You come home from a long day of work to find frozen chicken thighs in the freezer. The thought of thawing them, cooking them and finding a side dish to serve alongside them? Not appealing.
Instead, you pull up Seamless or Grubhub to order dinner from a restaurant near you. You do this even though you’ll have to pay not only for the food but also a delivery fee, too, in most cases. That chicken might already be in your house, but it’s frozen far too solid to be convenient.
And today? People are often willing to pay for convenience – sometimes even rather hefty fees. Do you pay for someone to clean your home? How about to deliver your groceries or mow your lawn? Maybe you even pay for the convenience of a reserved parking spot near your home.
All these conveniences add up. This raises the question: Is the added convenience worth the cost? Are the hassles associated with cleaning your own home, making your own meals and cutting your own grass worth paying someone else to do this work?
“Paying for convenience comes down to the trade-off of money vs. time,” said Brandon Yahn, a San Francisco resident and founder of Student Loans Guy, a website focused on helping consumers save money on their student loans. “People who work jobs with a lot of hours are much more willing to pay for convenience. They don’t have as much free time, so they want to be able to enjoy that down time rather than having to fight traffic on the road and in stores.”
And people who have less demanding jobs and who might work fewer hours? Yahn said that they are usually more willing to take that extra trip to the grocery store or spend a few hours a week cleaning their own homes. They have the time, Yahn says, so saving money is often more important to them.
David Malik-Davies, co-founder of the website My Tax Code, agreed. He said that there will always be two types of people, those who value their time above all else and those who are staunchly opposed to paying for any services that they can do on their own.
Don’t expect the latter group to ever shell out dollars for convenience.
“These people would much rather do something for themselves, no matter how much time it takes,” Malik-Davies said.
Frank Bevacqua, a psychologist and owner of Time To Thrive Business Coaching Services, says that he often discusses this topic with his clients, a mix of business owners and entrepreneurs.
Bevacqua says that his clients are busy people. When they spend time grocery shopping or washing their own cars, they are wasting time that they could instead spend on growing their businesses and their careers.
“We have two main resources available to us: money and time,” Bevacqua said. “Money is renewable. You can always make more. Time, however, is not. We all have the same amount, and only so much of it.”
Because of this, Bevacqua encourages his clients to “buy time.” For example, Bevacqua’s clients can turn what would have been a two-hour shopping trip to a 15-minute online order. Yes, they might have to pay extra to have their items delivered. But they now have extra time that they can spend how they’d like, whether that means spending more time with friends and family members or building their businesses.
When approached this way, the question is a simple one: What’s more valuable to you? The money you’ll save by doing something on your own or the time you’ll save by paying a service or individual to do it for you?
For David Bakke, a personal-finance writer for the Money Crashers blog, consumers need to first look at whether the convenience for which they are considering paying actually brings any real value.
If the nearest grocery store is only a five-minute drive from your home, having groceries delivered to your home might not make financial sense. But if the nearest electronics store is an hour’s drive away, then it probably makes sense for the convenience of potentially paying a bit extra to order your new laptop or tablet online.
“I think you are seeing more consumers paying for convenience, but they need to be careful and do some figuring to make sure that it makes financial sense,” Bakke said.
Rocky Lalvani, a wealth coach and founder of the Richer Soul blog, says that the decision to pay for convenience actually comes down to simple math. People need to know what their hourly rate is, Lalvani said. Say you make $30 an hour and with overtime can earn $45 an hour.
If the convenience of having groceries delivered to your door saves you one hour of time – valued at $45 – then as long as the cost of delivery is less than your hourly rate, it makes economic sense to pay for that delivery, Lalvani said.
Of course, that’s just a rough guide. As with all things in life, the decision to pay for convenience is a bit more complicated.
“We can’t turn everything into a convenience without realizing that we may need to work overtime to pay for it,” Lalvani said. “You also have to determine how much you enjoy the act itself. You may like going to Best Buy and being able to touch the product. Life is full of choices. Knowing our rate makes these decisions easier.”
What do you pay for that’s strictly because of convenience? Let us know in the comments below!
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.