4 Areas to Consider Before Paying for Convenience

by Miranda Marquit · 6 comments

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.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Kate says:

    I have a maid, although my Mama thinks this is an extravagance, for two reasons: (1) my eyesight is poor, and the only way I can be sure the floors and the bathroom are clean is to get down next to them which makes it very hard to do any cleaning. The maid has eyes like a gimlet; she doesn’t miss anything; (2) why should I waste my time doing housework, anyway, when I don’t like housework and the maid needs a job? I also buy microwave Lean Cuisine and Smart Choice when it’s on sale, because I need to eat balanced meals but I’m too tired when I get home and otherwise just stop at Wendy’s which is delicious but not healthy every day.

  • Megan @ MoneyAisle says:

    I agree, I started realizing a lot of ways I was paying for convenience. Primarily when I started walking instead of paying for a train pass while I was living in the city, and ended up saving $15 a week, and was in better shape. All it really takes is the consideration of the points mentioned above, and a little self-discipline.

  • Robert says:

    …and then there is “convenience foods.” I noticed that my daughter had “microwaveable” oatmeal packaged in its own bowl in her cupboard. I fix oatmeal every morning for myself by putting a cup of quick oats in my own bowl, heating a cup of water, then pouring the hot water in the bowl. I can’t imagine that she is saving that much time by using the microwave. I do know I am saving a heap of change doing it the old-fashioned way.

  • Briana @ GBR says:

    Great point Miranda. I’m reading the 4 Hour Workweek and one of the things Tim touches on is knowing your worth. If it’ll save you time and you can afford to pay for it, go for it.

  • Jenna says:

    Another thing to consider is what are your other goals. If you paying for the convenience of eating out every day instead of packing lunch / making dinner. That could hold you back from other financial goals like getting out of debt or going on vacation.

  • Lynn says:

    Perfect example – I paid an extra 50 cents a pound for already-sliced meat last night. I needed to make dinner but I was NOT about to slice meat after doing groceries. =P

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