One of the things that dawned on me as the plumber came to my home last week and began installing a sump pump so that my basement wouldn’t (hopefully) flood again, is that many of us pay quite a bit for convenience. We know that convenience costs money, whether we pay a $3 “convenience fee” when we buy concert tickets online, or whether we pay someone to do something we can’t do ourselves.
How Much Are You Willing to Pay for Convenience?
Before you pay for any sort of convenience, it is a good idea to do a cost and benefit analysis of whether it is worth it to pay someone else to take care of something for you. There are some things to keep in mind as you determine whether or not to pay for convenience:
- Value of your time: One of the main considerations is the value of your time. You need to think about what your time is worth to you, and whether or not you want to spend it doing something yourself instead of paying someone else to do it for you. Many people think of their time as being worth what they get paid at a job. You can figure out how much you get paid at your job, and then translate that into a “cost” for you to spend the time to do it.
- Actual cost of the convenience: You can also think about the cost of the convenience. In some cases, the cost is fairly negligible. Paying a $1.50 to buy movie tickets online, in order to avoid standing in line and to ensure getting a seat, seems a worthwhile trade to me — if it’s a movie I know will be full.
- Whether you can do it yourself: Another consideration is whether or not you can do it yourself. We put in a fence ourselves, including cutting the panels to the appropriate width, because it cost less for us to buy the equipment, and we had the time to do it ourselves. On the other hand, we didn’t have the equipment to drill holes in our concrete so that we could install the sump pump ourselves, nor were we comfortable with our knowledge of how to do it, so we paid someone else to do it. There are some things that you should pay others to do, especially if you could wind up with a more expensive situation if you mess it up.
- Do you enjoy doing it?: Because of the “worth” of my husband’s time, it would probably be more cost efficient to get a neighborhood boy to mow the lawn. However, he enjoys taking the hour and a half to mow the lawn. He likes working outside, and he enjoys the exercise (plus it helps keep him healthy). If you enjoy doing something, and you are confident in your ability to perform the task, there is no reason to pay for someone else to do it.
Of course, the other consideration is whether or not you can afford to pay for the convenience. It may not be an issue if you don’t have the necessary capital. In our case with the pump, we had money in an emergency fund to help pay for it. Suffice to say, it helps to prepare ahead of time, since you never know when you might need the money.