The True Cost of Convenience

“I should eat healthier… is that salad place in our delivery range yet?” “Here, use my phone and just buy it on my account.” If any of these quotes sound familiar – whether you’ve heard them, or said them yourself – you’re not alone. Thanks to technology, we have convenience at our fingertips. And we love it! Food delivery apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo are amongst some of the most downloaded on both the App Store and in Google Play. Aussies take millions of Uber trips per month.i


For some of us, it’s still a bit of a novelty – tapping the screen a few times and having a driver, meal or groceries show up at the door in minutes. Or even a new outfit the same day. For many others, it’s become a part of our everyday lives. We can’t imagine fitting everything in to our busy schedules without the help of these services. And it’s true – many of these convenience services do save us a lot of time and stress. But it all comes at a cost. A cost that’s all too easy to ignore when you’re not handing over cash or entering your card details.

Transport on demand

Apps such as Uber, Taxify, 13CABS and Sheba make it easier than ever to book private transport on demand. If you use any of these services, have a think about the last few times you ordered a ride. Could you have caught public transport instead (with a bit more planning)? Would you have been able to carpool with someone else? Could you have walked or ridden the same distance? Private transport on demand is great for emergencies. But chances are, you could save a few dollars here and there by planning ahead. For example, Uber minimum fares are around $7 to $10, depending on your city. But a single trip on public transport is only $3 to $4.

Food at your fingertips

Feeling too tired to dress up and go out for dinner is one thing but being too lazy to pick up takeaway or order delivery over the phone is something else. Although it’s just so easy to open an app, search for what you’re craving, or browse whatever will be delivered fastest, you pay to get that time back, and not just through the cost of the meal. The standard delivery fee is about $5. If you’re ordering a meal for one, that could be a pretty hefty mark-up.

Avoid that ‘too tired/late/flustered to cook’ conundrum next time by planning ahead. Batch cook some meals you can chuck in the freezer. Keep a stash of simple lunch ingredients at work.

Automatic renewals

How many services do you pay for on a rolling direct debit basis? If you haven’t thought about it lately, well, that’s kind of the point. Subscription services are designed to be so easy, you forget you’ve got them. We’re talking things like pay TV, music streaming, the gym, or wine club deliveries. The same goes for having payment details saved with a shopping website, or on a particular device.

There’s a science behind this; the fewer clicks you have to make to purchase something, the more likely you are to actually go through with it. That’s because each click is a decision point. So retailers use technology to reduce the number of clicks.

If you were one of the Aussies who contributed to online shopping growing by 11.5% last yearii, it might be worth reviewing where your money is being direct debited to. Your online banking platform may help you do this by categorising your spending. Or you could try a budget tracker like Pocketbook.iii

Convenience services mean we’ve got more time for the important things in life. And while that’s a good thing, it’s important not to let your love of apps and subscriptions derail your budget…




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