Monday, May 31, 2010

Core Competency win? Or epic frugal fail?

I just finished reading through a new acquaintance's Huffington Post blog from a few years ago in which she details the rise and benefits of the "core competency" mom.

I'll be writing about her new book "168 Hours" for the Washington Times in a few weeks and I am very, very much looking forward to getting to read it in preparation for the job. One of the perks of journalism is getting paid to talk to really interesting people and read their incredible work. I'm excited.

Her blog posts detail the time saving benefits of being what she calls a "core competency mom," or a woman who "outsources or ignores things other people can do just as well in order to focus on what they do best: nurturing their families and their paid work."

Her point is that statistically women who work outside their home spend almost just as much time per week with their kids as stay at home moms (ones who dont homeschool). So what are these homemakers doing with their time? Housework. Cooking. Laundry. Stuff like that.

There's no question that those things kind of suck and having someone else do them would be grand. ... it would also be expensive. And, in my estimation, an epic frugal fail.

While her posts admit that cost is a factor, she argues that your time is also valuable and that perhaps spending time with your kids "costs" the same amount as getting someone else to do your laundry.

That may very well be the case. But what if one of your core competencies is frugality -- and not because you are good at it or even must be good at it but, for the sake of your family and a desire to give, WANT to be good at it?

The spirit of frugality dictates that you manage your schedule and life in such a way that you have extra of the valuable things -- time and money -- to give to others or (in the case of money) save for later.

As with everything, a cost benefit analysis should be applied to all frugal endeavorers. Cooking my own beans instead of buying canned is only a frugal win because it takes so little hands on time. I use a lot of beans and while a $2ish savings per every three recipes doesn't seem like a lot, it will add up.

I, however, do not make my own dishwasher detergent or washing machine soap because I find a way to buy that stuff very cheaply. The time it would take to make it just isn't worth it to me.

I spend a good amount of time couponing, reading through deals blogs and registering for free items (and thus really good coupons), going through grocery sales and planning menus because I know this time will equal enough savings to make it worth my while. I am in the process of reigning in my schedule and the time I spend doing these things (a blog post to come). But just looking at the difference in my grocery receipts now compared to a year ago I know that the savings is huge. ... the difference between over $100 a week at the commissary and $50.

Here is the big question when considering a core competency lifestyle -- what are your priorities? If money management and frugality is up there with other aspects of your family, then outsourcing your laundry, cooking and cleaning on a regular basis is simply not an option.

1 comment:

  1. unless you're like the family I nannied for and she was a CEO and made TONS of money and then it really was more "frugal" for her to outsource things like a housecleaner and a nanny (who also did laundry and dishes and cleaned up after the kids) ...the point is, I think it all depends how much you're "worth" in the work world as well. ie. for me... who makes an average amount as a gymnastics coach... it would NOT be worth it for me to outsource the home things. yah?