Do You Spend More Money for Convenience?
If you know me, you know that one thing I can’t stand is spend-shaming. AKA people who classify types of spending by others as “good” or “bad” and those decisions as “right” or “wrong” and then choose to make their opinions about those known, sometimes even attempting to CHANGE someone else’s spending behaviors. Spend shamers usually aren’t intimately aware of the actual financial situation of the spender, but they often think they are based on the few pieces of financial information they see or are privy to.
I’m pretty sure every single person has spend-shamed at one time or another even if they keep those thoughts to themselves. It’s really hard not to when we all grow up with different ideas about money and what is and isn’t worth spending money on. Many of us learn from our parents (either by actions or words) about what they think is important to spend on and save on and to different degrees. Just like we all tend to think that many of our experiences growing up are “normal” or “right”, the things we learn about spending growing up tend to shape our views about money.
In the past, I’ve definitely been guilty of spend-shaming myself, but it’s something I try to actively avoid now- especially in my capacity as a financial planner. In my 11 years advising clients on their financial decisions, I’ve learned that while people tend to associate certain spending and spending behaviors as virtuous, spending is personal and has little to do with morality. There are no financial decisions that are wholly good or bad, right or wrong. Through having the privilege of working with hundreds of people on their finances and getting to see every aspect of many of their financial lives, I’ve realized that the same financial decision that is the best thing for one client can be the worst for another. Sometimes from a financial perspective, but sometimes from an emotional or values perspective.
I’m a big believer in using your money to achieve the goals that you want- including accommodating the lifestyle you want to live. While I believe that every single person should have spending, saving, and investing as part of their financial plans, I don’t subscribe to the idea that there are rule of thumb percentages that everyone should follow. And because we all have different interests and preferences and value different things, what you spend your money on after you’ve saved and invested is no one’s business but your own.
Personally, I really like spending a little extra money on convenience. For me, time is money. Using Instacart is a great example of how I spend more on convenience in my daily life. I started using Instacart for grocery delivery when I found out I was pregnant during the pandemic. The first time I saw “this order saved you 2 hours of grocery shopping” I was hooked.
Prior to this, I loved grocery shopping because being a great cook means that one of my talents is I can go to the grocery store, see what’s on sale, visualize what’s at home, and end up picking up groceries for amazing meals for the week at crazy deals and have a few items to throw in the deep freeze for later. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find something so satisfying about managing to get out of the grocery store for under $100 and eat what are basically gourmet meals all week.
I always resisted using Instacart, Peapod, Walmart +, and similar apps because I’d used them on occasion in a pinch and it’s just not the same. Prices are higher, sales are different, there’s a convenience fee, and I find it harder to browse. If you don’t know what you want, the shopping piece can take longer and it just really isn’t the same as being in person. All of that being said, during the pandemic when I was trying to stay home I realized how many hours I was saving by not having to hop in the car, head to sometimes multiple grocery stores, shop, and come back. Using online grocery delivery apps, I can have orders with 3 different stores, compare prices, throw stuff in my cart QUICK when I know what I want, and move on with my life. If one store doesn’t have something I wanted, I can add that item to my list at another store and it’s not the same time suck as it would have been if I were the one physically shopping. I also know EXACTLY what I’m spending before I check out which allows me to edit down my cart if I feel like. It’s definitely harder to edit down your items in the grocery store checkout line if you find you’ve spent more than you intended.
When you order from these services, many times the original receipt with the in-store pricing is in the bag they deliver. You can probably guess that I’ve done the math several times to see just how much more I got charged on the app versus had I just gone into the store myself. In doing this I’ve found that between service charges, driver tip, and increased pricing on groceries I might spend $25 more during an online shopping trip, but I’m not paying for gas and I’m getting extra time back in my day, every single week, to do what I want. And we eat just as well-it’s just different.
Keep this in mind when it comes to your spending habits because it’s a prime example of why going with the cheapest option might not always be the best option for you. For me, it’s totally worth it to pay $100 or more per month EXTRA plus the subscription fees to delegate my grocery shopping and buy hours of my time back.