The Cost of Convenience: When Saving Time Sabotages Your Budget

With new mobile apps and digital tools popping up every day, it's easy to succumb to their convenience without giving much thought to how they're impacting our budgets.

Interestingly, the term "convenience" is associated with increased costs. Consider convenience stores, where you pay a premium for grocery store staples and everyday items. There are also convenience fees that add a few dollars to the cost of everything from event tickets to online payments. In some cases, the extra expense is worth it. In others, it's just a waste of your hard-earned dollars. Here are several examples of apps and processes that can cost you more than necessary and how to get back on track.

[See: 10 Money-Saving Websites to Check Before Shopping.]

Saved payment information. Keeping your credit card information stored on a retail website saves time during checkout. However, it also makes it easier to succumb to impulse buys. There's nothing easier than clicking a single button to place an order. Amazon, for example, deems it important enough to hold a patent for its one-click purchase function. Entering your payment information each time you order online -- whether it's with Amazon or another favorite online retailer -- is the extra step you need to reconsider your purchase.

Bill pay. Missing payments on recurring bills and expenses can result in pricey late fees and ding your credit score. Enter bill pay: This service ensures that you never miss a payment by scheduling a recurring debit from your checking account in the amount owed. While this convenience helps you pay bills on time, it can actually cost you more since the set-it-and-forget-it method makes it easy to overlook instances when you're overcharged or billed incorrectly. Thankfully, you don't have to eschew the convenience of bill pay to avoid the potential pitfalls of its automation. Instead, keep a close eye on recurring charges and make sure they match up with expectations.

[See: 8 Big Budgeting Blunders -- and How to Fix Them.]

Automatic renewals. Services like Pandora Plus and Amazon Prime operate on an automatic-renewal basis, meaning subscribers do not receive notifications when renewals are forthcoming. Instead, saved payment information is charged automatically and subscribers are not given an opportunity to reconsider the service. Like bill pay, there's a side effect to this convenient payment system: Consumers are charged for a service they may or may not want to continue paying for.

To avoid the cost of this particular convenience, audit your budget regularly to identify and cancel recurring payments to services you no longer use. There's also a tool called Trim that reviews your spending, alerts you to recurring expenses and subscriptions and cancels them on your behalf.

Digital wallets. PayPal, Venmo (owned by PayPal) and Apple Pay are examples of digital wallets that remove the need for plastic or paper when completing a transaction. The appeal of these platforms is the speed with which transactions are completed, as well as increased security for those consumers who believe their financial information is more protected in the cloud than in their wallets.

While convenient, digital wallets diminish the pain of paying because, like credit cards, you don't actually spend money at the time of purchase. Instead, you spend money when you pay your credit card bill and by then, the purchase is mixed in with other purchases and just seems like any other bill. Digital wallets make paying even more effortless than credit cards by eliminating the need for consumers to dig through their purses or wallets to retrieve payment information. The fewer steps you have to take to part with your money, the faster you may likely do so.

Despite the budgetary danger presented by digital wallets, they're only as perilous as you allow them to be. Their ability to influence your spending is limited by your willpower. You know what you can afford and what products or experiences trigger the impulse to spend. Managed correctly, digital wallets can simply be a convenient way to pay for goods and services. If you find that you spend more, or more frequently, with digital wallets, consider returning to cash and reconnecting with your money.

[See: Your Month-to-Month Guide to Savings.]

Shopping and service apps. Mobile apps that facilitate such services as takeout and transportation enable users to "make" dinner for the evening or get home safely after a late night on the town. However, these apps also tempt you into making these luxuries a habit. After all, why walk several city blocks when there are tons of eager Ubers ready to drive you to your destination? Why endure the ennui of grocery shopping when Seamless makes it easy to get dinner on the table? The answer in both cases is money: These services, albeit convenient, can lead to serious bank account deficits between paychecks.

The same goes for some retailers' shopping apps, which enable you to browse the wares of your favorite stores and even make purchases directly from your mobile device. While this makes shopping for a birthday gift during your metro ride home convenient, it also leads to impulse purchases in the waiting room of your doctor's office and potentially exposes your financial information to hackers when you make purchases over public Wi-Fi. Plus, these apps often send push notifications about upcoming sales, driving you to make purchases you otherwise hadn't planned.

The first step in avoiding these temptations is to uninstall them from your device, so they're not as easy to access. The extra step it takes to coordinate a pickup or takeout order will give you an opportunity to rethink the purchase and remember your savings goals.

Kendal Perez has offered money-saving advice and expertise for over five years as the savings expert for, a top resource for online, mobile and in-store coupons. She has contributed to the My Money blog since 2014, where she has explored everything from hosting holiday dinners on a budget to how mindful practices can contribute to money savings. Her money and lifestyle-related tips have also been featured in Bankrate, Consumer Reports, Forbes, GOBankingRates, Kiplinger's Personal Finance and Learnvest. She is also a regular contributor to Denver morning news programs on the topics of shopping and saving money. You can find her on Twitter @HassleFreeSaver.