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Beyond needs and wants is the price of convenience.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Frequently, I would mention that there is a price to be paid for convenience. When something is more convenient for us, it usually means that it requires less or no work on our part. Usually, this can only be so because someone else has done much or all of the work for us.

Whether something is convenient or inconvenient for us is usually relative. If we have to do a lot of work in order to save some money, then, it might not be worth the trouble. Of course, I understand that what is considered inconvenient will differ from person to person. So, I am just sharing what any reasonable person might agree with.

For example, at last year's InvestX Congress, I shared on stage how I walked to a nearby supermarket to get a bottle of water instead of buying the same in a food court where I had dinner with some friends. It was probably a 50 meter walk. It wasn't too far away.

So, the inconvenience that I had to suffer to buy bottled water from a supermarket was negligible. For more convenience, I would have had to pay $1.50 for the same bottled water in the food court while it was just $0.60 in the supermarket.

For people who are addicted to coffee, I have also mentioned in my blog before how we could save lots of money by not buying coffee from coffee shops and to simply bring a packet of 3 in 1 coffee mix to work daily. 

It isn't too inconvenient to put a packet of 3 in 1 coffee mix in our bag to bring to work, is it? Depending on where we usually get our daily coffee fixes, the savings could range from maybe a dollar to several dollars a day.

For an event last month, I used the example of herbal tea. Herbal tea? Yes, in a place like Singapore where it is summer the whole year round, shops selling herbal tea, including Chinese medicine halls, do a roaring trade.

(OMG! This is Panda Dung Tea and guess how much is it?)

How much does it cost to take away a 500ml plastic bottle of chrysanthemum and ginseng herbal tea? $1.50 or so, I would guess. (If you were to look carefully, in some shops, they have kept their prices unchanged but the bottles have become slimmer. Same height but slimmer.)

OK, the question is whether it is inconvenient to make our own herbal tea? Alamak, must buy chrysanthemum flower, ginseng roots and liquorice. Throw in boiling water, let it cool, bottle and then bring to work. So much work! Definitely too inconvenient!

What if I were to show you a herbal tea bag? Yes, a tea bag. Just bring a packet to work each day and just let the tea bag steep in warm water. Have freshly brewed herbal tea in seconds. Very inconvenient? I don't think so.

Cost? $1.05 for a pack of 3 tea bags from NTUC Fairprice. (2016 UPDATE: It is now $1.50.)

Each tea bag could easily produce up to 1.5 litres of herbal tea. This is my experience.

If you drink a lot of herbal tea like I do, you might want to consider this product which is made in Singapore.

I feel that very often people are worried about losing face. Alamak! I am sure people talk about me frequently about my habits but these people don't matter, I feel, my bank account does.

So, beyond thinking whether it is a need or a want, the next time you think of buying something, just pause for another moment and think whether you are paying too much for convenience, if any.

Related post:
How to recession proof your life?

Note: This is not an advertorial. AK derives no monetary benefits from sharing this find.


fatasnatas said...

what if it's a want and it has future value? like self-improvement or education?

Rebel said...

I want the Singapore government savings bonds


Hosaybo said...

For bottled water example, we are talking about equivalent. However, in the case of 3 in 1 coffee, it is not. Some people like me who love coffee simply hate 3 in 1.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Since I can't "beat" you - and I mean it literally - I might as well join you!

By taking a few more extra steps to buy from the supermarket, we not only save money, we are exercising and increasing our metabolic rate too!

A few steps here, a few steps there - they all add up to 10,0000 steps per day :)

We burn fats, look better and feel better too!

OK, now I need to go to the toilet to Merlion myself...

AK71 said...

Hi fatasnatas,

This is a difficult one, isn't it? Let me see if I can simplify the decision making process.

If we need to improve ourselves, it is probably because if we don't, we would be at a disadvantage in some way.

If we want to improve ourselves, it probably suggests that if we do not do it, we would not suffer in any way. Even if we think it will have future value, it is a nice to have and not a must have.

If a want should become a need in future, then, that is a different story. ;)

AK71 said...

Hi Rebel,

I have my reservations about the savings bond. Although I have written 3 blog posts on the subject already, I might do another one later.

Singapore Savings Bonds (Part 3).

AK71 said...

Hi Hosaybo,

I think the Nescafe White Coffee is quite nice. No? OK, I am not a coffee gourmet. Taste is very personal, I guess. ;p

AK71 said...


Merlion spouts water non-stop de. Your stream is strong. You might become a tourist attraction! ;p

Hosaybo said...

Guess to really save money, you can, 1. Bring a small water bottle out for lunch instead of buying bottled water...hey you save the environmwnt also. 2. Get a big pack of chrysanthemum tea plus gingseng roots from the medical hall and those empty tea bags from value shop and pack your own tea bags....and 3. Get coffee from your office pantry. ;)

AK71 said...

Hi Hosaybo,

Thanks for sharing your ideas. All good. :)

This blog post, at its core, is really to get people thinking.

How much work are we willing to put in? How much inconvenience are we willing to suffer? How much is considered too much? ;p

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