How much convenience should you buy? This question is the closest to whether money could buy happiness. Of course, money can’t buy your what you define as a happy state of mind, but it could buy free time, better access to services and higher quality of lifestyle. Not to argue that all of these could this could make you happy, but it could improve your daily life.
Convenience hardly comes with its own ceiling, however. If you hire a helper to take care of your house or your children, should you also get a cook? If you do, how about hiring a driver? And the list goes on. So it is your duty to fix define how much convenience you can afford and prioritise what can be covered with this budget.
While you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your choices, your spending makes sense. For example, don’t spend on something that is just nice to have, while your back account is in the red. And it is a no-brainer to never buy any sort of these almost-luxury options on credit cards or other sorts of credit options. Here are a few points to keep in mind.
Define your conveniences
Different stages of life also bring different priorities. For example, parents of young children may appreciate all the help they could get with the house and the kids. Meanwhile, a single person may forego all the help and opt to spend disposable income on a higher rent that make it possible to walk or bike to work. The point is: convenience is strongly based on individual preferences, so don’t be judgemental of others or too harsh on yourself.
You also will need to define big and small conveniences. For example, do you rather have many daily conveniences that make your life easier or a larger house that provide more privacy and space for everyone. There is no right or wrong answer to this choice, but it should be something that you discuss with other people whose lives would be impact by your decision.
Luxury or not?
Buying services or products that make your life easier is a generally a luxury rather than a necessity. But the line could get blurred sometimes when things are related to your home, children and job. For example, placing your children in some sort of day care is necessity so you could work. Hiring a driver to take them to day care, so you can have some personal time in the morning is a matter of convenience, if you’d be able to take them yourself.
So coming up with a budget is tricky, because you would choose to spend this money on a something that appears to fall beyond the investment and savings categories. In the bigger scheme of things, you’re investing in yourself and your family. It is an investment that is similar to going to the gym or on a trip. It improves your life quality and eventually your state of mind.
As mentioned, different stages of life have different requirements. So be flexible and willing to give up some of the luxuries that you don’t need anymore. For example, if your children are no longer babies or toddlers, you may have some extra time to give up the need for full-time help. If your job now allows you to work for part of the time from home, you may be able to reduce the number of cars your family owns and save on gas and money.
Being flexible in giving up past conveniences will help you adopt new ones. If there is no pressing need for anything else, you can add to your savings or investments. Regular reviews of where your money is spent is the only way to make the most efficient decisions.
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.
Matters of convenience
Improve your life quality, if you can afford it
Spend money on your own priorities
Use disposable income rather than savings or credit
Be flexible with changes over time