In our ever-expanding share economy, when you can get fast food delivered to your doorstep or request an Uber or Lyft ride with a rideshare app in a matter of minutes, it’s far too easy to opt for the easier—and often costlier—option. If you live in a big city such as New York or Los Angeles, an average ride costs $10 to $15. It may not seem like much, but can add up quickly if you’re painting the town red every weekend.
And the same goes for ordering takeout through a food delivery service such as Postmates or DoorDash versus cooking a meal at home. Millennials spend on average $173 a month eating out—which can put a dent in your pocketbook, especially if you’re operating on a tight budget.
When it comes to caving in to doing whatever’s easier, there are other costs besides the money. For instance, you might find yourself being lazier, less resourceful, or spending on things that don’t line up with what’s important for your values or goals. For instance, if you cave in to having fast food delivered, you may find your aspirations to lose weight to fall by the wayside. Or the money you could’ve saved taking public transit or biking to and from work could have gone toward something that you really want.
The conveniences offered by our sharing economy today are incredible and cool—apps like TaskRabbit, Uber, Venmo and others have a place in making our lives easier. But are they also making us live in the moment, rather than planning ahead? Too much of a good thing is, well, usually too much. So here are some ways you can track your spending on convenience, to figure out if it’s really worth it:
Go on a financial cleanse
You can be hardcore and go on a financial cleanse, where you don’t buy anything for a period of time. Another thing you can try is to go on a 30-day fast on a specific vice, such as buying clothes or requesting a rideshare to get home from work. For example, for every drink or rideshare ride you forgo, put the money directly into a savings goal. If you’re a credit union member, you might be able to set up a savings goal through Sprig, which is available at participating credit unions.
Track your spending
Tracking your spending will help you see exactly where your money is going, and to pinpoint any money pits. You can use Sprig to monitor your spending, or if you want to get more specific, Pistats can help you track your Uber and Lyft rides to figure out how much you’re dumping such on using rideshares to get around.
Kelly Butler, a copywriter based in Chicago, started Do 30 Days to keep track of her 30-day challenges and to help her stay accountable. Her most recent challenge involved keeping track of how much she spent on drinking. “I always told my doctor, when asked how much I drink, hat it’s around five to seven drinks per week,” says Butler. “Turns it out it was more like 27. I spend close to $1,000 on booze a month. That’s insane. And I had no clue.”
To prevent you from overspending, you can also set alerts on your card using card control apps like CardNav, available to participating credit union members. With CardNav and other similar apps, you can turn your card on and off if necessary, and set spending limits or select merchant categories where the card can be used.
We oftentimes opt for the more convenient factor out of poor planning. For instance, think about how much we spend on ATM fees when we resort to going to the nearest ATM. Those pesky ATM fees and surcharges have a way of sneaking up on you and add up. While this is easier said than done, especially if you’re constantly on the go, taking some time to plan ahead will save you tons in the long run. For instance, if you’re a credit union member, you can figure out where the locations with no ATM fees are in order to take out cash at an in-network ATM beforehand.
The cost of convenience goes beyond dollars and cents. It can derail you from your goals and ultimately from living a life that’s in accordance with your values. With a little bit of effort and planning, you’ll be able to avoid the perils of going overboard.