Next up in our back to basics series, I am talking about when you should and when you shouldn’t pay for convenience. As a busy mom of 4, I know that my time is valuable. Sometimes paying a little extra for a convenience item or service is worth it, and sometimes it isn’t. All these can be very personal, and what works for me may not work for you, and that’s ok. The point is to really give it some thought, and figure out when to pay a little more, and where you could save some money by doing it yourself.
Grocery Delivery and Pickup Services – One of the latest convenience trends is grocery delivery or pickup services. I have tried out both options, and there are pros and cons to each, as well as different fees. Fees and extra charges vary between different stores and companies, and there are of course coupon codes and offers out there too. I love the Walmart pickup service in my area, since there is no charge, however I have to plan a head and cannot order groceries the same day. Superstore offers same day pickup, but their prices tend to be a little higher on items, and there is a fee as well. And then there are companies like Instacart that will shop for you at your store and deliver the groceries right to your house. I used this service when everyone in my house had a stomach bug, and I couldn’t leave to pick up supplies we needed. I haven’t used this again, as they have high service fees and delivery fees and their prices on each item cannot be price matched and are higher than the stores regular price (watch out for this!). If you are really strapped for time, these options can be great, but watch out for extra fees and higher prices on items, this can add a significant amount to your bill. They can be great if you are one to not stick to a list; you aren’t tempted to add extra treats and items to you cart as your wander the store! And if you have sick or grumpy kids, not having to take them into a store is a great option. But sometimes our budgets are super tight, and we simply cannot afford any extra costs, and so we must do our shopping ourselves.
Pre-cut Veggies – This can make life so much easier! If you are trying to eat clean and healthy, but are short on time, pre-cut veggies are a great option. Tossing a salad together or chopped up veggies for a stir fry or even just a snack is a great way to save time, and its better than hitting the drive thru if you are running late! I love a good salad kit, and my husband sometimes buys veggie trays when no veggies are on sale (veggie tray prices are usually the same every week, so when the peppers and cauliflower are full price, it can be cheaper to buy the pre-cut stuff!) However, if the veggies are on sale, and you don’t mind washing and chopping them, save some money and spend 30 minutes doing a little meal/snack prep for the week! Also watch for any added ingredients and best before dates. If the veggies were chopped up a while ago, or treated with something to stay fresh, you might want to skip them.
Professional services – Don’t get me wrong, I love a good DIY, but I also know my limitations. My husband and I are both pretty handy and smart; we can figure out how to do just about anything around the house. But we also have 4 little kids and limited time. When we first bought our house we did all the improvements ourselves, but now, we are much more likely to hire someone for something big. Regular maintenance of our home (like lawn care, snow removal and cleaning) we do all ourselves. Other services like haircuts, I have managed to teach myself (thanks YouTube!), and I cut all 6 heads of hair in this house, and I’m proud to say we look pretty good! Maybe numbers aren’t your thing and you have a complicated income and financial life, so paying for an accountant to do your taxes is a better way to go, but if things are simple and straight forward, download a government recommended free program and do your own taxes to save some money every year (not sure how things are done in other countries, so this is more for any Canadian readers). We also don’t know very much about cars, so any repairs, we seek professional help from our trusty mechanic! Go with your strengths and know your limitations as an individual. Sometimes paying a pro is the better way to go to make sure the task is done properly.
What other convenience items or services do you pay for? As our lives get busier and busier, more and more things are being done for us, at a high cost, and not all of us can afford it! Debts are getting larger, and so many people see this as ok. Take a step back and figure out what works for you and your finances.