Here’s a familiar scenario: Your preferred ride-share has just dropped you off at home after a long day at work, and you’re ready for some coveted laziness in your coziest clothes. In the true spirit of inactivity, you order dinner with your thumbs and your smartphone. Before squeezing into bed you tuck a little more productivity into your day by arranging for a 24-pack of toilet paper to arrive at your door the next morning. As you close your eyes, a thought creeps into your mind: “What does all this convenience really cost me?”
In certain aspects of our lives, the world has become much easier to interact with. There are countless apps, products and services out there champing at the bit to make your day-to-day less stressful. Unfortunately, the phrase “time is money” rings loudly here: What you save in minutes will almost certainly cost you in dollars. Some things are worth it — there’s a reason bars have ATMs with those lovely fees— but how many quick fixes do we reach for without even thinking about them? If you were to take the less convenient route on the five items below you might save more than $2,000. Seriously, don’t you have something better you’d like to spend that money on?
Big trouble in little K-cup
Coffee pods make it easier than ever to brew a quick coffee at home. If you’re a Starbucks fan, a 48-pack of their True North Blend K-Cups will set you back $47.95, according to their website. That’s almost a dollar a cup, but definitely cheaper than a daily visit to your friendly barista. But consider that a 454-gram bag of the same blend will run you $17.95. It’ll brew the same number of cups, but at just 37 cents a cup. If you drink a cup of coffee a day, that adds up to more than $200 annually.
Trade coffee pods for fresh ground: $220 a year
The salad’s out of the bag
While the idea of pre-made salads may seem like an incentive for healthier eating, psychologists argue we’re more motivated to follow through on goals that we’ve put a little effort into. All this is to say, science suggests you may be more likely to eat a salad you’ve prepared from scratch. Psychologists refer to it as the Power of Personal Investment. At Loblaw’s, a 454-gram bag of Dole chopped romaine retails for $5.99 each, while non-bagged romaine retails for $1.99 a head. The chopping and washing is free. If you skipped the bagged salad once a week, you could save more than $200 annually.
Trade pre-made salad for fresh greens: $208 a year
Ride-shares are comfy, but if you’ve ever used one during a traffic jam, you may have wondered if taking the subway would have been faster. It would certainly be cheaper. If you’ve got the gusto to take public transport instead of a $15 Uber or taxi two times per week, the $3.25 you spend on a TTC fare (maybe public transit is even cheaper in your city) might save you time as well as money.
Trade two $15 taxis for public transit twice a week: $1,200 a year
When banks break the bank
Many personal finance experts prescribe an all-cash diet for everyday transactions. We’ve got to say there’s something to this. Few of us stop to add up the transaction fees and monthly charges banks apply, but they can easily add up to as much as $30 a month (!). And they’re rising all the time. You can avoid these fees by keeping a prescribed minimum balance in your chequing account, using a credit card (and paying off the balance every month), or just taking out the cash you need every Sunday. The bonus is that using cold hard cash increases the pain of paying. You’ll probably spend less while you’re at it.
Trade debit transactions for a cash budget: $360 a year
Fast and furious fashion
Clothing retailers that sell their pieces for rock-bottom cheap prices are very appealing: You can jump on a trend quickly and add a ton of variety to your wardrobe. But are you really getting a good deal? Consider that many so-called “fast fashion” pieces may wear out in a year or less, whereas a well-made garment can last upwards of five years, with care and upkeep. In many cases it can be worth it to invest more money in something that will hold up in the long run. It’s certainly worth a look at the back of a store known for its good quality, to browse the items on clearance. There may be hidden gems waiting to be unearthed!
Trade five $30 dollar garments for one $100 garment that lasts years: $30 a year