lifecycle cost

Our country is back in the saving mode. Anytime we purchase something, a product or service, it makes a lot of sense to look at all the costs that are incurred and assess the value we receive. Last week, I was at a sidewalk sale in New Canaan, CT. There were silk shirts for 50% off, reduced from $80, to $40… A steal. I was not totally thrilled with the color, but it looked like a good bargain. I started to reflect on how often I will use it and would I be excited to wear it often. The shirt would need to be sent to dry cleaning at $8/dry cleaning; I will probably spend $120 for 15 dry cleanings. Hence, the total cost of buying and using the shirt would be $ 160; still $40 less than the original cost of $200. Not a huge bargain though. If the product or service does not bring the value it is worth, the initial bargain gets washed away. No pun intended. The same logic applies to household help; nanny, babysitter, elder care provider, Chef or a housekeeper. Most families will spend about $30,000 to $50,000 for a full time household employee. Over 5 years these costs add up to $150,000 – $250,000, a significant cost, but an essential need for busy professionals and moms. Each individual service provider is different, and families need to make sure that the person working for you in your home is the best you can find for the duties, skills, personality and character. It takes effort to find this right person and any effort that you put in upfront will bring you years of rewards in terms of quality of life for your child, family and peace at home. In light of the implications, one should plan to spend about 80 hours if you are going to advertise and recruit a person yourself; 40 hours, if you are going to use your network and 10 hours; if you are planning to use a reputable agency. There is a right combination of pocket cost and time commitment choice for each family.

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