- I’m a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom, and I put a premium on my time.
- We budget to spend about $1,000 a month on house cleaning and lawn maintenance, grocery and meal delivery services, workout equipment, and babysitters.
- It’s expensive, but the positive effect on our lives makes it well worth it.
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Time is money, or so they say. Even as a stay-at-home mom/freelance writer, I still put a premium on my time. That’s why I don’t feel bad about splurging on things that streamline my daily life, like meal delivery services and grocery delivery, cleaning crews, or weekly lawn maintenance.
Other splurges I fully stand behind? Monthly babysitters, (research has shown that taking time to unwind has a direct effect on productivity), even at-home workout equipment, which equals less time spent commuting to the gym and saving money on drop-in classes of gym memberships.
Another plus? Knowing that my money is spent directly improving the quality and efficiency of my life makes it easy to stick to my budget in other areas, like going out to dinner, travel, or buying clothing. Here are the top things I splurge on — and why I don’t feel guilty.
1. Cleaning services and lawn maintenance
When we moved into our current house, it was significantly bigger than our first home, a small colonial with just two bathrooms and three bedrooms. Now we have about 1,000 more square feet, plus an additional bathroom and bedroom.
Since I’ve been working steadily since my first son was born nearly four years ago, we made it a priority (and a set budget line, for matter) to hire a biweekly cleaning service. We pay $110 every other week to have our home cleaned, for a total of about $220/month. While that isn’t a small amount of money, I can easily make that up in three hours of work; which, ironically, is about the amount of time it would take me to clean our house myself.
Another thing we splurge on? A lawn maintenance service. We live in Florida, where the extreme heat and rainy season make it hard to successfully maintain the grass and other plants. Coupled with my husband’s busy work schedule, we hired a lawn service to take care of our lawn and landscaping.
We started off paying $110/month for weekly mowing, plus monthly weeding and landscaping. Though that price recently went up to $150/month, which admittedly, hurt a little bit, it’s still worth it to us — especially since we don’t have to spend money on lawn equipment.
Monthly total: $370
2. Grocery and meal delivery services
It’s no secret that eating out can take a huge chunk out of your budget. But for us, a busy family with young kids, committing to eating in for most meals meant we had to both plan ahead and be excited about what we would be preparing for meals. That’s why we decided to try a meal planning service for weekly dinners. We landed on Hello Fresh, but I’ve also heard great things about Sunbasket, eMeals, and Blue Apron.
Hello Fresh works for us because we pick out our (family-friendly) meals ahead of time, it’s delivered to our door every Monday, with all the recipes and ingredients included. Plus, the meals have all been good so far, which means we’re actually excited to eat in. We pay $110/weekly, which includes ingredients for four dinners for our family of four.
Speaking of delivery, another way we stay on track and stick to our grocery list is a weekly grocery delivery for basics like eggs, milk, snacks, and fruit. That delivery fee is $9.95/week, plus the cost of groceries.
Monthly total: $479.80
3. Self-care costs
No, I’m not saying I schedule monthly visits to the spa or nail salon. In fact, with a one and three-year-old, those outings are rare. But I do earmark funds for other self-care items, like home workout equipment and monthly babysitters so we can enjoy an adults-only evening out.
While I know the gold standard of spinning bikes is probably Peloton, we opted for a cheaper alternative, the Echelon. It cost $450 (in 2020), $400 of which was reimbursed by my husband’s employer. We also pay a $39.99/monthly subscription fee for access to live classes. Even if I only make it on the bike a few times a week, we’re still saving big on gym memberships or drop-in spinning or yoga classes.
Now that our kids are both generally sleeping through the night, my husband and I have committed to a monthly date night. The going rate for sitters in our area is $16/hour, so after all is said and done, we usually spend around $56/month on nights out — well worth it in my opinion.
Monthly total: $95.99
After running the numbers, I realized we spend about $945/month for household “splurges” that make our lives a little bit easier and more efficient. While that isn’t a small amount of money, the positive effects it’s had on our lives — and our budget — makes it well worth it.
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