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Time and money are intricately linked and almost no one feels as if they have enough of either. While time spent working generally earns you money, increasingly people are investing that money to buy back some of the precious bits of their days.
The gateway to paying for convenience is often through the belly. Even people who wouldn’t dream of paying for a car wash or a manicure are willing to fork over the cash for pizza delivery.
“Our job’s basically to make your life easier,” said Pizza Mizza co-owner Sean Ebadi, whose company delivers beer, wine, ice cream, DVDs, diapers, cigarettes and other items along with pizzas. He estimates about 20 percent of his customers use the extended delivery services, with families as his largest clientele.
“I love all the delivery options in Isla Vista,” said Katie Davis, a mother of two who lives in nearby Storke Ranch. Her family also eats out a lot and when they do eat at home she often relies on prepared foods.
“When I’m busy, cooking is the first thing to go,” said Helen Evans, a single mother of two.
Eric Thomas, co-owner of Store 2 Door, has made a business out of shopping for other people. While the majority of his time is spent purchasing and delivering groceries, he’ll also pick produce at a Farmers Market, get prescriptions at drug stores and select gifts at department stores. Many of his customers began the service when they were sick or recovering from surgery, had new babies or other reasons they couldn’t leave their houses, then converted into regulars as they got hooked on the convenience of leaving the shopping to someone else.
Businesses are also taking advantage of these timesaving services. When Leslie A. Lund started Lundann Express more than 20 years ago, her business was primarily errands and deliveries. Over the years she’s picked up and/or delivered a bird from the veterinarian, a poodle from the groomer, urns of ashes from the airport, and even a six-pack of Budweiser (on doctor’s orders) to a patient at the hospital. Now, however, most of her revenue comes from businesses, which book her drivers for regular daily pickups of documents, mail and bank deposits.
“Companies don’t want to pay their secretary to do something we can do more efficiently,” said Lund.
Once considered a luxury, home-cleaning services are now moving into the realm of necessity, said Joanne Stafford, owner of the Cleaning Dolls. Over the past 14 years she’s seen a dramatic increase in business, more than 50 percent, she estimated.
“Stress has really played an extra role in people trying to keep all those balls in the air,” she said, adding that her service really increases the quality of life for people. “It frees them up to spend time with their kids.”
Davis agrees. “I resisted having a house cleaner at first, it was really hard to change,” she said. “But now I can’t imagine how I lived without it.”
Some cleaning services also provide laundry service, a temptation in itself.
“I try to buy all of the same kinds of socks, so I don’t have to match them and I send my shirts to the dry cleaners, so I don’t have to spend time ironing them,” said Dr. Michael Bordofsky, a father of four.
Several area dry cleaners also offer pickup and delivery service, making the process even more convenient. Davis takes laundry efficiency a step further by only buying wash-and-wear clothing. “No ironing, no dry cleaning, period,” she said. It’s survival of the fittest at her house. If a label says, “dry clean only” she’ll throw it in the washer and take her chances.
While most of us would love to stop doing laundry, sometimes even fun chores like walking the dog need to be delegated to others. That’s where Suzy Godsey comes in. Her company, the Happy Dog, will exercise dogs, housesit for them and occasionally even take them to the vet. She said her typical customers are working professionals who just need some help.
Paperwork is another time-consuming area some people are willing to pay to avoid. While CPA services are becoming standard at tax time, many people are also turning to automated bill pay or money managers to deal with their monthly expenses. Ph.D. Organizational Services, owned by Dawn Hampton, takes this service a step further by managing people’s health insurance claims for them.
Hampton’s clients are typically professional people who are extremely busy and want to make sure they are getting what they’re supposed to from their insurance.
“Life is so busy, you can’t read all the documents that come in the mail,” she said. “Having someone else to deal with it gives you piece of mind. … It’s definitely less stressful to just give it to me and let me worry about it.”
Talking dollars and cents with children
My grandpa used to tell me “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Now we have to teach our children it doesn’t grow from ATMs either. Here are some ways to help teach kids the value of money.
• Communicate with children as they grow about your values concerning money — how to save it, how to make it grow, and most important, how to spend it wisely.
• Help children learn the differences between needs, wants and wishes. This will prepare them for making good spending decisions in the future.
• Separate the concepts of investing and saving. Teach savings with the traditional piggy bank or passbook savings account. Don’t forget to add interest in the form of a few pennies for every quarter they save.
• Let your children make money decisions from an early age. Sit down and work out a budget based on necessities and discretionary choices.
• Make sure your child understands the connection between work and paychecks and taxes.
• When your child is at an appropriate age, encourage him or her to get some work experience.
Originally published in South Coast Beacon on September 23, 2004.