Did you know that only 41 percent of Americans use a budget, according to a recent study by U.S. Bank? “Budget” feels like a dirty word—the thing holding you back from enjoying everything you love most in life in lieu of saving money. If you do it right, however, that’s not the case.
Quite the contrary, there are plenty of luxuries in life worth paying for. We’re not talking exotic vacations and expensive shoes, but those expenses that make your life easier, like grocery delivery or dog walking. When added to your budget, and planned for, these seemingly “luxurious” purchases are totally doable. What’s more, they allow you to streamline time-consuming tasks and take better care of yourself.
Of course, if you’re trying to get ahead financially waiting on these until you have your debt under control or have an emergency fund is probably a good idea. If you’re in the clear, here are some examples of luxuries that save you time but do so with some added expense.
Groceries are time-consuming, especially if you have a lot going on and work a full-time job. Between building a career, finding time for self-care and maintaining an active social life, groceries fall pretty low on the list. Yet with grocery delivery services, you can save that time and still eat healthy.
A standard grocery delivery service allows you to skip the grocery store (and the Sunday morning lines!). You order your food online and wait for it to arrive. To choose the best grocery delivery service, consider both online and offline options.
Brands like Thrive or Amazon Fresh offer online grocery shopping and delivery, along with many nationwide grocery store chains. If you like your usual supermarket, check with them about delivery first. You may be surprised to know they offer this newly popular service.
Wash and Fold Laundry
Did you know that it takes up to 100 minutes to do a single load of laundry (not counting folding!), according to CD One Price Cleaners? That’s 100 minutes you could be using to be productive in other areas of your life.
Rather than wasting the little time you have doing laundry, leave your dirty socks and underwear to the experts at a wash and fold service. Not only will you save time, but you’ll also save money on your water bill. Even better, you can forget about trips to the laundry mat if you don’t have washers and dryers in your apartment or house.
Look for a wash and fold service that offers same-day pick-up and text notifications. Leave your clothes before work, wait for the text, and then pick them up when you leave at the end of the day.
If you want to be more specific with your budget, weigh your clothes before bringing them in to be cleaned. Angie’s List suggests that the nationwide average cost is $0.90 to $3 a pound; use this to estimate total cost.
Finally, remember: you don’t need to use wash and fold every week. Save it for the weeks where you know you’ll be extra busy.
If you’re one of the 47 percent of dog owners who leave work “sooner than they should to let their dog out” you may be in the market for a dog walker. Keeping your dog active is crucial to their health, but shouldn’t be a detriment to your job.
Rather than clocking out of work to walk your furry friend, or spending too much money on dog boarding, hire a dog walker. To find the best person for your pooch, just head to your phone. Use a dog walking app to research walkers in your area. Look through reviews, experience, history and more so you can be sure your dog is in the best hands.
Are you sick of spending your weekends dusting lamps, washing sheets, and scrubbing a sink full of dishes—or worse, not doing it, and feeling guilty? If your answer is “yes,” then it’s time to hire a cleaning service that can do it for you.
While many people assume a cleaning service is expensive, most are surprisingly affordable. Per hour costs range from $50 to $90, making this a manageable expense when you plan for it.
If you don’t have room in your budget to hire a weekly cleaning service, hire them to come just once or twice a month. This way, you only have to maintain between cleanings.
Personal Online Assistant
Personal assistants are no longer just for the rich and famous. Fancy Hands is an online personal assistant service that proves exactly that. At just $35 per month for 15 tasks, a Fancy Hands personal assistant can help you check those pesky tasks off your to-do list much faster. For example, ask your assistant to research the cheapest airline tickets for your upcoming vacation—imagine the hours you’d save not having to do that.
There are dozens of other online and virtual assistant directories that allow you to research and find the best person for your needs. Even a website like Task Rabbit can help you find someone to do a task as menial as prepping fruit and veggies for an upcoming party.
Budget for Little Luxuries
These five little luxuries make your life easier, especially as a busy professional trying to juggle a lot at one time. Build them into your budget and you’ll stay on track while having more time for the things you love, like dinner with friends or a long weekend away.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer, consultant and business owner. She and her husband recently paid off $20K in debt in just one year, and her work as been featured in financial publications like Market Watch, SoFi and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect on LinkedIn.