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Lawn Mowing Hustlers

by J. Money on Tuesday, March 26, 2013

mow lawn funny

It’s funny to think about cutting grass as I look out on ours and it’s completely covered with snow (about time Mother Nature! you’ve been weak to DC all season!), but with Spring around the corner it seems the hustlers are ready to pounce. And rightfully so.

If there’s one thing I hate about home ownership, it’s all the upkeep. Now lawn mowing isn’t the worst of them – it can be nice out there under the sun! – but I’ll admit there are plenty of times I put it off for whatever reason makes the most sense at the time. I feel like it’s one of those things you have to “be in the mood” for similar to re-organizing your closet or cleaning up the house. If you’re not feelin’ it you can be miserable. Same if there’s no music blasting to keep you sane ;)

And this is what the hustlers count on.

The other day I took Baby Money out for a walk, and immediately as I turned the corner I saw a perfectly placed memo taped to a tree (who knew duct tape worked on bark?). It was one of those ads with those “fingers” at the bottom cut conveniently so you can pull off a little sliver with the persons name and number on it for future reference. As if no one kept cell phones on them at all times :)

Here’s the gist of what it said:

“$20 to have your lawn cut. Or $40/mo to have it cut every single week.”

Now I’m no mathematician, but $10 a cut is a ton better than $20 a cut. So immediately my attention was caught. “Only $40/mo? To never have to cut my lawn this Summer? Awesome! Sign me up!” Only to realize that our grass doesn’t really NEED to be cut every single week, haha… maybe not even every *other* week!

But I’ll admit it’s damn good marketing. A) You first throw out a high crappy number that I doubt anyone would take (we don’t have large yards in this community), then B) You can get the same exact service for half the price. Only you’re now paying double what you normally would because, again, you don’t need your grass cut every single week. On the other hand you’re also paying for peace of mind which admittedly could make the entire price tag worth it by itself.

It reminds me of the time when I wanted to get a “yes” from my parents back in high school for a weekend trip w/ my friends, but everyone told me they’d say no and to ask them on a bigger crazier trip first to set it up right ;) So I did – I asked to go on a *week* long trip that was happening w/ our school (which of course I didn’t want to go on) in hopes they’d turn it down and then be more keen on the smaller, weekend getaway, haha… And it worked!! I mean who knows if they would have said yes anyways, but I’d like to think our scheming played a nice part in this particular case ;)

Back to lawn mowing though, I think we’ll have to pass since it’s not really that cumbersome to do ourselves every few weeks, and the fact we’re moving in early Summer doesn’t warrant it either. But oddly enough I’ve considered running my OWN lawn cutting service too and ran the numbers/timing/effort/etc just to see if it was worth it. And the magic number for it to be the case was actually $20 a lawn :) But I was in no position (and still not) to start yet another gig purely for the money. I feel like you really have to LIKE this one to pull it off with an ounce of sanity still left, unless of course it was  your full-time job and our livelihood depended on it.

Anywho, food for thought for any of you starting your own services in the near future, and how the power of marketing can really do your business some good. We’ll see if any of my neighbors take these Yard Hustlers up on their monthly peace-of-mind service here, but if the now balled up ads crumbled next to these trees are any indication of their future success (maybe an environmentalist got pissed?) the future doesn’t look too good for them. Womp womp.

Would you pay for such a service? What about starting your OWN in your neighborhood?

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[Photo by Qfamily]


{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 My Financial Independence Journey March 26, 2013 at 5:41 am

I hate yard work. Hate it. I would likely pay someone else to cut my lawn if I had a big yard or lived somewhere with oppressively hot summers. Otherwise, I’d probably do it myself since it would be less burdensome.

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2 Retire By 40 March 26, 2013 at 11:41 am

I hate yard work too. Our summer is so short and I hated spending so much time mowing, weeding, gardening, etc… That’s one reason why we live in a condo now. :)

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3 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 10:34 am

A bit pro to condo living! I miss that :(

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4 Money Beagle March 26, 2013 at 7:55 am

Taking care of the yard is something I actually enjoy doing. A lot of tasks around the house I dread doing, but taking out the mower and stuff is something that doesn’t bother me. So, for me, I’ve never considered using a service.

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5 Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies March 26, 2013 at 8:09 am

That deal isn’t too common around here, but it requires a long-term contract. Because here, your grass needs to be mowed maybe every 3-4 weeks in the winter, and that’s only if you water it. In the summer on the other hand, if you’re not mowing it every week, the neighbor’s chihuahua is going to get lost in the forest pretty quickly!
So it’s a losing proposition for the lawn guys in the summer, but in the winter they more than make up for it.

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6 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 10:33 am

haha…. silly chihuahuas

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7 Lance @ Money Life and More March 26, 2013 at 8:18 am

I cut yards when I was a kid but looking back I definitely wasn’t very good at it compared to the pros. I’d like to think I was pretty discounted compared to the pros, but I think the people who paid me just wanted to help a kid out.

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8 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 10:33 am

yeah, people are nice like that :) I’ll be doing the same whenever a kid knocks on my door! unless I have the baby doing it by then, haha…

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9 John S @ Frugal Rules March 26, 2013 at 8:22 am

Oh, how I hate cutting the grass. Last year it died on us actually so I did not have to worry with it. ;) That said, I think I am too cheap to pay someone to cut my grass. It generally only needs to be done every few weeks and is a good excuse to get outside.

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10 Brian March 26, 2013 at 8:27 am

My dad paid for our lawn to be cut last summer as my father’s day gift. He said with the new baby I didn’t have time to do it (that and he broke my lawn mower while I was in the hospital). It was a pretty sweet deal for him since my lawy went all of July and August without needing to be cut due to extreme heat.

I looked into paying someone, but everyone wanted $35 or more a go and it just isn’t worth it to me to pay that much. I mean it only takes 1.5 hours of my life to do it and it is kind of relaxing. On top of that my lawn usually needs to be mowed twice a week during the summer (except for August).

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11 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:33 am

Excellent father’s day present! And isn’t it cool that we’re now fathers?? And strange??

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12 Brian March 28, 2013 at 8:09 am

Pressure is on now… Have to figure out what to get my old lady for her first mother’s day… any suggestions?

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13 J. Money March 29, 2013 at 8:05 pm

A full night of waking up with baby yourself and letting her sleep? :)

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14 Kacie March 26, 2013 at 9:44 am

Our third acre yard isn’t that big, but without a drought needs mowed weekly, if not twice weekly in the summer. Last year like many others, our grass went dormant. My husband likes the task so for now he’ll do it

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15 Michelle March 26, 2013 at 9:50 am

We are thinking about paying someone this summer to mow our lawn and also help with gardening. I’m just so bad!

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16 Kevin @ RewardBoost March 26, 2013 at 10:32 am

I cut lawns as a kid. I hated it, but I wanted some extra money.

Now that I own a house I bought a reel mower (not gas powered) and I’m really excited about it because I can do it early in the morning or late at night when it’s not so hot and it won’t piss off my neighbors!

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17 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

Haha yes – that’s important, esp. on weekends!

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18 K March 26, 2013 at 10:32 am

I think it depends on how big your yard is. If you have a townhouse, you might as well do it yourself. If you live on 1 or 2 acres… it’s worth paying for the service. I live in MD and it get so humid, I feel like I’m going to pass out walking to the mailbox sometimes. Theres no way that I would sit outside on a lawn mower for over an hour.

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19 Canadian Budget Binder March 26, 2013 at 10:35 am

Yes, we have the lawn hustlers, College Painters and the weed control already knocking on our door. The marketing tactics they used in your post work for almost every company that wants to make customers believe they are getting a great deal and it works like a charm. It’s a perception of saving money and if people “think” they are getting a deal they will pounce on it just like this lawn hustler hopes. He/She knows most people can add and subtract and it doesn’t take a genius to see that and he/she is banking on that.

An example I have of that is I love Greek Yogurt but it’s costly $4.99 for a tub of my favourite yogurt at a discount grocer. We were at a higher end grocer the umbrella store of the discount story (same company)and they reduce items by putting a 50% off pink sticker on the products to move them fast same as the discount shop. Here’s the kicker though, that day when I noticed my favourite yogurt with the pink sticker at the higher end shop the regular price of the yogurt read, I kid you not $8.99. Yes I couldn’t stop laughing because that’s marketing at it’s best. They aren’t loosing money but they make the consumer believe they are getting a better deal because they jack up the price.

The next week that same yogurt at the higher end store reg price $5.99 is on the shelf but one week earlier to move it the price was $8.99. People would presume if they didn’t know their prices they were getting a stellar deal and that is why it’s so important to know your prices on anything not just groceries or shop around, get second opinions or sleep on it.

Clearly this person knows what they are doing and is ready to make some cash cutting lawns!!! Great post!

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20 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:38 am

HAH! Man they’re sneaky :) Gotta love it though – that’s biz!

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21 Sarah March 26, 2013 at 10:50 am

We have a half-acre with many “obstacles” (trees, road signs, landscaping, curbing, etc.) so it’s an absolute pain in the butt to do ourselves – especially without the right equipment.

The best rate we can get around here is $30 per mow, as needed. Definitely more than you’re paying, but we have the highest gas prices in the country and snow on the ground for about 6 months of the year. It’s definitely not easy to make a living mowing lawns in NY.

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22 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:38 am

Oh geez, I bet!

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23 Matt @ My Coin Blog March 26, 2013 at 10:51 am

I would pounce on that in a heartbeat down here in Florida! I literally have to cut my grass every 5 days in the summer.

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24 Julie March 26, 2013 at 10:52 am

This is one of the reasons I chose to buy a condo… because I didn’t want to have to deal with the lawn cutting or snow removal. ;)

But c’mon… you don’t want to be like Patrick Dempsey in “Can’t Buy Me Love”… and ride off into the sunset on a lawnmower with Mrs J$??

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25 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:38 am

I don’t think she can handle that amount of sexiness ;)

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26 My Shiny Pennies March 26, 2013 at 11:24 am

Mowing the lawn is an annoying task but not irritating enough for me to fork over $20 for someone else to do it. I mow the front lawn every 10 days or so and stretch the backyard to 3 weeks! Thankfully I don’t have garden enthusiasts for neighbors so my long grass doesn’t stand out too much. Last year’s heat really slowed down the growth so I hardly mowed in July and August, woohoo.

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27 Nick @ ayoungpro.com March 26, 2013 at 11:37 am

Our new home will be done in May and it will be the first time we have had a yard to care for. I’m looking forward to it now, but I imagine I will get sick of it over time.

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28 Nick March 26, 2013 at 11:54 am

No yard here, but I’d love to see how the “campaign” worked for the guy. May I suggest you call the guy in a few weeks to see how effective it was? Sounds like a great plan and a hard-core hustler. Might make for a cool interview…

Oh, and duct tape works on pretty much everything.

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29 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:40 am

Ooh that’s a good idea actually. Although now I have to find the paper again cuz people tore them down and not sure if they’re still scattered across the lawn or not, hmmm…

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30 Grayson @ Debt RoundUp March 26, 2013 at 11:54 am

See, here in NC, I do cut my lawn every week or it would be in trouble. There is a neighbor kid that does it for other people, but I like getting out there and doing it. $20 for the lawn is the right number that many will accept. I had a friend in high school that started a lawn business in his neighborhood and now he is a multi-millionaire with his company spreading a couple of states. It is a lucrative business, but extremely competitive.

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31 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:41 am

oh man, that’s awesome!! A hustler who *made it*!

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32 Jacob Erickson March 26, 2013 at 11:57 am

I love yard work and making our yard look as nice as possible, so this wouldn’t be too interesting for me. Now if someone did marketing like this on a service like laundry, I’d be all over it. It’s a great tactic because grass doesn’t need to be mowed weekly most of the time throughout the entire summer, but they’re still getting paid for it.

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33 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:41 am

haha… I’d like that laundry service too ;) Or rather, my wife would!

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34 KD March 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Love you, J Money! I’m 54…do you know the SNL skit with Mollie Shannon and Betty White about being 50? Anyway, I digress…I am old enough to have learned my money lessons the hard way and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE (that’s alotta capitals) your posts b/c I still learn lots. I’ve forwarded them on to my Sr friends, too!

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35 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:43 am

Haha…. I love you too!

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36 SavvyFinancialLatina March 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I have really bad allergies so I have never mowed the grass. Actually, my brother does too. SO when my parents would pay him $10 to mow the lawn, they would have to turn around and take him to the doctor because his allergies were so bad. Let’s just say they stopped asking him to do it.

I’m not into paying for lawn mowing services when I have my husband to do it :) It’s technically a workout :)

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37 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:44 am

If only you can pick and choose what you’re allergic to so you don’t have to do stuff ;)

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38 Shafi March 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I like to do yard work on a sunny day. For me the hotter the better. I live in the Northeast and for 6 months we live under the blanket of snow, not to mention cold. The doctor told me I lack vitamin D in my system so do most folks in the Northeast. So I welcome summer and do yard work. May that be mowing, planting or just cleaning up the place. For me it’s fun and good exercise as well.

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39 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:44 am

ahhhh, that’s a good idea then! we have to give our baby Vitamin D drops in his mouth every day since he doesn’t get enough either since babies can’t be in the sun and all :)

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40 Edward Antrobus March 26, 2013 at 9:13 pm

$20 seems to be the magic number for lawn mowing. When I was a kid, I got $20 to mow my grandfather’s acre, after college I got $20 to mow a neighbor’s quarrter-acre, and my ex-roommate paid $20 for his 500 square foot back yard! If it wasn’t his little cousin, I would have offered $15 to get the job. That’s still pretty good money for 10 minutes worth of work!

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41 J. Money March 27, 2013 at 11:45 am

I agree – $20 is a nice even number people seem to be okay with… I was *rarely* able to pull that off mowing lawns myself as a kid, but when I did it was like hitting the lottery!! esp since $20 twenty years ago went a lot farther. You know how many packs of cards you could get with that?? :)

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42 Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce March 26, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Very interesting breakdown. Way to think clearly about it!

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43 Mary Anne @ BillGuard March 28, 2013 at 3:40 pm

“Price anchoring” — the act of throwing out an outrageously high price, immediately cutting it to half-off, and tricking people into thinking that they’re getting a great deal — is a common sales tactic. I’m glad that you were able to spot it and recognize it for what it is.

The other day, I brough home some new dishware. The sticker said that the original price was $10 per plate, and I got them for $3 per plate, and someone commented that it was a great deal, 66 percent off. But was the price every REALLY $10 per plate, or was that just anchoring that led me to think I was getting a deal? It’s a rhetorical question, but its worth considering.

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44 J. Money March 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm

As long as you feel like you got a good deal it’s all that matters :)

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45 Sharleen March 30, 2013 at 8:50 am

I live in a very expensive state of Australia, due to the mining boom EVERYTHING is pricey, to get someone to mow my lawn is between 60 to 90 dollars, with the way law grows here it would have to be down once a week or the town council fines you if it’s too long. So for me I mow my own lawn it’s just too expensive for any other option.

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46 J. Money April 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm

oh wow – I’d do my own too in a heartbeat at those rates – jeez!

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47 @pfinMario March 31, 2013 at 9:48 am

In NY, I have no lawn, but if mine grew as slowly as yours, I’d almost certainly do it myself. That said, few things are harder than pricing my own free time…

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48 KK @ Student Debt Survivor March 31, 2013 at 10:59 am

Very clever marketing. We don’t have a lawn (I wish we did). If we had a lawn I’d mow it myself, unless we didn’t have a place to store the mower (this is common for NYers who have 10 by 10 foot plots of grass we like to call a yard.

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49 J. Money April 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Yeah, I sometimes forget that doing a lot of things yourself requires ownership of the tools too which all takes up space. It could get pretty cluttered fast in small places!

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50 Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter April 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm

We have always hated yard work and actually budgeted in lawn service expenses before we even considered buying a home. At our last house, we paid $25 every two weeks from April through October for mowing, edging, weeding, and clean up since our yard was small. Now it’s $38 a pop since our yard is huge and we have 3 flower beds, BUT IT IS TOTALLY WORTH IT. I get to avoid allergies and use my time elsewhere and my lawn guy can make a solid living. It’s a win-win, lol.

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51 J. Money April 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm

why such an odd number? haha… might as well be 39.75! ;)

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52 Ron @ Stock Spinoffs April 8, 2013 at 8:36 pm

$40 per month does sound great. Very good marketing, like you said. I’m trying to think how often I cut my lawn in the summer and honestly can’t remember because it’s been so long. I think I cut it every 2 weeks, and after 2 weeks it tends to get rather long. The worst part is that if you wait a few extra days beyond that, it becomes hard to cut and chokes the lawn mower (if you have a mulching mower rather than a bag mower), so you often have to raise the mower up and not cut it as close.

I definitely think the $40 per month is well worth it for the peace of mind, even if I would never cut my own lawn every week.

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53 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Also don’t forget about all that dang CUT grass that then gets scattered across the lawn that you have to clean up too, ugh… at least with my lawn mowing skills. I have a bag attached to the thing but I swear it doesn’t do anything. Still have to sweep and clean up after the cutting anyways which I’d much prefer to put on someone else ;)

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