When did we get so helpless?

Hi everyone, I’ve got something terrific to share with you this week. A while back I was reading Cait Flanders blog, “Blonde on a Budget,” and she mentioned Robert Brown’s personal finance book Wealthing like Rabbits – An Original Introduction to Personal Finance.”  I had a look, read it and laughed out loud.  Only Robert can educate people about money with a book that includes sex, zombies and Star Trek.

Last year, I finally met Robert at the Canadian Personal Finance conference. He’ll be in Ottawa on November 10 (this Thursday) on CTV Morning Live.

When did we get so helpless?

A guest blog from Robert Brown, author of “Wealthing like Rabbits – an original introduction to Personal Finance.”

I’m always fascinated (and constantly amazed) by the things some people will spend their hard-earned money on. A couple of years ago, Maclean’s Magazine featured an article entitled, “Life with help: how did we get so useless?”  The article discussed the growing trend towards outsourcing the things in our lives that we either don’t want to do or that we struggle to find the time to do. It wasn’t a humour piece but, my sense of humour being what it is, I almost peed my pants laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of what some people are paying other people to do for them.

Apparently you can employ someone to assemble your IKEA furniture, scoop up your dog’s poop, program your remote control, or change your home’s light bulbs. You can hire someone to create a photo album for you or to stand in line and buy concert tickets for you. You can actually hire someone to place flowers on a loved one’s grave on your behalf. (Is it me or is that a little creepy?) Need to return some merchandise to a store for a refund? Why not hire someone to do it for you? (Maybe because paying someone to get your money back kinda defeats the whole purpose of getting your money back?)

You can hire someone to rearrange your furniture for you or to clean out your garage. You can pay someone to cut your grass, trim your hedge, shovel your snow, clean your house, do your laundry, iron your shirts, wash your dishes, buy your groceries, and prepare your meals. And so on, and so on, and so on.

When did we all get so freakin’ helpless?

The magazine quoted a Carleton University professor as saying: “You can pay for anything now and if people can afford it, they’re doing it.” Of course, the problem is that most people can’t afford it. Buddy spends $250 to get his car detailed and then complains that he can’t save any money or pay his super-duper premium package cable bill? Hey Buddy! Try a bucket of soapy water, a cloth, and a garden hose. Pull the floor mats out and put your vacuum cleaner to use. Clean the windows. Wipe down the interior. Use a Q-tip to get into the hard to reach places and now you’re detailing!

Of course there are some situations when we need to buy some help or expertise. No one who is not a licensed electrician should be wiring your air conditioner into the electrical panel. If your experience with chainsaws is limited to watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Netflix, it’s probably a solid idea to call someone with a bit of experience before cutting down the tree in your backyard. I understand that if you are away from the house for ten hours while you are at work, you might need someone to take the dog out for a walk.

I also get that sometimes it’s tough to stay on top of everything that needs to be done in our hectic lives, I really do. But if you’re paying someone to wash your dishes so that you can spend more time bonding with the kids, I can help. Hand them a couple of dish cloths and spend some quality time together at the sink. They’ll survive the experience and so will you. And if you’re paying someone to walk your dog while you’re inside the house … give your head a shake.

For more information on Robert Brown check out his website.

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