Paying for convenience

We all do it to some degree. And it is all relative depending on your circumstances. Maybe you are a crazy person who pays someone to drive you around and another to dress you in the mornings. Or maybe you are a crazy person who makes their own soap. It is all just a scale from your own view point. Doing so is crazy to one is, while doing without is crazy to another.

Lets step back a second and talk about driving. Chances are that if you are reading this blog, you own a car. I own one too. In fact we are a two car household. I even bought this car with a loan back in the day.

If you’ve ever read Mr Money Mustache’s clown car article, you’ll know that he thinks all those lines of people driving everywhere in their cars are insane. I tend to agree but only to a point. Yes I bike to work, and I ride for pleasure too. But I don’t ride to the shops, most of the time we’ll walk unless its a big shop in which case we drive – luckily those are restricted to around once a month for the big shops.

When we go for take-out, that is a no-brainer; we drive (almost) every time. We are willing to pay the cost of driving in exchange for hotter food, faster than we’d get via the delivery guy or by walking. Don’t even talk to me about biking. You go try bike home some take-out with poorly sealed containers and see what the wife says to afterwards!

Once it doesn’t become a habit, you understand the costs and can afford for it, paying for convenience is ok.

Let me state this straight off, it is not all about money. Every action has costs well beyond the financial, you just won’t see them all immediately.

So about that drive. Maybe you decide to drive to the shops because its raining and you really don’t want to deal with another set of wet rain gear again, or you’ve already done your 10k jog and a walk doesn’t seem that appealing, or maybe it is just a lazy day. Whatever. Once you know you are doing it and know the cost, it is fine.

About the cost, I really dislike how some people break every car journey down to the cost per mile. Sure there is a benefit in some ways, but it mostly misses the real cost and is only useful to justify other arguments. Have you ever heard of sunk costs?

Lets break it down.

Cost per year (including depreciation): A
Insurance and tax: B
Maintenance: C
Wear and tear: D
Petrol (Gas): E

If you want a high cost per mile, you add it all up and divide by the number of miles you do. This seems correct too but it isn’t. Unless you can completely get rid of your car, the cost per mile for something like a trip to the shops when you would normally walk is the wear and tear + gas.

The hidden costs

The dollar amount isn’t the only cost. Each journey does take you one step closer to forming a habit. A bad habit. One where you drive everywhere and don’t walk or bike. Your health suffers. Yes a single journey is probably immeasurable but the cost is still there. You don’t get your fresh air. Your vitamin sunshine.  You don’t move about and let your body know you are still alive.

It all adds up.

You can’t complete the important journey if you are dead.

But I don’t own a car?

Kudos to you. Sincerely I mean that. I hope in a few years to follow you. Come on self driving taxi’s.

But a car is just the example. Maybe you buy new tubes for your bike instead of repairing the old ones. Or you pay someone to cut your grass. Or perhaps you do it yourself with an electric mower instead of a simple push version. They are all forms of paying for convenience in one way or another. And that is a-okay.

It extends to time too.

Think about your morning coffee. Some of the guys I know will spend 10-15 minutes grinding the beans and brewing up their cup, some of the others get the quickest thing possible or simply buy it from the local Starbucks. If it is worth if to you to spend the time, all power to you and don’t feel the least bit guilty about doing so.

It is all a cost balancing exercise. You determine your goals and what you are willing to pay along the way. Just remember that life is more than just a financial spreadsheet.

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