The Cost Of Convenience

We’re all willing to pay a little extra for the sake of convenience – whether that’s buying an Amazon Prime membership so that we can have our purchases delivered the day after we make them, or stocking up on ready meals to cut down on the time we spend in the kitchen. There are even a number of subscription services (Graze, Gousto and the like) for time-strapped individuals who don’t have a spare moment to sit down and plan out a healthy diet.

But how much does convenience cost us – and is there a point where it really isn’t worth its while? Let’s take the example of pre-made sandwiches. If you’re short on time when it comes to lunch, spending three dollars on a sandwich might not seem like such a bad deal – especially when there are more expensive options available. However, break down that sandwich and cost out the constituent parts and you’ll likely find that making the same meal yourself would have cost slightly less than a dollar.

In the example above, you pay approximately two dollars for the convenience of not having to make and transport your own lunch. Is it worth it? Maybe. It depends a lot on how much you value your time. Let’s say that making your own lunch each day adds an extra ten minutes to your morning routine. Those ten minutes save you two dollars, which makes the hourly rate of your savings twelve dollars. If you rate your time as worth twelve dollars or less, then you’re effectively making a saving by making your own sandwich. If you consider your time to be worth more than twelve dollars, by all means grab lunch on the road.

Coffee is another fine example. Most people won’t hesitate to pay two dollars or more for a fresh cup of coffee in the morning, but by some estimates they could be paying anywhere from ninety cents, to one dollar ninety cents just for the convenience of getting their morning brew made for them at their local Starbucks. That may not seem like much in isolation, but assuming they drink just one cup every working day, the total savings they might make by brewing their coffee at home could be as much as five hundred dollars per year.

Of course, this numeric approach isn’t perfect – convenience isn’t just about saving time, after all – but it’s a useful thought experiment to determine whether the little conveniences that you pay for on a daily basis are worth it after all. It’s surprising how much small expenses like this can mount up, and when you look at the figures you’ll likely be surprised by just how much you’re paying for convenience.

The solution to a hefty convenience bill is not, however, to cut back on all of these luxuries. Few people have the time or patience to make their own orange juice, do their own dry cleaning, or patiently put together nutritionally-balanced meals each day. Instead, consider examining each convenience and consciously deciding whether it’s worth the money it costs. The internet abounds with convenience items that are obviously not worth the added expense – cut these from your daily life, while preserving those that genuinely save you time and energy and you could be on the road to significant savings.

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