Being a temp worker isn’t easy. Running from job to job — walking dogs, delivering food, or Ubering people around — is exhausting, and it takes a chunk out of your free time. Did you also know it’s taking a toll on your wallet? Going from one job to another, it might be easier to pick up a meal than it is to cook, or you might drop off your laundry rather than do it yourself.
It’s called convenience spending, and it’s a danger to your bank account — the one you’re trying to fatten up with extra jobs.
The irony is that many temp workers are part of an economy that caters to convenience — they’re delivering groceries and take out, walking dogs, watching kids and mowing lawns. But all that convenience comes with a cost, and people who want to make and save money may find themselves spending it, even on the services they provide.
So what to do about it? Take a look at the way you spend money on convenience and how you can keep these expenses from eating away at savings.
Ordering takeout, going out to eat, and having meals delivered is a huge convenience spend for everyone, not just temp workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent Consumer Expenditure Report, American households spent an average of $3,365 on food not cooked at home in 2017, an increase of almost 7 percent over the amount spent on restaurants and takeout in 2016.
A ton of take-out but it’s understandable, especially for busy people juggling jobs. Tired after a long day of running around (and possibly delivering other people’s food), the last thing you want is to go home and cook. Or maybe you’re on the road and not going home to eat at all — instead you’re grabbing food on the run.
How can you avoid this? If you want to cut back on the amount spent on takeout and delivery, you need to plan ahead. If your schedule is crazy most days, find a day you don’t run around, and make your food for the next several days ahead of time. Freeze it, so you can grab your meals for the day and bring them with you, or heat them up when you come home. If you really like eating out, maybe cut back a little. Plan to stop for your favorite takeout on certain days and bring your meals with you the rest of the time.
Picking up coffee on the go
Many people, when exhausted, reach for coffee. When you’re too tired to make coffee, you go through a lot of drive-throughs and pick up a cup of coffee — or several cups of coffee. Though there’s no one source for how much Americans are spending on coffee to go, most estimate the average coffee expenditure at around $1,100 per person per year. Depending on choices and generational patterns, younger workers may be spending more, based on their preferences for gourmet coffee drinks more expensive than a basic order.
How can you avoid this? The obvious answer is to make coffee at home, but this workaround can be tricky if you’re going from job to job and you need coffee to get you to the end of the day. A morning coffee isn’t going to go very far (or stay very warm) if you’re drinking several cups during a long workday. Luckily there’s a hack for this. If you invest in a good thermos, you can keep your morning pot of coffee hot and handy, and if you’re driving for a company like Uber or Lyft, a one-handed vacuum mug will do the same and fit into the cup holder in your car.
Having groceries delivered
Did you know that some grocery delivery services offer free membership to their employees so that they can have groceries delivered? It’s a clever business move on the company’s part, but depending on your habits and your delivery service, having groceries delivered can be more expensive than picking them up yourself.
How can you avoid this? One of the benefits of grocery delivery services is that they make you plan ahead — you make a list, and what’s on the list is delivered. There are no impulse buys because you’re not at the store. You can duplicate that benefit. Make a list and hit the grocery store once a week, or maybe even every two weeks, depending on the size of your household and what you’re buying. Buy only what’s on the list and nothing else. You can also take advantage of reward programs and coupons if you shop in person. No one likes going to the store and if your temp job is a professional grocery shopper, you’re probably sick of a grocery store at the end of the day. If that’s the case, it may be better to just bite the bullet and do one more run, this time for yourself. You’ve got an advantage, you know where everything is, you don’t have to worry about scanning everything or texting a customer about substitutions, and you might even get to use the same checkout you use when you’re shopping for work.
Sending out your laundry
Running around all the time, you may not have the time — or the inclination — to wash and fold your laundry. Instead, you might be sending it out to a home laundry service. The charges vary depending on where you live, what’s in the basket, and whether you opt for delivery. Angie’s List, says the average price to wash, dry and fold clothes can range anywhere from $0.90 to $3 a pound, and delivery fees range between $5 and $25.
How can you avoid this? This one is a little tricky.Depending on where you live and your access to laundry facilities, you may spend less when you send clothes out than you would if you did them yourself. Have your own washer and dryer? Then you should probably do your own laundry. If you don’t, and the alternative is spending a few hours at a laundromat you have to take public transportation to, or waiting to use the coin-operated washers in your apartment’s laundry room, you’re probably better off sending out your clothes. You can save time, money and aggravation.
What’s “convenience spending”? That’s up to the spender.
You’ve probably seen a trend in the above four items — what’s convenience spending for one person may be a necessity for another.
There’s nothing wrong with a little convenience spending, so long as you know what’s important to you to outsource. The point isn’t to judge you for loving take-out cappuccino, or for ordering groceries. It’s to help you manage the spending when you’re at wit’s end and in desperate need of caffeine, food, or a clean shirt.
The best way to do that is plan ahead, be honest about your spending habits, and track your income to see where your money is going.
Steady can help you do that with its income tracker, a tool to help you see the additional income you’re making with your temp work — and how you’re spending it.
What are you waiting for? Get Steady today.