Convenience services have become the next big thing. If you are wondering what I am referring to, think of the new hype over Blue Apron and other grocery delivery and online ordering services. And how many people do you know that hire a weekly housecleaner or maid service?
Most people justify these expenses as “saving time” so that they can make more money. However, are these actually worth it?
Grocery and Meal Services
First, let’s talk about grocery services and delivery options. Blue Apron has become increasingly popular with individuals who enjoy convenience and have busy schedules. Basically, a package gets delivered to your doorstep with all the ingredients to make a few meals. You still have to prep the ingredients and cook the meal, but at least everything is packaged together and otherwise ready to go.
Right now, Blue Apron has a two-person plan that costs just under $60 per week. The groceries cover three meals for the couple, so you can assume that they would cover at least 12 meals per month for a total of about $240.
Another trendy convenience for many is hiring maids or housecleaners. Some maids come monthly, some bi-weekly, and others clean weekly. The idea is that this can keep your stress level down if you work long hours. After all, you’ll have much less time to clean if you spend many late nights at the office. And, for some, hiring a maid service may give them more time to work (especially for the self-employed), so it seems like a good investment.
But it’s not cheap and will definitely add a line item to your budget. At a minimum, you’ll probably find prices around $25 per hour. If you plan to have regular visits from the housekeeper, this will add up quickly.
How to Tell What’s Worth It
For convenience services such as these, the pros and cons must be weighed for each specific person. It is important to take into consideration your budget, your time constrictions, and your personal preferences.
You should do a direct comparison between using the convenience service and not using the convenience service. Ask yourself basic questions like: How much money will it cost to hire the maid versus buying cleaning materials yourself? How much more money will I make if I work instead of clean my home each week? But don’t stop there, consider the aspect of time as well. How much time will it take you to clean your home yourself or to buy extra groceries each week if you don’t use Blue Apron? What would you be doing with that time instead—making money, relaxing with family, or just sitting around the house watching television?
How you answer these questions will point you in the right direction.
For someone who has ample amounts of money, but very little time, hiring a maid may be a great option. This will not break the bank, and will free up time outside of work to finish up uncompleted projects, carry out hobbies, and focus on families and friends.
For an individual who despises the grocery store and shopping, Blue Apron may be a great middle ground to keep you cooking. It’s not cheap, and you could cook meals for much less money, but it still beats many restaurants’ pricing that you may otherwise be tempted to splurge on during the week. Furthermore, the Blue Apron meals will be significantly healthier than grabbing fast food on a whim after work.
However, if you enjoy shopping for your meals each week, Blue Apron would not be the way to go. Also, since Blue Apron doesn’t give you enough meals to last the whole week, you’ll still be shopping and prepping meals for four other days per week. So how much time will it really save you if you still have to go grocery shopping?
Always Prioritize Your Bills
Most importantly, the convenience services are never worth it if you cannot afford them. This means that your first priorities should be paying your bills, paying off debt, and meeting your savings goals. If there is leftover money once these important aspects are fulfilled, then you could consider your convenience. If you are in debt or not saving for retirement, give yourself a wakeup call. Convenience now will lead to stress later.
If you’re doing well financially, weigh your options. The convenience may be worth it to you in the end, but in many cases it isn’t.