It must be great to be rich. After all, it’s a lot easier to be productive when you can pay someone to do all the menial things on your to-do list. But these perks aren’t restricted to trust fund kids. Some of the timesaving services that seem the most luxurious are surprisingly affordable, meaning you can boost your productive hours each day without crippling your cash flow.
Time is money…so why not spend a little cash to reclaim precious hours in your day? Here are some common services that seem indulgent but are cheaper than you might have thought.
1. Valet Parking
The Problem: You want to go out to dinner, but after you spend 30 minutes trying to find a place to park your car, you’ve missed your reservation.
The Solution: Valet parking seems like an indulgence (and a drain on your wallet.) The thing is, a ton of restaurants offer free valet parking, saving you time and keeping you from shelling out quarters for the parking meter. Make reservations at a place with free valet parking, and you’ll make a good impression on your dining companions, and be a lot less stressed out.
2. Personal Assistant
The Problem: You. Are. Swamped. But you don’t have the budget to hire another employee, and your personal life is just as frenetic as your professional life.
The Solution: A virtual personal assistant. Your employer would definitely frown on you outsourcing your job to a virtual assistant, but if you are self-employed or need an assistant for purely personal reasons, hiring a virtual personal assistant is a great way to get items checked off your to-do list. Rates vary by company/individual, but can be as low as $1 an hour…and plenty of companies offer free trial periods as well.
3. Grocery Delivery
The Problem: Driving to the store takes time. Picking out your purchases takes time. Clipping coupons (if you’re into that sort of thing) takes a lot of time. And let’s not forget the drudgery of waiting in line behind the old lady who’s buying cat food with a combination of pocket change and personal checks.
The Solution: Okay, no one’s gonna give you free groceries (unless it’s a charity org.) But, plenty of delivery services offer free shipping on your first order, low flat rate shipping, and competitive rates on their grocery items, so it doesn’t really cost you anything extra to shop online. Peapod, for example, offers free shipping for the first two months you use the service. Most services offer automated shipping as well, so you can have a constant stream of staples delivered to you at regular intervals.
4. Personal Accounting/Tax Prep
The Problem: You don’t want to have to manage your own money, but you don’t have enough dough to pay someone to do it for you.
The Solution: More like solutions. Free programs like GnuCash can help you track your spending year-round. H&R Block offers FREE audit support and representation from an enrolled agent when you file your taxes with them. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. The VITA Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $49,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns.
5. Laundry Service
The Problem: You hate doing laundry almost as much as you hate shelling out the dough for detergent and the coin-op laundry. And nothing bugs you more than spending a precious weekend afternoon washing and folding.
The Solution: Dry cleaning is definitely expensive, but washing the rest of your clothes can be surprisingly affordable. Rates vary by geographic location, but can be as low as 79 cents per pound. If you don’t have a home washing machine to begin with, laundry service might be a good choice for you.
As an added bonus, a lot of places that offer wash and fold services will also throw in free repairs for whatever you bring in, whether its a missing button or a fallen hem. And let’s be honest: those are the kinds of repairs you’re just gonna keep putting off.
6. House Cleaners/Maids
The Problem: Your house is starting to look like an audition tape for Hoarders. But to make a dent in the cleaning, you’d need to dedicate a whole month’s worth of weekends.
The Solution: Maid companies can be a little pricey, so you might want to try advertise on Craigslist or in your local paper. You can try having different providers bid like contractors for who gets the privilege of working for you. Also keep your eyes peeled for deals on sites like LivingSocial or Groupon, where there are occasionally deep discounts on maid services.
What “luxury” time-saving services are you most likely to splurge on? Tell us in the comments below!