Things you pay to have other people do and things you've insourced?

Hellllo friends! I’m doing research for an episode on insourcing vs outsourcing labor in your personal life. Partially inspired by the fact I just paid someone to fix my bike brakes after screwing it up on my own and it is so worth it to give them $15. I’m curious about a few things:

  • Things you’ve outsourced and found valuable (or even overall save you money or lots of time)
  • Things you have outsourced because your health/disability doesn’t allow you to do
  • Things you have outsourced because you work schedule/setup doesn’t allow you to do it yourself (i.e. laundry)
  • Things you’ve “insourced” that you like doing yourself/save you significant money

I know a lot of people come from the MMM camp where you try to “insource” as much as possible - i.e. cutting your own hair - so I am curious about your best insourcing victories.

Examples of outsourced “personal” labor (i.e. not strictly related to your job):

  • hairdressers
  • Grocery/essentials delivery
  • hiring a house cleaner
  • nannies
  • personal assistants/organizers who handle life admin stuff
  • Tax accountant or tax preparer
  • bike or car mechanics
  • handypeople for home repairs/installation
  • personal cook/chefs
  • cloth diaper cleaning services
  • general laundry service or dry cleaning
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Taxes are a definite outsource.
Business income from work done in multiple states, farm stuff, investments (both long and short term) and various write-offs… I want someone else to take care of that and the letters I get from several states each year saying I owe more ( I usually end up getting some back from them after a months-long written interaction between them and my accountant)

Oil changes: I don’t fit under most cars and I don’t have a stable area to jack them up to get under either.

Ironing my suits: I can handle a cotton shirt just fine, but I’m not messing around with a nice suit

My strongman training: Hiring a coach is maybe the best thing I ever did. I mean, I still have to lift the weights, but not having to think about how to program the routine, when to push volume and when to pull intensity… it’s given me a lot more mental space for $10 a week. Plus I’m stronger than ever with fewer injuries.

One-off repairs that I don’t have the right tools for, and that the tools cost more than hiring someone does.

Hair cuts for me: We just buzz it all off every couple of weeks.
Soap making
Beer making
Fancy charcuterie and cheese making
Moving (We load and unload the trucks and drive them ourselves.)
Tech stuff
Paper recycling (it’s now mushroom food)
Home gym ( not a normal insource sort of category, but having my equipment in my garage cost $6000 up front. A gym membership that would offer the same stuff I have would cost $100 / month each minimum for both my wife and I. + 120 mile round trip drive to use it. @4x a week, that adds up fast.)


We insource haircuts, mostly because then I can avoid small talk with strangers and Greyman can get his hair cut while playing computer games. It saves money but we like the other benefits and it makes the admittedly worse haircuts worth it.

Outsource any home repairs that aren’t fairly obvious how to do with a quick internet search. Otherwise it usually just ends up getting done 6 months later and costing more money from unused materials, incorrect materials, or more broken things.


I pay a higher MER for our investments for the advantage of having my savings be automated rather than having to buy an ETF every two months and be stressed knowing exactly where the price point is every time.



Housecleaning - I have the time and skills to do this myself, but I just … don’t. I also tend to not see my own clutter, so I have a monthly housecleaning service mainly to force myself to put things away at least once per month. It is worth the cost (3% of my annual spend) to me.


Haircuts - I wear my hair long and unlayered. So it just needs a trim every once in a while which is easy enough for me to do. This is not so much about the cost savings (would spend ~$20 2-4x/year) as about not having to make awkward conversation with the stranger cutting my hair.

Food prep - I have a personal rule against food delivery. I do occasionally order takeout (though I actually don’t remember the last time I did this - a few years ago?) but I have to go pick it up. I rarely eat out unless it is part of a social activity.

Taxes - mine are fairly simple (no business income) and having a good understanding of how taxes work helps in planning for the next year. Some years I’ve spent on tax-prep software, but have just been using free fillable forms for the last 4 years or so.

Yard maintenance - though I outsourced mowing for the first time ever this summer when I was traveling for a long stretch.


Home repairs - this depends on the level of complexity, my skills, and what time I have available. Basic plumbing and electrical I do myself. Anything involving the gas line I outsource. Sometimes I outsource things to my dad when he is visiting. I outsourced a new roof (rubber membrane) on my house, but plan to do the basic asphalt shingles on the garage myself (someday, when I get around to it). I may outsource repairing a leaky water supply to my shower, because my repair attempts have so far been unsuccessful. But I’ll DIY the drywall/tile replacement that will be necessary after the leak is fixed.

Car repairs - I do the absolute basics (air filter, oil change), but leave more complicated maintenance and repairs to people with more skills and tools.

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  • Work on my car, including oil changes (no safe place to jack the car, no place to store tools, tools are expensive, relatively little time to learn how to actually fix the vehicle)
  • Access to exercise equipment (sharing 530 sq ft with Wizard + having Achilles problems that make running a no-no = yes I am paying for a gym)
  • Occasional pre-prepped foods (frozen pizzas, pre-chopped veggies) – we don’t always do this, but it is sometimes the difference between eating out and eating in
  • Veterinary and medical care beyond very basic minor first-aid sort of stuff – for example, I tried to do PT on my own last year and really needed the help of a licensed therapist to get me where I needed to be
  • Home repairs (I rent; this is the freaking point of renting is that I don’t have to fix it if it breaks)


  • Cut my own hair when my hair is short (does not work well if I need a complex hair cut, but is great for my current undercut thing). I actually enjoy getting my hair cut by another person, but I also enjoy doing it myself, so this one is really about money
  • Dye my own hair (frankly, I do just about as well as a salon does on this one)
  • Prepare my own taxes by hand (biggest complication is having an HSA, so this is not very hard)
  • Fix my own clothes
  • Launder my own clothes, including things that others might dry clean
  • I make things like paneer at home (much cheaper than buying it, even with Fancy Organic Milk In Glass Bottles)
  • I also make almost all my desserts on my own
  • Moving (before I owned furniture, I never even rented a truck)

Ok, prices have gone up since I last paid for a haircut. I just checked on the closest place to me, which is Hair Cuttery. There it would be $19 plus tip. So I wasn’t too far off.

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Other than the beauty school, there isn’t a place around here for less than $45 other than great clips, which has effed up my hair enough I won’t go there anymore. I am so jealous.


If you didn’t like Great Clips, you wouldn’t like Hair Cuttery. Same kind of place. I didn’t say it was good - I can achieve almost the same result at home, so I do.


Ah, yea, I need my hair wet to get cut and great clips won’t do it. If I could handle long hair like yours that would be a good solution. The beauty school is cheap and decent, but it takes like 2.5 hours to get your hair cut there. I thought you knew a magical cheap hair cutting place lol (but of course the cheap ones are always bad because they don’t pay enough.)



  • Haircut: I dry trim my own curls. There’s no one reasonable in my area who will cut my curls while dry.
  • Minor car maintenance: Things like changing my headlights (I may reconsider, headlights on a Prius are a PITA to do), changing the cabin air filter, changing wiper blades.
  • Coffee: As much as I love my French press, I now use a drip brew system so I’ll actually make my own coffee instead of buying it.
  • Cooking: During times of stress I will definitely eat out too much, but for the most part I routinely cook my own food.


  • Haircut: I tried buzzing all around on my own, just not worth the effort and mess. Now my sister helps me with that upkeep or I pay $10 at the local barber shop.
  • Car maintenance: I just don’t have the equipment or space to change my own oil or anything more complex than that.

I have outsourced basically everything at this point - it takes a lot of energy to maintain a household and I want to spend that energy on being creative after work!

Living in an apartment: outsourced building and lawn maintenance
Transit/Lyft: outsourcing driving
I order premade on-diet meals and get them delivered

I do insource my taxes and laundry (I have a w/d in unit, that’s the only way that ever happens) and tech stuff.

Oh, and there’s a third category here: “eliminate”. I just don’t own clothes that need to be ironed or dry-cleaned!

Is this more expensive? Yes, hella. But right now I’d much rather spend my money than my energy on these unfulfilling tasks. In exchange, I put out three games this year that I’m really proud of!


Cleaning (sadly)
Most haircuts
Most body hair removal
All nail care

Driving (disability)
Some cooking/meal prep/delivery (some disability)
Home repairs
Some pain management

Many chores
Social expectations


We’re major insourcers here, up to and including designing and building the house itself.

Some things are insourced by necessity, like cleaning (have never met a house cleaner with 4wd, and it’s required to get here), most food (no delivery available, whether that be food, fedex, ups, or US mail).

We mostly insource auto repair, but I have insisted to my husband he’s changed out his last transmission. Too heavy, and we’re getting old enough that strains don’t heal as fast as they did. So we’re outsourcing any future really big jobs.

We do outsource some food, eating out or getting frozen pizza occasionally.

We outsource almost all veterinary and some medical care, but I do some with herbs I grow or forage.

We’re outsourcing any future venison processing (see: too old above).


We insource most stuff between the two of us, but I would have to outsource quite a few things if I were flying solo. We also sometimes outsource more stuff for temporary periods of time, like if I’m post-op or post-injury. The first thing we outsource if I’m down and out is usually food, but I even freezer cook and create basic meals my husband can toss together to mitigate that because I hate outsourcing it.

Food - My favorite, I love love love insourcing as much food as possible not just for the money saving but the health and quality level too. Even if I had millions of dollars I would not outsource food any more than I do now and I’d still insist on packing breakfasts/lunches.

Cleaning - I would have to outsource most cleaning if I were solo but husband does all the stuff I can’t do, which is a lot these days. I also insource cleaning products (50%) by using a lot vinegar solutions and stuff like that, in addition to antibacterial store stuff and wood oil. Vinegar is THE BEST for stainless steel and glass IMO.

Laundry (including ironing, having dress shirts dry cleaned is so $ and my husband wears them daily for work) - this is very easy to insource now because we have a washer and dryer but if I were solo I would have had to outsource this completely for years before (when my husband would haul everything several blocks to the laundromat). I definitely would have had to pay for a laundry pickup/dropoff service.

Taxes - I do our taxes. I think it’s fun for some reason, IDK.

Fitness (we both work out at home!)

Haircuts- So I insource this for myself because I have long curly hair and it’s really easy for me to diy the light trimming like, once a year. My husband’s is outsourced because he needs to look professional and my men’s hair cutting skills are…a little punk.

Shopping- I’ve gone through various periods of ordering a lot of things for delivery (I mean grocery delivery mostly) and also periods of insourcing. Right now we insource like 90% of our shopping because we have a car and do it together. If I were solo I would have to outsource 100% of my shopping and have it all delivered.

Stuff we outsource:

Maintenance: We live in an apartment so we don’t really have to do any maintenance or repairs. I LOVE not having to deal with that stuff and it’s 100% worth it to me. We also outsource car things.

Tailoring/Sewing: I have to get some of my clothes tailored and I pay someone to do it because I do not have sewing skills…or the interest to develop them. My husband pays for tailoring too, no way could I tailor a suit for him, lol. I can hardly sew a seam.

Furniture/Home stuff: I don’t make drapes, pillows, furniture, none of that stuff.

Other: I also go in loops with personal care outsourcing. When I’m able I do it all myself (nails, hair removal) but when I’m post-whatever I often outsource and get my nails done/pay for waxing. Totally worth it when I can’t diy, makes me feel human, but very expensive and I don’t mind doing it myself. I think getting really good at manicuring your own nails is a great skill if you like to have “done” looking nails. You can save so much money and most of the result of a paid-for manicure is the technique and skill not expensive materials.



  • Garden work. We have gotten family to help with the larger tasks, but garden design and maintenance is my job.
  • My haircuts. I prefer it for quality and sensory reasons.
  • Dishes, laundry.


  • Fortnightly cleaning of surfaces, eg vacuuming and mopping. I find it very stressful to tidy up beforehand, but it is helping keep our house a lot cleaner and is resulting in me having energy/a tidy enough space to get through our backlog of cleaning. I’m hoping this one will become monthly and perhaps eventually only required when I’m having a fatigue flare.
  • Ponder’s haircuts. He likes the head massage.
  • Plumbing, gas repairs
  • Hot water heater and aircon services
  • Car maintenance and repairs
  • Taxes. This is so I don’t hate my spouse.
  • Renovating our home will be heavily outsourced but with a lot of input from us. I plan on moving out for the period of renovations due to mental health/ sensory reasons.


  • Handy person stuff around the home. We’ve put up several curtains but are getting a professional to put up blinds and rails for the tricky windows.
  • Shopping and delivery of goods. Some items have free shipping and low amounts of packaging: I order those in. Others depend on whether we have the right vehicle, I try to group items into a large order if it’s a large cost of shipping. I also buy more in person when I’m feeling well.
  • Food. I outsource most of the delivery, we are trying to move towards insourcing most of the actual preparation and cooking.


  • House cleaning (every two weeks). This was a big deal for me to start doing and I still feel like a bougie asshole, a little bit. But I started when I was very busy and the family I babysit for asked me to add a couple hours in the morning a couple days a week. I did NOT have the bandwidth to do it without letting go of something else. I’d make slightly more money by babysitting and paying someone to clean my house than by turning down the babysitting and cleaning myself, so that’s how I justified it. I would much rather watch small children for a few hours than use that time cleaning.

  • Grocery pickup (mostly). I tried it when I had a coupon for three free pickups and got hooked. Now I pay $4.95 per order for it. Theoretically I don’t impulse shop as much so it might even out cost-wise but it’s mainly for the time savings and convenience. I still shop myself for small things but for the big trips I usually pay for pickups.

  • Haircuts

  • Auto maintenance


  • Yardwork
  • Laundry
  • Tax prep
  • Meal prep


  • home repairs (depending on complexity)
  • bike maintenance

Haircuts (wavy layers on fine hair…)
Car maintenance (except minor “dry tasks” eg headlights. Bf is handy :heart:)
Of late, more food. Sometimes takeout, usually frozen prepared food, rotisserie chicken, etc.

Taxes…nothing complicated (eg house, kids, business). I’ll use the cheapest legit software.
Alterations (not on suits though…but hemming pants, a few darts, I can do…eventually…)


Most cooking and baking
Taxes (with help from TurboTax)
Basic bike maintenance, flat repair, and changing brake pads
Exercise: bike commuting and the Down Dog yoga app

Advanced bike maintenance and repair
Car ownership: we have a Zipcar subscription

Home repair: we will take a DIY stab first before calling a pro
Grocery acquisition: since going car free, I’ve been exploring occasional grocery delivery
Pet care: we walk our dog and don’t use a doggy daycare, but we do pay for nail trims and kenneling when we’re out of town.