When Is the Cost of Convenience Worth It? We Do the Math
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4. Getting Anything Delivered

Groceries, dry-cleaning, flowers, dinner—there’s a door-to-door service option for pretty much everything. But it comes at a cost, whether it’s an extra tip, inflated prices or an added fee.

So consider this: Is consistently skipping the short commute to a restaurant for takeout or a trip to the grocery store really enhancing your life?

“Ask yourself whether you’re defaulting to that option too readily,” Game says. She suggests printing out your next month’s credit card and bank statements, and categorizing every expense (food, entertainment, travel) so you can see how much you’re spending and whether it’s worth it.

5. Buying Extras on the Plane

Remember the good old days, when food and accessories—blankets, headphones, movies—came gratis with your plane ticket? “Now, more airlines are charging a la carte,” Woroch says. “By breaking down the total price into smaller, individual costs, they are able to offer consumers a rock-bottom ticket.” The catch? They’re counting on cashing in on all those overpriced extras (like $3 coke cans) passengers buy.

The good news is that a little old-fashioned preparation—like making a sandwich at home and downloading a few shows onto your tablet—can save you big time. Too rushed to plan ahead? “Then be sure to take those fees into account when booking,” Woroch says. “JetBlue might initially come up as more expensive than flights on Spirit and Frontier, but you get free TV and snacks.”

6. Cutting Corners at the Grocery Store

Maybe you buy pineapple chunks and carrot sticks to save the trouble of chopping them at home. Or you hit up the corner store instead of driving all the way to a supermarket. Or you always reach for name-brand goods—conveniently positioned at eye-level—compared to store-brand alternatives.

Here’s a reality check: “You’ll end up paying an average of four times more for pre-cut fruit and veggies than if you’d bought whole produce,” Woroch says. “[Instead], purchase fruit once a week, then slice it up all at once and pack it into individual containers in fridge.”

It’s also worth keeping an open mind about generic goods. “Often, the same manufacturer that makes the name brand will also make the store brand, so they’re virtually identical,” Woroch says. “Break down the price per unit using your phone calculator, and you’ll find that you save an average of 30 percent.”

7. Relying on Uber and Cabs

It’s no wonder rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are wildly successful. Who wouldn’t prefer to cruise around in the back seat of a Prius, instead of being crammed into a subway car?

“But the danger with many of these apps is that the account is automatically linked to your credit or debit card, so you don’t viscerally feel the impact on your budget,” Game says. “You can drain your bank account without even noticing it.” Case in point: Game recently asked a client to outline her spending for the past year, and to her shock, the client realized she’d spent well over $4,000 on Uber.

Set boundaries to combat mindless ridesharing, and avoid surge pricing periods (which can more than double fares). If you cap yourself at $100 a month and your average ride is $15, that means you can Uber no more than once or twice a week. Or you can stretch your dollars, and enjoy more rides, with the carpooling option, a cheaper alternative that pairs you with riders headed in the same direction.

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