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It may not be too far-fetched to imagine the eccentric billionaire who launched Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, with bleach bottle in one rubber-gloved hand and toilet brush in the other, scrubbing his porcelain throne on weekends

Chances are the thrifty Swede prefers to do his own housework rather than outsource, especially given his well-published view that “waste is a mortal sin”. The frugal flat-pack furniture king has been photographed doing his own supermarket shopping, flying economy, catching the bus and driving himself to work in a beat-up old Volvo. 

But for the average householder who wants to enjoy their earnings and their leisure, it may be worth spending a little on household help to save a lot stress. 

Ask those Australians who collectively pay $820 million a year to have homes cleaned, and most will say the outlay is a household budget necessity because they work long hours in demanding jobs that leave little time or energy for cleaning. 

The price of domestic bliss could be worth paying if you know that when you get home it will be clean and tidy so you can spend quality time with the family, instead of bickering over chores. But the potential benefits of outsourcing are not limited to increased leisure.

Budgeting for health

Denver-based endocrinologist Dr James Ehrlich says that constant exposure to minor stressors, such as a messy home, can in the long term be more conducive to heart attacks and cancer than the rare big shocks in life. Living in an uninterrupted state of domestic chaos could lead to the body being clogged with adrenaline, which can foster disease when it accumulates. 

A financial plan that sets money aside for household help could potentially protect your mental and physical well-being. But it may also protect your wealth. One of the biggest destroyers of personal wealth is divorce, so by reducing household stress you could potentially save your marriage and preserve your nest egg. 

Households that outsource chores have grown nearly 3 per cent a year over the past decade. Some of the reasons cited for the growing trend are rising incomes, an ageing population and increasing numbers of women remaining in the workforce. 

But outsourcing is still the exception rather than the rule in Australian households. University of NSW research found that less than 8.5 per cent of households employ cleaners, and it’s not just a question of money. 

Up to 90 per cent of the well-healed still prefer to clean up after themselves. This has been attributed to two things: Australians cringing at the thought of a stranger in their home and believing that domestic help is an unaffordable luxury. 

Bargain hunting

The cost of household help varies widely. Some branded franchisors with glitzy websites can be costly, but it is worth doing your research. 

Online platforms such as Quotify, which suggests house cleaning prices range between $25 and $50 an hour, provide a virtual market place where small businesses compete for customers’ patronage. 

Even cheaper services can be found on odd-job portals such as Airtasker, Occasional Butler, Sidekicker and Hoprunner. These sites facilitate bidding for errands and some provide free public liability insurance and background checks. 

At Airtasker, time-poor users can pay as little as $15 an hour for outsourced cleaning. The penny-pinching Ikea boss might well wag his finger in disapproval. But if outsourcing chores saves your sanity and your marriage, it could be an investment worth considering.

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Email: info@connollywealth.com.au

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