The fact is that even with the best budget or meticulously scrutinized expenses, you never know when an unexpected curveball might come your way and cause the need to do it all again. Our cleaning service is far and away the most frivolous thing we spend on each month, so there’s no doubt that it needs to go. But just for kicks, let’s walk through the evaluation process.

Last week, I felt great about my decision to keep our cleaning service. After much evaluation, my husband and I decided that the value that this luxury provides to our life far outweighs not having it. Then our home state of Illinois passed a retroactive and unprecedented increase in state income tax, which for us eliminates the amount we spend on the cleaning service each month and then some. Time for a repeat analysis.


The fact is that even with the best budget or meticulously scrutinized expenses, you never know when an unexpected curveball might come your way and cause the need to do it all again. Our cleaning service is far and away the most frivolous thing we spend on each month, so there’s no doubt that it needs to go. But just for kicks, let’s walk through the evaluation process.


Stress reliever


If I started by asking if I had the cash for this expense, the answer would be a resounding “no,” so humor me as I traverse this checklist backwards. Having a clean house is a total stress reliever for me, my husband and even our young children, who are very appreciative of the sparkling state we’re in on cleaning day. And even though we do keep it clean on our own, jobs like dusting baseboards or cleaning unused bathtubs are tasks that, if I’m being honest, rarely get done when it’s just me on the job. 


Long-term benefits


For me, there are certainly long-term benefits to a clean house. It makes my proverbial load feel lighter. Heck, it makes my house feel bigger. The clutter must be cleared for our service’s regular visit, so I feel a sense of accomplishment from going through paperwork, sorting out the good stuff and recycling the rest. My kids learn the good habit of keeping horizontal surfaces free and clear and toy baskets get a good purge. This all makes living in our home more comfortable, and what’s more beneficial that that?


Cash


And it all ends here. With this new paycheck deduction, the bottom line is that the cleaning money is going to Uncle Sam instead of the cleaning service. As much as I want to use the above arguments to convince myself, you and the financial gods that we can make it work; it’s just the wrong thing to do. I heard Bob Greene, Oprah Winfrey’s fitness expert of many years, says something on her show this week that really hit home. He was talking about weight loss, but the advice crosses all kinds of barriers. He said, "I've never seen anyone successful long term that couldn't make at least one or more tough decisions." Ain’t that the truth? I cancelled the service last Thursday.


Molly Logan Anderson is a freelance writer who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Mike, three kids and two labs. Join Molly on her family’s journey of living a frugal life and making financial freedom their reality.