The Cost of Convenience

convenience cost

The Cost of Convenience

In today’s day and age, life seems to only get busier. Many people are managing careers, side hustles, families, friendships, pets, aging parents, young children, and more. We have all become master jugglers.

Everyone is given the same twenty four hours in a day to accomplish everything. In the quest to manage everything, people are increasingly relying on convenience and quick-fixes to get through the day. But at what cost?

I’ve totally been there myself—strapped for time and willing to pay the “convenience fee” to keep me going. Here are some common convenience costs that are costing you money.

ATM Fees: How many times have you needed some cash, but you weren’t near an ATM in your bank’s network? Paying $1-$3 for the convenience of using another ATM adds up quickly! I always cringe a little when I have to do this, as it feels like you are just throwing away money.

Solution: Keep some cash in your wallet at all times. Replenish before you get desperate by going to your bank and withdraw cash for free.

Overdraft Fees: Luckily, I have not dealt with overdraft fees as I’m pretty obsessed with looking at my checking account and knowing what is going in and out. However, overdrawing happens more than we think. According to Statistic Brain, 18% of people have overdrawn their accounts in the past year. In 2013 alone, $33.8 billion was spent on overdraft fees. That is an insane amount of money!

Solution: Monitor your checking account every day. If overdraft fees are an issue for you, perhaps avoid automatic payments and stick to manually transferring over money. Just be sure to put those dates in a calendar so you don’t miss the deadline!

Pre-packaged Food: Pre-packaged food can be a lifesaver when you are in a rush. But you are definitely paying a lot more for the convenience. From my own research, I’d venture to say that you are paying between 25-50% more on buying something pre-made, rather than making it yourself. In addition, pre-made foods often have a lot more unhealthy additives to preserve it, as well as often having more sodium and sugar than you might have wanted, which isn’t the best for your health.

Solution: Pick one day a week to batch cook. Meal plan for the week so you know what you will be eating. If you are really in a rush, you can stick to a tried and true easy-to-make lunch: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Enjoy fresh fruits and make lots of salad. Investing in a crock pot is good for making soups and stews.

Coffee on-the-go: You’re tired, you are running late to work, and they only serve Folgers at work. There is no amount of sugar or milk that will make it taste good. I feel your struggle! Coffee can be anywhere from $2-$3 for just the black stuff. For fancier drinks, you are looking closer to $5. I treat myself a couple times a year to a $5 mocha, but in general I think paying $5 for a coffee drink is crazy. We all know Starbucks fanatics who just cannot survive without their Venti Soy Frappacinos! If you go to Starbucks every day during the work week, you are spending at least $100 a month on coffee. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on something else?

Solution: Invest in an automatic coffee maker. You can set the timer and have it ready to go when you wake up. If you are like me, and still enjoy going out for coffee, come up with a budget and limit it during the week. Also, try to get some more sleep!

Paying for convenience can be worth it at times, but paying for it every day just to deal with a busy life adds up quickly. It’s probably a sure sign to slow things down and really evaluate your priorities. For me, I often justify convenience spending as I usually see it as helping me make money, i.e. continue working. But in the end, it’s not really worth making extra money if you are just going to spend it right away just to get by. Start looking at your schedule, your priorities and commitments. Try to make things in bulk and streamline your processes. Prepare lunches the night before. Plan ahead by looking at your calendar and anticipating your needs.

Are you paying for convenience?

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Melanie blogs about breaking up with debt at DearDebt.com and invites others to write breakup letters to their debt as well. She’s accumulated a total of $81k in student loan debt between two degrees. Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. Melanie enjoys travel, art, music, adventure, and of course, personal finance.