Nov 14 2013

Are you willing to pay for shipping and convenience?

Would you rather pay for shipping, or would you rather save that money and go pick it up in person?

I’m so glad my friend Karen blogged about this topic (How much is convenience worth to you?), as we were chatting about it a little on Facebook and I thought it would be an interesting topic for each of our blogs.

Karen was talking about going to a mall to hit two store’s semi-annual sales. She knew just what she wanted and figured she could be in and out in a short period of time. If it were me, I’d be more inclined to get those things shipped to me somehow. Taking three kids to a store in the cold? One of my least favorite things to do. I tend to hibernate in cold weather and when I have itty bitty babies — so now I’m doubly hibernating. I also do not like paying for shipping — and I try to get around it by:

  • using Amazon Prime for shipping (I split the cost with a few friends)
  • using coupon codes to lower my overall price, even if that code doesn’t equal free shipping, my total cost is still lower
  • using Ebates or something similar for cash back (can’t do that in a store!)
  • splitting shipping with a friend

Gas prices have lowered in my area recently, but gas will typically be a factor. If I were to drive to the nearest mall, it would be 20 miles round-trip. Perhaps a gallon of gas in my van, if I hit lots of stoplights.

When I factor the time of getting two kids to go potty, get proper clothes on, shoes, jackets — then nurse and change the baby, make sure I have what I need for her, get loaded in the van and out the door it’s a long time just for getting ready. Then when we’re actually out shopping, staying focused on my shopping list and not buying extras, or picking up a snack while we’re out because I forgot to do that ahead of time…pfft. Don’t want it.

I did pay obscene shipping the other day in the name of convenience and sanity. I had $20 in Kohl’s Cash to spend, earned from another online shopping order (that one did have free shipping). I knew I could spend way more to get free shipping, but I only wanted one thing. The item was $21 or so, and with a coupon code (hah!) and Kohl’s Cash it was like $0.08. With something like $7 in shipping.

Ugh. I hesitated. Do I buy it, happy to pay $7 ? Or do I trudge to Kohl’s with my baby, leave the big kids at home with Shane, and brave the maze and lines there, to save $7?

In the end, I bought it online. The size I wanted wasn’t available in my local store anyway, so that made it much easier. I reasoned that while I was paying gobs for shipping, my total out of pocket was acceptable to me and the effort required to save $7 was not worth it to me in the slightest.

In Karen’s post, she talked about the percent of shipping relative to her total expenditure. That’s one approach, but I prefer to just consider my entire out of pocket cost and decide if that price is worth it to me.

Consider the Venn diagram of time, money and energy:

time energy money venn diagram

Ideally, we’ll all have at least one of those circles going on at once. If we’re lucky, we’ll have two and if we’ve hit the jackpot, all three.

Right now, I have decent money, some time, and even less energy. So, having things shipped to my house, even if that means paying a little more, it’s saving time, energy and sanity. And so on.

How about you? Are you willing to pay for shipping, even if that means spending a little more, for that convenience?



6 Responses to “Are you willing to pay for shipping and convenience?”

  1. I actually do consider my total out of pocket, too! If the online price is so low that even with shipping it is the same or less than in store, I don’t mind. In your Kohl’s example, you paid $7.08 for $20-something in merchandise. Still not a bad deal even with shipping! Especially since the particular item you wanted wasn’t available in store. If it had been available in the store? Yeah, the cheapo in me would have been tempted by getting is practically FREE instead of paying that $7. I probably would have ended up at the store. Sigh. But I do totally get why people are willing to lay. It is just a thing for me that I can’t overcome. I love making my life harder in the name of saving money. Ha.

  2. I do both–if I know what I want it’s usually cheaper on amazon.com anyway! Or, I’ll try to go in with people to get free shipping from another site or google some codes. I have, on occasion, purchased stuff I didn’t necessarily NEED because it pushed me over to get free shipping (and, of course, was less than the shipping cost). I always figure I can take it back to the store if I don’t really want/need it and I’m bound to be around the store and it will be more convenient to return it.

    I have fallen into the trap of buying things online (almost always clothing) and then hating it when I get it in the mail. Then, sometimes the store doesn’t take it back and I have to ship it back–usually I forget, time expires, and I’m stuck trying to resell it or donate it.

  3. Karen also I think you like getting out of the house more than I do — and getting out can fill a real need in avoiding the stir-crazy

  4. I generally buy online if I can’t find it in the store. I love to shop, and shopping to get something I need to buy anyway sounds like a treat to me. I also like the instant gratification. And, I do try to shop locally as much as possible. Example, it’s a pain to pick up more cat food every 2 weeks when I could probably do Amazon subscribe and save, but the positives of having somewhere to go (we leave the house pretty much every day), and supporting my local pet store outweigh the annoyance. Even if I’m shopping at a big chain store, I still enjoy seeing the people. (Oh my gosh!! Am I an extrovert???)

    However, I 1) only have two kids, 2) don’t have a tiny baby, and 3) live in a warmer climate. Sooo my answer might change if any/all of those change. :-)

  5. I am totally willing to pay for shipping and convenience. There is a time where my time becomes more valuable than the money I could save by going to the store. I am a huge fan of Amazon Prime and I buy stuff from Amazon all the time. I have saved way more than my annual membership in shipping costs. Also it is so easy to return items because of their great return policy. I also like buying online because factors that might influence me to buy something (I’m tired, I’m angry, I just want to be out of the store). I don’t have kids but I imagine I’ll become even more of an online shopper when I become a parent. Thanks for the post.

  6. Several factors make it smarter for me to buy online when I can even if it means I pay shipping. I live out in the country and it not only costs quite a bit in gas to go shopping, but it takes a huge amount of drive time. I also tend to over spend when shopping in person. I stay away from temptations by shopping online.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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