Opting for convenience could very well be blowing your budget every month and you may not even realize it.
Retailers know that we all love faster, easier options and they willingly supply them but at what cost? Most convenience items are sold at a premium price. Here are a few ways that you can avoid the hidden cost of convenience and save your budget.
10 Ways Convenience Can Cost You
1. Eating Out
I started with this one because I have first-hand knowledge of how rapidly eating out adds up. This was a major weakness of mine until I started meal planning and prepping my food each week.
Restaurants are expensive and, with the added costs of travelling there plus tips, they can really eat into your budget. Fast food, while cheaper, still packs a punch to your purse and waistline.
Cook your meals at home. If your excuse is that you’re too busy during the week, pick a time over the weekend and prep your meals then.
Anytime you make a casserole, prepare two and stick one in the freezer. Then, on a day when you’ll be too busy to cook, you can eat that. Just be sure to place it in the fridge the night before to thaw. You will enjoy a home-cooked meal in no time. How about that for convenience?
2. Convenience Foods
Convenience items like marinated meats, sliced fruits and chopped veggies from the grocery store always cost more. You pay a higher price because someone else did the work for you.
Simply purchase the items and prepare them yourself to avoid additional charges. Add marinade to your meat before storing it in the freezer. It will be delicious when you are ready to use it. Wash and chop whole vegetables and fruits. These can also be stored in the freezer. They will stay fresh longer and you won’t have to chop them every time you need some.
3. Bottled Water
Purchasing bottled water on the go can be quite pricey. Fill up your own reusable bottle at home and take it with you. Attach a filter to the faucet in your kitchen to remove impurities.
Another option is to buy bottled water in bulk. Buying it in large quantities cuts down on the price significantly.
Your daily cup of joe from the coffee shop could be costing you big time. Even if you only spent $2 on coffee everyday for one year, that totals $730! Suddenly that $2 price tag seems like a lot, doesn’t it? You could use that money to pay your mortgage off faster.
Keurig coffee makers, for example, allow you to easily brew flavoured coffee, tea and more right from home. Use a thermos to take the coffee to work or when you are running errands.
5. Vending Machines
Vending machines are always so well-placed, aren’t they? No need to go looking for a store when you’re hungry and want a quick snack. The items from vending machines are more expensive than if you had, in fact, bought them from a grocery store.
In order to avoid these costs, bring your own snacks from home even when you don’t think you will be out for a long time. You never know when temptation will strike. Stash a granola bar, some fruit or nuts in your bag for just such an occasion.
6. ATM Fees
ATM machines offer easy access to cash when you need it but when you use an ATM that is outside of your bank’s network, you pay for it.
Avoid these fees by doing the following:
- Only use ATM machines within your bank’s network.
- Stop at the bank monthly and withdraw cash from your account there. This is a good technique to use if you are on a budget and need a tangible reminder of how much you spend.
- Get cash back at the register.
- Use a rewards card to pay for purchases.
Everyone enjoys the convenience of having items delivered straight to their door but doing this regularly can impact your budget. Not only are you paying for the item itself, you also need to consider the delivery fee and the tip.
The obvious alternative is to get up and go for the item yourself. In addition to saving money, there are other advantages to doing this:
- You may get the item faster than waiting on the scheduled delivery date
- Some businesses provide in-store offers only e.g. pizza restaurants
- No more missed deliveries or stolen packages
You may routinely spend money to pay for the convenience of having others complete tasks you can easily do. Mowing the lawn, shoveling snow and cleaning the house are all examples of these services.
If you are on a budget, cut out the service providers and do these chores yourself. Your purse will thank you.
9. Automatic Renewals
How many times have you automatically been charged for a service you no longer use? Many companies possess saved payment information and charge you without notification.
Ensure you do not contribute to their bottom line while yours suffers. When you sign up for a new service, deselect the automatic renewal option unless you are certain you will continue to use it. Habitually inspect your bank statements and cancel recurring payments to services you no longer use.
10. Credit Cards
Credit cards are the ultimate convenience. They allow you to spend money whether you have it or not.
Each time you swipe your credit card, you are charged a fee. In addition to that, if you do not clear the balance by the due date, you must pay the high interest incurred.
To eliminate these expenses, either use cash only or ensure that you pay the full credit card balance on time.
Now that you are aware of the hidden cost of convenience, you can avoid these ten budget busters.