Just for fun, I was recently reviewing bank accounts to analyze my spending habits. So like a kid with Monopoly money, I used Mint.com to color-code my expenses by category, create a fancy chart of my monthly withdrawal patterns, and eventually design a “budget.” In the end I had an infographic-like representation of my indulgences, and it was clear where my weakness lays – convenience charges.
Now these aren’t the pay-bill-last-minute-with-credit-card or speak-to-a-live-representative “convenience” charges, these are the avoid-doing-something-I’m-perfectly-capable-of-doing-myself convenience charges. I pay for the convenience of not cooking my own food, or for the convenience of not cleaning my own home, or for the convenience of not scrubbing my own pores. I pay extra to have my car parked for me, I pay to have little kids make my lemonade, I even pay a premium for my vegetables to be pre-seasoned and pre-sliced, presumably by Trader Joe himself.
While I probably sit slightly on the reasonable side of the pay-for-comfort spectrum, I have a friend who takes her convenience very seriously. She eats out for every meal and has been known to fork over extortionate change fees to get on an earlier flight to avoid sitting at the airport. She has even paid the tab on an eight-person meal because she didn’t want to wait for everyone to do the math. But her views on what’s “worth it” have taught me something valuable – it’s totally worth it.
Convenience charges are really just a reflection of opportunity costs – and they are different for everyone. I prefer to cook than eat out, refuse to pay three dollars for bottled water, and smuggle candy into movies, but I do pay to have someone clean my apartment. Sure I can clean my own house, but it’s worth it to me to pay someone else who will do it in four hours to save me the eight hours it would take to do the same job. My eight hours of sanity are worth it. We all have to decide how valuable our time and happiness is.
So whether it’s the convenience of first class or a monthly facial or hiring a caterer or just having your M&Ms prepackaged in individual serving sizes, we all have comforts that are absolutely worth a premium. What costs are completely worth it to you?