I was raised by a single working mother, and money was tight.
Nights out were to the dollar theatre, her purse bulging with homemade popcorn and 65-cent cans of cola from the grocery-store vending machine.
For a long time, I viewed money as a scarce resource and didn’t mind doing things the hard way if it meant saving a little.
I lost many weekend afternoons in the laundromat waiting for my clothes, schlepped boxes onto $US30 U-Haul trucks when I had to move, and suffered plenty of late-night flights and long layovers to save on airfare.
But as I got older and advanced in my career, the calculation began to shift. Increasingly, I valued time over money.
My husband and I started dropping off the laundry. (It came back folded!) We hired movers. We even paid extra to fly direct.
I was still careful with my money, of course. It wasn’t until I met a young couple raving about the woman they’d hired to clean their apartment that I even considered getting a housekeeper. That was something only rich people do, I thought. It would be unbearably selfish, not to mention elitist, to ask an outsider to scrub my bathtub … Wouldn’t it?
Some months later I found myself on my hands and knees, cleaning the toilet during the few precious hours I had not dedicated to work, family, or friends. Screw this, I thought; I am more than willing to buy back some time.
That was about a year ago, and ever since a wonderful woman named Molly has been coming once a month to mop, dust, and polish every surface in our two-bedroom apartment.
Walking into a gleaming, lemon-scented home to find everything in its place is well worth the $US80 a visit. Indeed, buying the luxury of turning to my husband on Sunday to ask, “So what do you want to do today?” may be the best money I’ve ever spent.
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