Dear Dave: We currently pay to have our lawn mowed each week. This expense is figured into our monthly budget, but we're not quite out of debt yet. My wife says this is a luxury at this point and I should cut the grass myself until we're out of debt. What do you think?
I think it depends a lot on your income. If you're a surgeon making $350,000 a year, then making lawn care part of your monthly budget is probably pretty reasonable. Now, if you're only making $26,000 a year, you probably need to get behind the mower and start pushing it yourself.
Is this a snobbish attitude? I don't think so. It's a simple matter of mathematics. What is your personal time worth in the marketplace, and should you be plying your trade out in the world rather than mowing the lawn?
Let's say you're an attorney who charges $400 an hour. In that case, you're probably going to be better off out there lawyering - especially if you're trying to get out of debt - than you would pushing a mower. But if you make $12 an hour, it's a good idea for you to be cutting your own grass, isn't it?
Whether or not something is a "luxury" depends on your own personal income and financial situation. That's how I look at it.