The On-Demand Economy: Don’t Fall Prey

The consumer driven society we live in has a thing about instant gratification. When people want something, they want it right that second. And technology companies and businesses are capitalising on this by rolling out goods and services that cater to this incessant, immediate want, with the rapid explosion of the on-demand economy (also known as the Access Economy or Convenience Economy).

What is the On-Demand Economy?
Source: Business Insider

The broad definition of the on-demand economy is “the economic activity created by technology companies that fulfill consumer demand via the immediate provisioning of goods and services.” (source: Business Insider).

And it’s very big business too; according to the Harvard Business Review, the on-demand model is attracting more than 22.4 million consumers annually and $57.6 billion in spending (and those figures are from 2015).

To give you an example of a service that falls under the umbrella of the on-demand economy, a company I have seen advertising a lot use the slogan, “We do chores, you live life” for their services.

The company has an app where you can find people to do everyday chores or bigger tasks for you; you fill out your requirements and they pair you with someone from their list of people who have signed up with them.

 

Services to choose from include

  • Minor Home Repair
  • Mounting and Installation
  • Furniture Assembly
  • Moving & Packing
  • House Cleaning
  • Garden Work
  • Home Improvement

The glaring obvious here is the everyday nature of these services. These aren’t services that are indulgent or extravagant – like having a Michelin star chef come to your house and cook you dinner. These are ordinary tasks that are a part of everyday life; mowing the lawn, putting Ikea furniture together, cleaning your house or hanging some curtains.

‘I’m Just SO Busy’

People can proclaim they lead too busy a life to fit these tasks in and are happy to pay for things to get done. Long hours in the office and commuting, looking after a family, seeing friends and making time for hobbies – all these things can leave little time to scrub that toilet. Or maybe they have an injury or chronic condition and can’t do things like tend to the garden or hang a picture. But in that instance, don’t make the default response to go to an app and pay an inflated price for the service. Ask family or friends for help or speak to a neighbour and find someone trusted and probably cheaper.

Reading between the lines of the company’s slogan, “we do chores, you live life”, if you aren’t doing any of the ordinary, everyday tasks you can pay someone to do, chances are you’re probably doing something else that is likely costing money; going to the gym, brunch with friends, shopping or maybe a round of golf. Because obviously the *only things* to do in life are the things that cost money.

Don’t read this as the only way to live your life is to hole yourself up indoors and spend every minute doing chores and having no fun. That’s not the point. The point is to manage your money effectively. Most people have the ability to cook, to clean their house, to mow the lawn and clean the car. Yes, it might not be glamorous but in-sourcing can lead to reducing your monthly outgoings, resulting in more money that can be saved for an emergency fund or retirement.

I’m Not Immune

I’ve had terrible commutes in the past. My worst was 2 hours each way which I did for 2 years. I then spent over 2 years with a 1 hour 45 minute commute each way. I spent the majority of those years bone achingly exhausted – so exhausted that I was convinced I must have had an auto-immune disease. Surely, you can’t be that tired and not be ill? Turns out, you can – welcome to adulthood!

Throughout that time, I did everything myself – cooked dinner every night, made packed lunches, cleaned the house every week, maintained our car, did basic DIY. And I’m not saying all this to get sympathy; I’m illustrating a real world example that I would bet good money on, the majority of adults experience too.

In reality, when I had my first job which came with the 4 hours commuting a day, we couldn’t afford to pay anyone to do anything for us – we were both just starting our professional careers and had a wedding to save up for.

However, once we were married and had more spare cash each month, something snapped in me. I had a little episode where I basically huffed and puffed and stamped my feet, saying I was so exhausted, I can’t possibly carry on and do the housework every week – we needed to get a cleaner.

I felt like I was justified in getting one, like my life would be so much better if someone cleaned my dirty house each week. But as much as I proclaimed I just couldn’t go on cleaning the house, we never did get a cleaner. I simply couldn’t completely justify it in my head. I knew that £30 a week would turn into £1,500 a year and with a Christmas bonus thrown in, I just couldn’t part with the cash, knowing I was paying for a service that I could (and had done for years) do myself.

Insource, Insource, Insource

Now, with our mindset firmly set on squirreling as much of our income away as possible to enable us not to need 9-5’s, I scoff at the idea of why anyone would pay someone to do something they can do themselves. We didn’t become people who paid for services, even though we are the demographic these services target (work full time, live in a city, earn good money). And I’m so glad we didn’t as we already had healthy savings at the outset.

From dog walking, to prepared meal delivery and laundry services to house-cleaning and home repairs, it simply astounds me how much people are willing to pay for these services, at the expense of their future financial security.

Insource, people! Don’t give your hard earned money away so easily! Insource, so the one time you actually need to pay for a service, you’re not paying on a credit card because you’ve got a healthy emergency fund stashed away. Insourcing can also be a way to learn a new skill and it also, most importantly, gives you options. The less you have going out, the more control you have.

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2 Comments

  1. With that advent of Youtube I always try to do something first. If I can’t get it right then I can always call a professional. But I feel like at this point why not at least try and save a couple of bucks 🙂

    1. Definitely! We always try to insource first and I agree – YouTube is amazing for learning new skills. Those couple bucks saved here and there really do add up.

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