We’re Addicted to Convenience

I’m not proud of some of the items in this post. It’s not very frugal and slightly counter-productive but if I can’t be honest about it, how can I make progress?

1180slIt’s an Easy Trap

I’ve had this theory for the past couple of years that occasionally comes up in conversation with my wife or friends.  This theory is probably not an original idea that I had, but I can’t for the life of me remember a source to credit.

This is the idea that there are times when we chose to abstain from responsibility and have someone else do things for us whether it’s necessary or not.  We do it purely out of want.  I like to call it convenience addiction.

What Exactly is the Trap?

The trap is a little different for everyone, however I believe that it’s 100 percent mental. We convince ourselves that we should spend money to have someone else provide a good or service that we are entirely capable of providing for ourselves.

For us, the most common traps are food related. We dine out too often. We order pizza.

Sometimes it’s not food related.  I’m perfectly able-bodied and can take care of the lawn and yard work. That didn’t stop me from hiring a lawn crew to maintain the front yard.

Housekeeping is the other big one for us. It really doesn’t take a huge amount of time and effort to keep things clean. Yet here we are with a bi-monthly housekeeper to come in and do the deep cleaning.

How Do We Fall Into It?

Most of the time we let ourselves believe that the day has just been too much. We’re too tired to cook or clean. We’re stressed and just need to get out of the house for a change of scenery. We got caught up in weekend activities and didn’t get the meal planning and grocery shopping done. You get the picture.

Sometimes we, as partners, try to smooth things over for the other having a rough patch or down day.  Oh, I’ll just order a pizza since she’s not feeling well and I’ve had to work all day (I admit, I’m borderline Enabler in this regard).

These are just a few of the ways that we justify falling into the trap. I think on some level that our society conditions us to allow these rationales. What’s worse is knowing full well that we’re getting trapped and still allowing it to happen.

Why do we do it? I think the biggest reason is because it’s comforting. Having someone take care of us feels good. We do live in a very compressed stressed out society. Having one less chore feels like a win. Here’s the kicker, and the dangerous bit, for us… We can technically afford it.

Dodging the Pit

Here’s the tricky part.  How the hell do we keep this from happening?  Honestly, I’m not so sure I’ve got it figured out but I’ve got a few ideas.

  1.  Stop making excuses – Plain and simple.  We just need to quit excusing ourselves and allowing for poor behavior.  This part will take work since it involves breaking bad habits.
  2.  Establish and stick to a routine – We need to establish exactly when we’re going to do things like grocery planning and shopping and always do it then (with the exception of holidays and vacations, of course)
  3.  Have a fall-back plan for the routine – If for some reason the primary person responsible for a task can’t accomplish it, then we need a backup already planned out.  Coming up with an alternative on the fly allows for wiggle room and slippage.
  4.  Hold each other accountable – This is an area where I think we have some imbalance.  I tend to be more on the lenient/accommodating side (that’s a whole other story) and I think that puts me in a position where I take on more responsibility than I can handle which leads to more stress which leads to more convenience acceptance.

Really and truly, I know this isn’t something that gets fixed overnight.  It will take effort and I’m sure it will be one of those two steps forward one step back deals.  Regardless, right now it’s costing us money and potentially delaying our escape from the corporate rat-race.  This past week has seriously highlighted that fact and I almost dread doing the month-end analysis.  I think we can do better.

What do you guys think?  Who else has been trapped by convenience addiction?



6 thoughts on “We’re Addicted to Convenience”

  1. I think you’re being too hard on yourself. Sure, convenience is a sort of drug, a balm for the masses, and we’d all like to think we can rise up above it. But on the other hand, you’re also working jobs that are far more time-consuming and stressful than nature ever intended. So if you need an occasional pizza to ease some of that stress, I think you should allow yourself that luxury without guilt. Of course, if it’s an all-the-time thing, that’s different, and then it might be worth making an effort to prep a bunch of meals and freeze them, so you can just pop something in the oven. But even having a fridge full of foods ready to prepare just doesn’t give me the motivation to cook on those nights following the worst work days. We’ll stop the convenience stuff when we’re retired, but for now, we give ourselves a little leeway, guilt-free, and I hope you can do the same. 🙂

  2. You’re right, of course. I am being a bit hard on myself, but giving voice to the frustration is a bit cathartic. Things are hectic right now. Life is happening. Sometimes I think that keeping up with a bunch of PF blogs can skew ones perception too. Thanks for the grounding feedback. You guys are always so reasonable in your approach. So, today I’m reminding myself: cash flow is positive, net worth is increasing, and the plan is working.

  3. I know in our case, it took a few years to figure out this balance, and we’d keep swinging back and forth to more frugal, then more about enjoying today, and we’ve only just found our moderation in the center. So give it time. 🙂

  4. I can see that. We’re definitely still on the more frugal side of the pendulum compared to where we were a few years ago. I’m certain we won’t swing THAT far back in the other direction. Also, keeping time frame in mind means this is just a blip on the radar.

  5. Happy to have found your blog through a comment you made today on the ONL site!

    Enjoyed reading this post because we (Mr and Mrs PIE) have been there also with our “spendy ways”. Being patient with it, a little change here and there and not being too hard on yourselves is really, really important.

    Habits can change. You will be amazed with the satisfaction you get from that change. It is very liberating. Reading a few of your other posts tells me that you are making mighty fine progress. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

  6. Thanks for stopping by! Glad you found me.

    We’re a work in progress with the spendiness. Definitely have some good weeks and some bad but like you say, we’re slowly making a change here and a change there. We’re already in a lot better position than we were two years ago. Definitely feeling good about the big picture progress!

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