Outsource Your Chores—And Still Save Money
Think that only celebrities can afford to have someone else run their errands? Well, you’re in for a treat. Today, there are more and more services that help people save time on “life maintenance” tasks, and they cater more to the busy professional than to the rich and famous.
If you find that work leaves you no time to keep up your duties at home, or if standing in line at the grocery store has become your weekend social activity, consider these services that simplify your life—and for less than you might think.
Service: Grocery Delivery
Plan on hitting your neighborhood Whole Foods on Monday after work? That might not be a bad idea if you’re trained in combat, plus have several hours to spare. If not, consider grocery delivery. You shop and pay online, personal grocery shoppers hand-pick your goods to ensure that your produce is fresh and appropriate substitutions are made (if necessary), and your order is delivered to your door. East Coasters can try Peapod and Fresh Direct, and Safeway Grocery Delivery is a good bet for other major cities.
Cost: Typical cost of groceries, plus a $5.79-12.95 delivery charge
Service: Coffee Delivery
While grocery delivery is great for most consumables, there are a few things that most of us are a bit—ahem—picky about. Like coffee. Caffeinophiles will love CraftCoffee, a monthly subscription service that sends fresh, sustainably grown, artisan coffees to your door. Another time saver: you can specify your preferred grind, such as French press, espresso, Turkish, and more. For a few dollars more, Caribou Coffee offers several different coffee delivery programs, including Lighter Roast, Darker Roast, Decaf, and K-Cup.
Cost: $18.99-$27.98 per month (Yes, that’s cheaper than your daily visit to Starbucks.)
Service: Laundry Delivery
There’s really no need to describe why your life would be better without having to schlep four weeks of laundry down a flight of stairs, hoard quarters like they’re gold, and hang out with the fine crowd at the Laundromat. Most major cities have companies that pick up and deliver your dry cleaning from your home or office, while Laundry Limo and Purple Tie do the rest: clothes, sheets, towels (even underwear!).
Cost: Dry cleaning varies; full-service laundry is $1.69-$2.50 per pound for two-day service; additional charges for specialty items, dry cleaning, and faster turnaround
Service: Hosiery Delivery
You frantically throw on (what you thought was) your last good pair of tights as you run out the door, only to find an ankle-to-shin run the moment you get to the office. If this sounds like a regular occurrence, time to sign up for Hoseanna. The specialized subscription service delivers hosiery automatically on a monthly basis, helping to prevent those legwear malfunctions. Best of all, you can have your pick of fabulous brands like Hanes, Hue, DKNY, and Calvin Klein.
Cost: The regular price of hosiery, plus a delivery fee of $5-10 (or free on orders over $50)
Tired of feeling guilty for forgetting Aunt Mary’s birthday…again? Sign up for Hallmark’s “Cards That Mail Themselves” program: You select a card and draft a message ahead of time, and the service will stamp, address, and mail it on the date you choose. Planning one day each quarter (or year!) to pick and schedule greetings for your loved ones will save you not only time, but also the hassle of remembering dozens of occasions.
Cost: The typical cost of a card and regular postage
Service: Door-to-Door Luggage
Seriously, who has time to stand in line at the airport to check a bag? If carry-on only luggage isn’t an option, or if you’re traveling with oversized or oddly-shaped baggage like skis or golf clubs, consider a baggage delivery service. Try United’s Door-to-Door Baggage program, or, when flying other airlines, check out Luggage Forward.
Cost: Starts at $69 per bag for domestic travel. Not too shabby, considering some airlines’ checked baggage fees.
Service: Man Management
If your boyfriend, husband, or the man in your life is always running out of shampoo and begging to borrow your (much more expensive) products, point him to Guy Haus (coming June 2011). The site automatically delivers soap, razors, toothpaste, and other essentials on his desired schedule. Timesaver for you: not having to dash to the drug store when he’s used the last of the body wash, again.
Cost: We’ll let you know as soon as we do!
Service: Automatic Bill Paying
Instead of spending time writing checks, addressing envelopes, and searching for those stamps you know are buried somewhere, opt to have all of your bills paid automatically from your bank account. Most utility companies allow you to enroll directly through their website, or, for even less effort, use PayTrust, which compiles your bills and allows you to pay them all at one time.
Cost: Free for most utility companies; $9.95 per month for PayTrust. Likely offset by never having to pay a late fee again.
Service: Anything (and Everything) Else
Need to run uptown for your mom’s favorite birthday cake from a bakery that—of course—doesn’t deliver? Have dozens of photos that need to be printed, framed, and hung? Outsource all of your miscellaneous errands by using services like TaskRabbit (in San Francisco or Boston) or Agent Anything (in the New York area), which facilitate the hiring of “micro” assistants to do anything from helping you move to walking your dog. For virtual tasks, like booking travel or cleaning out your inbox, try Ask Sunday.
Cost: Depends on the task: you can name your price or request assistants to make offers. AskSunday starts at $99 for 10 hours of service.
Photo courtesy of tinou bao.
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