken monthly to avoid paying taxes in the spring. But filing as a married couple is not any more difficult than filing as a single! :)

14 Ben

I work really hard to get the best deals on oil changes when I do it myself, and I only get it down to about $9 / oil change. The real benefit for me is knowing what is going into my car as well as the satisfaction of being self sufficient. If it’s just about money, probably not worth it.

My wife makes her own greeting cards and that is definitely NOT a money saver. There are stamps, inks, paper, shape cutters and all kinds of crap that she buys to support it. Not only is it not cheap, but there are a lot of consumables that keep the money flowing.

15 Freckles

No offense to your wife … but I think scrapbooking/card making is kind of a big scam and a huge money waster.

I know most scrapbookers are female so I must point out that no, I’m not misogynistic either … I’m female too.

To me it’s nothing more that arts and crafts playtime for adults, something akin to a man presenting a “really cool” Lego contraption as a gift.

16 Freckles

Here’s my money-wasting confession, though, to counteract what I just wrote about scrapbooking.

I hate ironing, so I have been known to take spotless, clean clothes into the drycleaners just so I can get them back nicely pressed.

That’s pretty darn lazy.

17 Caitlin

A lot of drycleaners offer a pressing service that costs considerably less than a complete drycleaning! That’s what I do with my husbands shirts because I hate ironing more than anything in this world. As a matter of fact, I decided to iron yesterday to save some money/time and burned the heck out of my finger. Back to the cleaners I go!

18 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

Hahaha…here’s real laziness…my husband and I have never even plugged in an iron (well, once in college, we used it to make a grilled cheese sandwich…) and I hate running errands, so we hang the clothes in the bathroom while we take hot showers or throw them in on low heat in the dryer for 10 minutes. Really. It works pretty well but we probably aren’t the most pressed couple out there. :-)

19 Money Maus

I do all of the above…Target cards, oil change (I’m a girl), taxes (but only $15 online to file state) & manis/pedis! I like the TJ’s idea for cards and I always use coupons for oil changes to make them as cheap as possible. But I very rarely go out to eat since I love to cook! :)

20 Sandy L

Okay, I’ll only list the things we know how to do and save money but choose not to:

1. Oil changes – I used to do them when the weather was nice. Our new car is harder to get at, so now we don’t bother. I had this really quiet neighbor that never talked to us. After he saw me under the car getting dirty, he became quite friendly me and even offered me a burger.

2. Car Repairs – my husband can fix anything on a car, but he now farms it out. Too many cold nights with frozen bloody knuckles makes this a luxury well worth the dough. Plus, he gives his business to a guy’s son that works for him so we feel good about supporting that person.

3. Buying Beaters – See #2 above. Aside from the work, being stranded on a regular basis blew. And car repairs are few+far between with a good car. Hurray for the Element.

4. Cleaning Lady – 2x/month – fought this one at first, but now like it.

5. Car Wash – I have a hose..my kids may even enjoy it in the summer. This may go off the lazy list temporarily.

6. Eating Out – okay, it’s not laziness, but something the whole family enjoys. It’s the only time my son ever gets to have coke.

7. Cutting my kid’s hair – okay, both my squirmy boys got some god awful haircuts before I decided I should just suck it up and pay the $10..plus, they get a matchbox car and a lolly when they’re done.

8. Hair coloring + cutting – yeah, I know I could spend $7 at CVS and be a box blonde, but I don’t. I once cut/colored my girlfriends hair. By the end, her hair that was supposed to be blonde was a deep eggplant color (oops, the purple was in the blonde slot in the store) and her ear was bleeding. She had this thing about people getting close to her ear with scissors)…anyway one jerk too many and I drew blood. We were doing it at her grandmas who proceeded to have a heart attack and we had to drive her to the emergency room. I ended up rinsing her hair in the hospital sink. She got a lot of compliments on the cut, but we haven’t repeated the process since.

9. Financial planning – BIG MISTAKE and waste of money. Did this when I was very very busy at work and pregnant. The guy was a boob and I’m doing it on my own again.

10. MT. Bike repair/maintenance – this is more to support the local bike shop and is super convenient. If you ride with any kind of frequency, this is a recurring expense in the summer.

I’ll make sure to post tomorrow with all the things I do do (like taxes, mowing, home repairs, coupons, etc)

21 Investing Newbie

Hells yeah I get my nails done. And my hair did too! LOL. I could save myself nearly $1,000 per year if I did it myself, but something about the way my hair stylist massages my scalp gets me EVERYTIME.

22 Miss Alpha

All automotive services, the dog groomer and rather than iron things I just put them back into the dryer… even if that means running the dryer several times.

:)

23 Dee

I also do the dryer thing just about every morning…just throw everybody’s clothes in there for a few minutes on the hot setting to knock out any wrinkles. I only iron on special occasions.

24 Ace

I agree that laziness can often get in the way of money saving tactics. But to play devil’s advocate, there are always three factors (in my mind) that determine whether or not you should do it yourself, or not. The first is time. We all know that we can always use more time, and even if it means that you get 20 more minutes in front of the TV because you’re not slaving away in your garage trying to change your oil, that time is worth something.

The second factor is value. Ninja, just like you, I’m not the greatest cook. I actually do enjoy cooking and I’m trying to get better at it, but let’s face it there are a ton of restaurants out there that make better food than I do, no matter how hard I try. If something that get you better value than you doing it yourself then maybe it’s worth it.

The third is recurrence. Depending on how often something happens, then it may be worthwhile to actually invest your time to get better at it. This is the way I feel about cooking. I’m a terrible cook now, but eventually I’ll get better. And sure it’ll never be as good as many restaurants out there, but as I get better at cooking restaurants provide me less added value.

Great thoughtful piece Ninja.

25 Jenna

HA! I just got a pedicure last night. Granted I did just hike around China for two weeks and go camping for 4th of July so my toes deserved a little summer time pampering. However, I rarely get them done professionally. I’d rather save my money. I love spending time chatting with my mom when we go. Or treating my grandma, she get practically giddy when she goes. I figure all the money I usually save doing my nails on my own now I can put towards pedicures when I’m old and can’t bend down and do them myself when I’m old. That way it truel is a treat.

26 Serendipity

Taxes I use TurboxTax. Seems to give me a big refund, although I’m sure there was a way to write the taxes off my used car, I’m sure there was! I partake in the Starbucks, it’s so good and makes my morning start off right. I can’t help it.

27 Liz

Once upon a time, I had more money than time (attorney at a large law firm). So we had a lawn-care service, a housecleaning service, a grocery delivery service, and a whole lotta other support. Then I had a lot more time than money (home full-time), so I did pretty much everything myself. Now, it’s a happy medium (work full-time, but not 80 hours per week anymore), and it’s a balancing act — is spending the money on a thing worth the time it saves me? That’s a question I ask all the time. I do our taxes, but let someone else do the housecleaning. We mow our own yard, take our own trash to the dump, but buy quite a bit of prepared foods (pre-cooked chicken, baby carrots, broccoli florets, chicken broth, cooked beans, etc). I’m sure there are lots of things on which I could save money if I just did them myself — but then I wouldn’t have the time to hang out with my kids, or read a good book, or talk with friends. And I value those things more than I value the money I would save by doing the other stuff myself.

28 momninja

As you know we actually pay someone to come and scoop the dog poop 2 times a week so we don’t have to. Worth every penny!

29 eef

I definitely pay to get my oil changed, but I do my own taxes, I don’t do the mani/pedi thing, I DO get my hair done every two months, but normally just a cut and I do any dyeing myself. I cut my boyfriend’s hair so we save some money there… I pack my lunch everyday and rarely go out to dinner…

Not too bad.

I’m crafty so I’ve got the greeting card thing down. Unfortunately everyone who knows me better like my artwork because that’s what they’re getting for EVERY holiday.

I think probably the biggest laziness expense I have is food. Even though I pack my lunch and rarely dine out, I like my cheese already shredded, baby carrots, salad mixes, and granola bars for when I’m in a hurry.

You should probably just buy greeting cards from me. I’ll take custom requests and put them up in my Zazzle. =]

30 Stephan

i just started doing my own oil on my car and its definitely not hard at all and might be worth your 40 minutes on a random saturday. also, whenever the weather cooperates, i always wash my car myself and not at the automatic car wash. saves me about 20$ every 2 month!
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31 Melissa

I dunno if it’s laziness, but there’s definitely some things I’ll gladly pay for a professional to do because they can do it waaaay better than I can: hair cut/styling, beauty treatments, massages, alterations, automotive services/oil changes.

I like DIY ‘around the apartment’ projects, but they tend to be limited because we don’t have full reign over our surroundings due to restrictions set by the landlord. As for major handyman stuff – broken washing machine, leaky air handling unit – hey, we call the landlord. We pay for that through our rent. Totally not lazy, but smart thinking.

32 Bonnie

I definitely pay for oil changes and, in my case, eyebrow waxes (everyone always says I could easiy tweeze them at home, but those people are rarely of Italian descent like me–anyone who is knows how bad it is). My taxes are a bit complicated with freelance and full-time work and federal, state, and city taxes, so it’s worth it to me to pay to have them done.

For the most part I cook our meals at home. We tend to eat out once or twice a week on the weekends. However, I enjoy cooking, and it sounds like you don’t. That makes a difference.

My BF is a hair stylist so I am lucky there! I get professional cuts and color for free. But when I was single, I paid for a pretty decent cut but definitely did home color. (Too bad he doesn’t do eybrows!)

33 Leigh Ann

Paper towels. Use some old washcloths and cut-up t-shirts to wipe up spills and swipe the counters. It takes maybe a minute more of your time to fold them when they get out of the wash.

34 Aryn

The tricky part of doing your own oil changes is disposing of the oil. In California, it’s illegal to put motor oil out with the trash. Any time you save might be used up driving to the place where you turn in the oil!

35 wysiwyg

Here’s a helpful article from the Wall Street Journal that includes a worksheet to help you decide whether laziness in certain areas of your life is costing you, or whether DIY is a false economy. The author concludes that only people who earn more than $14M per year should ever hire a flesh-and-blood CPA: everyone else can get the job done using tax prep software.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1046196255813266783.html

36 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

Ummm…yeah, we’re lazy.

– Fast food and restaurants probably take us for about $2500-$3000 a year.
– Our biweekly housecleaner is about $50 a pop.
– Our biweekly lawn service 8 months a year is $25 a pop and I just paid him $35 to do all the mulching with that really black type of mulch because I didn’t want to.
– We pay $20-$25 a pop for oil changes and tons for any problems…the only car stuff I do myself is add more brake fluid to my leaky Aveo every 6 months and windshield wiper fluid as necessary.
– We used a CPA for our taxes for the last 3 years since we had some business losses that were confusing, but my husband plans to do them himself from here on out since that’s all done.
– Movers. We will never move our stuff again…I’ll pack it, but I’m hiring the muscle.
– Replacing our floors – we paid to have our crappy carpet replaced with wood laminate.
– I will call a handyman for anything that would take us more than a couple of hours to fix…so far that has only been for our A/C and a family friend replaced a part at cost, but I know me and I see many handymen/women in our future.
– Vets have made thousands off of us because I don’t have access to their drugs for my dogs otherwise.
– I paid $125 to have my blog migrated from Blogger to Wordpress because I looked at what was involved and nearly freaked out.

Yep, we be lazy people…

37 D*Rockafeller

Greeting cards at the dollar store are usually 2 for a buck, and the look just as good as target!

38 Jenny

I do most of the “lazy” things you’ve listed. My husband knows how to change the oil in our van, but for about $30 we can get that wonderful all-inclusive service you mentioned and it’s worth it to me so I’ll have a heads-up if something is wrong with our van. We just paid it off and are hoping it will last forever, or at least a really long time so we can save to pay cash for the next one. The lady who does our taxes can usually figure out how to get us more money back than her fee costs. And, I swear, I don’t like cooking either and sometimes when I find a recipe and begin making the shopping list, I see that it’d be cheaper to buy convenience food! When I think about planning my menu around coupons and sales, I just get tired and confused.

But I never get my nails done–I can do that just fine by myself. Also, I rarely buy greeting cards. I figure if I’m buying someone a gift, they’d rather have one that’s $3 nicer instead of a card to go with it that they’re only going to throw away.

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