Convenience is becoming ever more important to our daily lives. People are seeking out easier and faster ways to do everything from getting meals to shopping for goods to purchasing cars. This race for convenience comes with costs, often ones many consumers are unaware of. However, over the years it has become increasingly clear what price we are paying for convenience.
Many companies are now using convenience as a marketing tool. Grocery stores like Kroger and Giant Eagle are offering to do your grocery shopping for you for a small fee. All you have to do is place your order online and pick up your order curbside. Both Amazon and Walmart deliver items ordered on their websites to your front door within two days of the order being placed.
The trend may have started with the fast food companies. In return for food that was convenient, tasty, and always available, American consumers sacrificed nutrition and control over the cooking process. While the trade-off may have seemed minimal decades ago, we now know that fast food high in fat, sugar, and salt is a main contributor to the obesity crisis the country is facing today.
The trend has also affected our finances. Not so long ago, people used cash for most of their financial transactions, heading to the bank to get more when they were running low. Now, most purchases are made using debit and credit cards, reducing our need to interact with bank tellers to obtain cash and enriching banks and credit card companies that charge fees for each use of one of their branded cards.
This trend’s cost to our economy has been dramatic. The number of people employed as bank tellers has plummeted while the amount of money paid to the banks for the convenience of not using cash has skyrocketed. The use of the payment cards has also enabled massive impulse buying, revolving debt traps, bankruptcies, and the selling of our private information.
Some people have determined that the convenience is not worth the cost and have stopped using credit and debit cards altogether. While this is a noble idea, it is more difficult to execute than you might think. Not using the cards means it is more difficult to purchase things online, make travel reservations, or pay recurring bills. The convenience of using payment cards has been woven so tightly into our everyday lives that it seems nearly impossible to operate without them.
In many cases, the cost of convenience is that we must pay more money to accomplish the same tasks. In some cases, the costs also include lost jobs, increased damage to our bodies and the environment, an increase in waste, and the depletion of resources. When making a choice of what services to use and products to buy, all these costs should be taken into consideration if we want to leave a better world to our children and grandchildren. Sometimes, a little inconvenience is necessary for long term health and happiness.