Frugal Friday

Healthy Family Cookin’: Frugal Friday: The Cost of Convenience

How much do you pay for convenience? Last week I really enjoyed reading this post by Katherine at Proverbs and Pacifiers on this very subject. In the post she talks about how we often choose convenience without thinking about the consequences. We go buy bread from the store when we can make it at home. We run to the bank for a loan instead of taking the time to save the money for ourselves. She pointed out that not all conveniences are bad. But we often take the easy road of convenience without really thinking about the cost. And sometimes those costs include our health, our happiness, and even our families.

So today I want to pose this question to you:

What conveniences are you willing to pay for and what really is the cost? 

I’ll give you just a few examples and then I’d love it if you would share your own.

Example 1: What’s the cost of convenience for buying prepackaged quick foods or fast food over making food from scratch?
These “convenience” foods are often loaded with junk that our bodies don’t need, cost a lot more money, and really don’t save a whole lot of time. Point #1, I can make a whole-grain pizza from scratch in less time than it takes to call and order a pizza and go pick it up. So why does it still seem more “convenient” to just go pick it up? Point #2, My uncle Brad shared an interesting post on his blog where he actually did a comparison with making Hamburger helper from the box and from scratch. He found that the stuff in the box actually took longer to make, cost about twice as much, and of course lacked nutrition (not to mention flavor).

So why do people buy those kinds of foods? Because it’s convenient. What’s the cost? More money, our long-term health, and I’d even go so far as to say our happiness. (Pardon me, but…Blech!)

Example 2: What’s the cost of convenience for paying with a credit card or loan over working to save for it?
It is a lot more convenient to buy now and pay later, isn’t it? But there is a cost. For one thing, you have to pay interest. And that interest is always there, accruing night and day. And then there is the stress. Too much debt starts to affect your peace of mind and I’ve known those who have had their health decline over it. It also weighs heavily on marriages and families, even breaking some apart. Maybe you read my post last week where I talked about financial self-discipline. Financial self-discipline is truly the harder road, but I believe that in the end it’s much less costly than the alternative.

Example 3: What’s the cost of convenience for placing our children in front of electronic babysitters instead of actually spending our time with them? 

We took our son out to a restaurant the other day to celebrate how well he did in the State Chess Tournament. It’s a rare thing for us and a real treat for the kids when we do. I walked by a couple that were sitting at dinner and had their tiny son (probably 2) hooked up with headphones to their ipad watching a movie while he was eating dinner. Now let me just tell ya. I know what it’s like to have an active 2 or 3 year-old boy, especially in a restaurant. I could tell you stories about some of the adventures we’ve had, but I’ll spare you today. But how else are children going to learn to behave in a restaurant or other public place if they’re not given the chance to do so? Plugging children in to electronic devices is the easy way out and I think it comes with a cost. The cost is their creativity, their health, their independent minds, their drive for life, their ability to develop personal relationships, learning to control their behavior, etc., etc., etc.

What other conveniences do we choose at a heavy cost?

  • Being lazy on the couch instead of working our bodies and minds?
  • Buying something new instead of fixing the old or making do with what we have?
  • Letting electronic communication take the place of person to person interactions?

Nowadays we’re infiltrated with options for convenience at every level. But those options do not come without a cost. In weighing these costs we have to remember that creating a healthy family takes work and it takes effort. Do we over-use convenience, thinking that we can take a shortcut and create a healthy family without the work and without the effort?

Now it’s your turn to share. What do you think? What conveniences do are worth it and which are just to costly? Happy Frugal Friday everyone! Hope you have a great weekend.

This week I’ll be linking to some of these link parties.

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