I don’t mean to complain, but sometimes it’s hard being a working parent. Even though there are two of us sharing the load, between our differing job schedules, drop-offs at the sitter, shopping so we don’t have to live on ramen, household chores and everything else, sometimes (a lot of times) I get tired. I’ll bet you do, too.

And there are times when I am tired that I find myself taking the easy way out. Sure, I could save money by fixing my lunch at home and bringing it with me instead of eating out, or making my own coffee (even using a K-cup) instead of stopping at Starbucks. But those things take effort, and sometimes I’m not up to it. The alternative is so … convenient. And I like convenience!

Apparently, I’m not alone. According to a recent report cited by The Street.com, U.S. adults – especially younger ones like me – are quite willing to spend more for convenience, even if it increases our day-to-day cost of living. And that’s in spite of the fact that 60 percent of us haven’t set anything aside as a cushion in case times get hard.

The numbers are scary: adults between the ages of 20 and 30 spend 60 percent of our food budget on eating out, and people in general eat dinner out an average of 14 times a month! And don’t even get me started about coffee: according to a survey by Accounting Principals, Americans who regularly buy coffee out spend an average of $1,092 per year on it! (Remember Thalia, who I coached on My Comeback? She was spending more than $100 a month!)

It’s not just food and drink, either. When was the last time you used an ATM that wasn’t owned by Arizona Federal, and then paid a fee to the company that owned it? Did you know that in the Phoenix area, the average surcharge for those transactions is nearly $4? Did you also know that you can get cash with no fee at any Arizona Federal ATM, and at more than 30,000 ATMs nationwide through our association with the Co-op Network? Or you can get cash back with a purchase at most merchants for no fee and without a special trip? So, why do we pay ATM fees? Because it’s convenient.

If convenience is so costly, what are we supposed to do? Become like that family in the TV commercials and “settle” for inconvenience? Can I never stop for a cold-brewed coffee again? I don’t think we need to go that far. But the next time I’m tempted to order out instead of cooking in, I’m at least going to think about how much the added convenience is costing me. You should too. We might still pay it, but at least we’ll know. And knowledge is power, right?


Is convenience costing Phoenix consumers?