Editor's Note: Today's post comes from reader Alex in Chicago. We have no financial relationship.
As many of you are about to embark on your Biglaw associate career, you are no doubt thinking that the demands on your time might be great. Many times, they will be. As I started my own career, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to “buy back” time–that is, what tasks or products are worth optimizing/outsourcing compared to their cost? Money might not be able to buy happiness, but money sure can whittle down your to-do list. Which makes me happy.
Wait a sec, I thought the Biglaw Investor told us to cut expenses?
As BLI has described already in detail, getting a handle on your expenses and jacking up your savings rate is the simplest way achieve control over your financial fate. To achieve this, some financial bloggers take a slash-and-burn approach to expenses that some might say approaches comical. (See Early Retirement Extreme [just live in an RV!].)
Of course, to each his own–who are any of us to judge. But, for a variety of reasons, it simply will not be feasible to live in an RV, can your own food, or re-wash Ziploc bags, etc., as a Biglaw associate, even though doing so would achieve a some effect on your savings rate.
Personally, I’ve found that small “splurges” can free up some hours in your week, which you can then use to spend time with loved ones or whatever else you desire. (“Splurge” is in quotes because none of these are as financially obscene as a lease on a new BMW, for example.) In turn, this “time off” lets you to focus more at work and relax when you are not there. Thus, I look at it as though you are spending small sums of money to do a better job at your job. Obviously, only you can prevent forest fires / decide what trade-offs are right for you, but there are many things that I think are worth spending money to not think about.
I give you … my lawyer survival kit
So, what do I personally find worthwhile to “splurge” on? Here are some things that I’ve found give me more benefit (time) than their cost …
Blue Apron. I’ve used it for about a year. I love it. I find cooking really relaxing but shopping for a week’s worth of meals to be dreadful. So, for me, this is perfect. At about $10/meal/person, it frankly is usually a deal compared to the quality you get back compared to what you could get from take out. Obviously, if you have different preferences on cooking, YMMV, but at minimum figuring out some sort of plan for eating during the week can help you avoid chasing a lot of unhealthy options.
Dollar Shave Club. I’ve used it for over three years. Totally reasonable price, and I have not had to expend mental energy thinking about purchasing razors since I started the Club. Definitely beats how I used to manage this item, which was the following scientific process–use the last of the razors in the box until it became too painful to shave, then rush to the nearest convenience store to overspend on another box of three.
Dryv. I’ve used it regularly for about two years. For pick-up and delivery dry cleaning service in Chicago, LA, and Detroit, and I hope it expands. Their prices are comparable to storefront dry cleaners (without having to schlepp), they are flexible about scheduling pick ups and deliveries, and their minimums seem reasonable.
Handy. I’ve used it sporadically for about two years. For apartment cleanings, the prices are really reasonable, and I’ve had generally good experiences with the service. What a great feeling to walk into a clean apartment.
Jet. I’ve used it regularly for about a year. I generally stock up on cleaning and laundry supplies and grooming essentials like soap and shampoo, among other items. This is a definite time saver for me in Chicago, and I imagine that would be even more valuable to someone in NYC. I previously used Amazon Subscribe-and-Save, but it became too byzantine with price and stock changes, and bottles at times were not packaged with anything, so items leaked on arrival. (Jet takes the time to tape bottle caps shut, God bless them.) Its app makes it easy to shop while on public transit, with low minimums for free shipping.
(Editor: I’ll go first. I’ve had good experiences with Jet, as mentioned above. I’m a big fan of Munchery for meals, Alfred for all kinds of home management, TaskRabbit for one-off tasks. I’m sure there’s more.)
Joshua Holt is a practicing private equity M&A lawyer and the creator of Biglaw Investor. Josh couldn’t find a place where lawyers were talking about money, so he created it himself. He spends 10 minutes a month on Personal Capital keeping track of his money and is always negotiating better student loan refinancing bonuses for readers of the site.
Four thoughts on Your Lawyer Survival Kit
My wife and I tried Blue Apron recently and we enjoyed it. We like trying different recipes and different ingredients that we usually don’t have. I’m not sure if we would do it every week though…it gets hectic with kids. By the time we get home, sometimes it can be kind of late and we’re a bit rushed. I think I’m gonna have to try Munchery though…hadn’t heard of it. Sounds very convenient and quick.
I haven’t tried Blue Apron, but Munchery is a life saver. The food is decently healthy. There’s a huge market for healthy food delivery in NYC and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more companies like this have a lot of success. Prices are still pretty reasonable. I’m all in favor of taking VC’s money while they’re trying to build a user base. 🙂
A quality condo/house cleaner. Ours comes once every two weeks, and costs $120 to clean our three bedroom/two bath condo, including changing and cleaning all the bedding, vacuuming/mopping, dusting, deep cleaning the bathrooms and kitchens, wiping down counters/tables, and generally making our place clean (a pretty awesome accomplishment given that we have a dog and a two year old toddler).
That money, once every two weeks, is DEFINITELY worth every penny of free time it buys myself and my wife. Having free time on the weekends/during the week to spend with the toddler that might otherwise be spent doing that cleaning is worth it, as is the freedom to work on other projects/work stuff without thinking about how dusty the living room is/how long it’s been since you vacuumed, etc.
Completely agree. Easily worth the money. It’s by far the last thing I would give up if I needed to scale back on lifestyle. It looks like the cool kids are using services like Handy to get the same thing.