TAMPA, Fla. - During the pandemic, there has been a surge in consumers downloading delivery apps, such as DoorDash, Instacart, and Uber Eats. The convenience of not having to leave your home to have your groceries delivered or a tasty meal delivered straight to your door is a blessing for many – especially during the quarantine.
But for any convenience, there is typically a fee that you'll have to pay and these delivery services are no different. How many fees are you paying? Well, it depends on what you are ordering and how quickly you want it.
But to give you a very specific example of how quickly the fees can add up, the Wall Street Journal recently analyzed how much a burger can cost.
The WSJ took a look at a Shake Shack burger -- not to be confused with my favorite burger from In-N-Out Burger that costs $8.99 if you were to purchase directly at the store. There was no upcharge on the cost of the burger, but there were additional costs of 76 cents for tax, a $1.99 delivery fee, $3 for a recommended tip, $3 for a small order fee, and $1.17 for a service fee, adding up to what ends up being a very expensive fast-food burger, totaling $18.91.
Now, I'm all about a tasty burger, but $18 for one burger is insane, especially since that won't come close to filling me up or my four kids.
Cutting Back on Convenience
When the pandemic started, trying to cook multiple meals a day for our four children was difficult. We found ourselves utilizing these services such as Instacart, Grubhub, and DoorDash more frequently.
The convenience was amazing, but when we finally started looking at our budget, we identified that we were spending way too much on these services. We then made a conscious effort to cut back and cook at home and stop having our groceries delivered.
Although for convenience, we typically do order online ahead of time and pay a nominal $5 fee to have our groceries brought out to our vehicle. For those that can't live without the $18 burger, are there any workarounds? Well, in fact, there are.
We'll take a look at two different services, Instacart Express and an Uber Eats Pass to see if there are ways to save money on food.
Instacart Express, for example, will run you $99 a year or $9.99 per month. They have priced this service very similar to one that you may already pay for, Amazon Prime. What the service offers is unlimited free delivery for any order over $35 and also reduced service fees.
Do you actually save money if you use the service? Instacart claims on their website, that Express users save an average of $7 per order. This is for a family that has groceries delivered at least once per week.
For an overall annual savings of $364, justifying the $99 service fee, I could see where a larger family such as mine, this could make sense. But the one thing that you have to keep in mind is that the prices of the items that you are purchasing through the Instacart app could be higher than what you'd actually pay if you were to purchase them directly in the store.
Taking a look at Uber Eats, this service will run you $9.99 per month. By signing up for the monthly fee, you'll save by not paying anything on delivery fees and they'll pass on a 5% savings for any order that is over $15. It sounds like a good deal, but you better check that your favorite restaurants are a part of the Uber Eats network.
I took a look at a popular wing franchise that my family loves to order from. The costs on the Uber Eats platform is 15% higher than what I would pay if I were to order from the restaurant directly. So, even though I'm saving 5% off Uber Eats, I'm still paying 10% more because of their Increase fees.
Ultimately, adding additional subscription services could potentially drain your checking account, instead of adding to it. During a global pandemic, it's typically more prudent to look for ways to save money, even if you lose some convenience.
Jeff Rose is a combat veteran, certified financial planner and founder of GoodFinancialCents.com