convenience

Have you ever wondered why you can buy a 12 pack of soda for $5, or one single fast food soda for $2? It’s the convenience tax baby, and it’s one of the easiest things to cut out of your life.

What is the convenience tax?  It’s a term that I use to refer to the extra money that we pay to get things RIGHT NOW!

We have been bombarded with the convenience tax since coming back to America. And I’m tired of it!

For example, we had to get a money order for the deposit on our new apartment. Chase, the bank I was withdrawing the money from, was going to charge me $5 for a money order.  We opted to go across the parking lot to the Smiths grocery store to pay $0.69 instead. Just by taking the slightly less convenient route, we were able to save over $4!

Yeah, yeah, $4 isn’t a ton of money. And some people will tell you not to sweat the small stuff. I agree, if you have other great money habits. But I think saving 1 or 2 dollars here or there is an easy way to start getting on the right track.

Getting creative is the first way to do that, especially when trying to avoid the convenience tax.

Like the aforementioned soda. My husband and I rarely buy drinks from restaurants or fast food chains. My husband literally walks around with Dr. Peppers in his back pockets. Why pay $4 for two sodas, when we have $0.40 sodas sitting at home?

Restaurants and fast food are the prime examples of places where you will pay the convenience tax. Why do we pay $8 for a sandwich that we can make at home for $0.50? Because we “don’t have the time”, or because we “don’t want to exert the energy”.   But, remember, you’re going to pay dearly for your laziness!

And, come on, movie theaters?!  I’m amazed that they convince us to pay $12 for a movie we can wait to watch on Netflix or purchase from the $10 bin at Walmart in 2 years.  Oh, and to go with your outrageously priced film, you definitely need a $5 soda, $2 box of candy, and $10 tub of popcorn.  It is ludicrous that we are willing to pay these prices.  And yet, many of us do!

Listen, I’m not saying that there isn’t value in restaurants, movie theaters, or buying a Big Gulp for $0.99. I’m just saying that you can make the decision of whether it’s worth it to YOU to pay a premium for your food, drinks, and entertainment.

Still not convinced?  Here’s an example of avoiding the convenience tax that ended up saving us beaucoup bucks:

We were looking for phone plans at Verizon.  When the lady told us the total, there was an extra $35 tacked on to the bill! We asked her why on earth the bill was so high and she informed us that they charge a $35 activation fee.

My husband knew that we could have the Target girl set it up for us for free. So we drove 2 miles to Target and the girl helped us activate the phone, sans the $35 activation fee.

We were lucky that my husband knew how phones at Target worked, but I believe we would have saved that money anyway. How? He’s not afraid to question things. Asking questions is another way to avoid the convenience tax.

Where I would have just fumed internally and paid the extra money, my husband would have asked if there was any way around the activation fee. Maybe the Verizon lady would have told us about Target, and maybe she wouldn’t have. But even if she didn’t, we still wouldn’t have been any worse off than we were before he asked. Whereas if we didn’t ask, we would have just paid $35 unnecessarily.

So how do we beat the system? We question the system. Is there another cheaper, possibly slightly less convenient way to get this?

If you could save dozens just by driving a little out of your way, or thinking and packing ahead, or asking a question that may make you feel a little uncomfortable, would you do it?

What do you think? Are you as irked by the convenience tax as I am?

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