On our Living Below Your Means discussion board a while back, someone shared a link to an article on another website about the cost of convenience, and as you might suspect from the title ("Time Saved? Money Wasted!"), it had a strong point of view.

As I read it, I found that I agreed with much of it, but not entirely. The author, Cathryn Sykes, is correct that many of us needlessly spend too much money on various items, often because of their convenience. Here's one of her illustrations:

A friend of mine, for example, bought pre-marinated, individually vacuum-packed chicken breasts for $1.67 per four-ounce portion. It never occurred to her this is $6.68 a pound! Boneless chicken breasts were selling for $3.29 a pound. If it takes 5 cents' worth of seasoning and one minute to season a pound's worth (do it in the morning and leave it in the fridge to marinate), you pay $3.34 per minute for this "convenience" or $200 per hour!

Her logic is sound, but as the denizens of our Living Below Your Means board pointed out, she may not be comparing the right alternatives. Here's MaestroCindi: "They're comparing convenience foods (like frozen foods) to homemade food, but I think the average person usually chooses between a frozen dinner or buying fast food/going out to eat -- in which case the frozen food is cheaper." I agree. She added: "If you eat even two four-ounce portions of the chicken breasts, that will cost you $3.34, which is much less than you'd spend at a restaurant. And the prepackaged servings might keep you from eating too much, given the overly generous portions of many restaurant meals."

It's important to consider all your options and what they'll cost you in money and time. Buying a take-out dinner may not be cheap, but it may be cheaper than the next most likely alternative for you. If you're just not going to be preparing a dinner from scratch, why compare its cost to anything?

It's also good to remember that not everyone lives in similar situations. Buying produce in bulk doesn't make sense for some people -- especially those who live alone. NaggingFool also pointed out that just about all of us inevitably opt for some conveniences. Most of us don't make our own pickles or jam, for example, or change our own oil.

Overall, though, denizens of our board had a lot of fun with the article.

Ramsfanray mused, "I wonder how much time she spent figuring out all the math required for this article by hand instead of using a calculator."

Snychronicity announced, "I've hired someone to bring my mail from the mailbox to me at the door. I asked the guy I hired why he seemed so eager to do this. He replied: "I'm doing this for a lot of people. I'm probably doing this 100 hours a week, but I'm earning almost $150,000!"

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