Are Local Grocery Delivery Services Worth the Cost?
With our lives feeling busier than ever, it's easy to justify dining out. In fact, the average household in America spends an average of $3,008 per year on meals outside of the home, versus $4,363 on groceries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not only does this get expensive, but dining out oftentimes lends itself to unhealthy choices. With the rise of local grocery delivery services such as Amazon Fresh, Instacart, and Walmart Grocery, you might be able to strike a balance between saving time and eating at home more often. But is the cost of convenience worth it?
Here's how to gauge whether those local grocery delivery services are worth the cost:
How Much Does It Cost?
- Amazon Fresh: If you want unlimited same-day delivery, Amazon Fresh charges $14.99 a month. Delivery is free if you spend over $50, and $9.99 for each order under $50.
- Instacart: Instacart charges $9.99 for a monthly membership. Without a membership, it's $3.99 for orders over $35 and two-hour delivery. There's a fee of $3.99 if your order is under $35 or if you want your groceries delivered within two hours. If you'd prefer for your groceries to be delivered within the hour of placing your order, the cost is $7.99 plus a 5 percent service fee.
- Walmart Grocery: If you use Walmart's services, it's $9.95 with a minimum of $35 per order. While this is only available in a handful of cities, you'll receive same-day delivery. In some cases, groceries can be dropped off to your doorstep in as little as four hours.
How Much Time Will You Save?
Let's say it normally takes you a total of 30 minutes for a roundtrip drive to the local grocery store and you normally go grocery shopping once a week. Start by figuring out how much your time is worth and if that time may be better spent with your family, exercising, or on a passion project.
Not only will you save time by not having to trek over to the market, but you'll also save a bit of money by not having to pay for gas or the bus fare.
How Much More Will You Spend by Shopping Online?
While it may save you time and gas money, it's far too easy to buy more than you need when shopping online. A recent survey revealed that people tend to underestimate how much money they actually spend while shopping online. So if you thought you spent around $50 the last time you made a purchase on Amazon, chances are it may have been closer to $100.
Test out the Waters with a Free Trial
Before committing, test out the local grocery delivery service with a free trial. Amazon Fresh offers a free 30-day trial. And Instacart allows you to try it for free for 14 days. Stagger the trial periods so you can focus on one at a time.
During the trial period, you can see how much you actually spend, if you end up eating healthier, and if the items you normally purchase are available. Unless you fall in love with the service, don't forget to set up a reminder to cancel before your trial period is up, otherwise your card may get unexpectedly charged.
Stick to a Budget
To see how much you typically spend on grocery shopping in a given month, check your transactions from markets on a money management app. You can also check debit or credit card statements. If you spend $100 a week, aim to spend no more than that.
Don't forget to tack on the delivery and subscription fee to each order. So if you plan on ordering local groceries online once a week, that's about $4 an order.
Review Items Before Hitting "Buy"
Look through your online shopping cart to make sure you aren't buying too many things you don't need or may not use, and that you're sticking to your budget. The beauty of ordering groceries in the comfort of your own home is that you can check your cupboard to make sure you aren't doubling up on anything.
Depending on your situation and needs, local grocery delivery services could be a worthwhile investment. Just make sure to do your due diligence before committing to what you think will be a money saver, but will actually end up costing you more in the long run.