The inconvenient cost of convenience

 

With nearly everyone having a smartphone these days, it’s fair to say we’re living in an age of on-demand gratification. Whether you’re booking a taxi, ordering food or getting your laundry done, it’s now easier, faster and more accessible than ever before.

A few quick clicks can get you almost anything you want. But what effect is all this speedy convenience having on our personal finances? Are apps increasing our impulse spending? If so, do companies have a responsibility to help their customers manage their finances?

We asked 1,400 ‘convenience app’ users in the UK about their spending habits to help us figure out whether convenience really is a price worth paying.

 

The results were surprising:

  • 76% said apps like Uber, Deliveroo and, Laundrapp make it easy to spend more than they wanted to
  • 40% said they regularly overspend​ while using apps
  • 61% spend £720 a year (3.6% of net annual salary) through convenience apps
  • 71% said they don’t have a budget set aside for this type of spending
  • 14% had no idea how much they spend per month using convenience apps

 

The data shows people are not including convenience in their budgeting, which leads to overspending. Tim Anson, Satsuma’s Commercial Director, commented: “This study shines a light on the UK’s view of how healthy convenience apps are for their personal finances. It’s all too easy to pull your phone out and order something with little or no thought of the cost. The fact that 39% of respondents said they regularly overspend via apps and 14% have absolutely no idea how much they are spending is a red flag for me.”

He added: “Obviously, retailers and service providers are all about meeting demand as fast as they can and taking our money equally as fast. However, it’s clear that, as a nation, we’re not in control of our app-spending. Consumers need app developers to help them out by including functionality that promotes responsible spending. I’m also concerned that 47% have no idea how apps make their companies money, which suggests the majority of people aren’t aware of hard-to-spot service charges and fees.”

 

Here are some other key findings from the survey:

  • 40% use convenience apps once a week or more
  • 71% don’t set aside a budget for this type of spending, but think they should
  • 61% spend up to £60 a month (£720 a year or 3.6% of annual net salary) on apps
  • 10% spend up to £100 per month (£1,200 a year or 6% of annual net salary) on apps
  • 39% said they do, 45% said they don’t and 15% aren’t sure when it comes to overspending on convenience apps
  • 76% said apps make it too easy to spend more money than you should
  • 55% said apps should have spending caps or notifications (like you have with mobile data usage) to help stop overspending
  • 23% said they’ve uninstalled apps because they’ve spend too much money
  • 47% said they have no idea how apps make money for companies
  • 11% think apps are free
  • 24% believe apps make money by adding service charges
  • 14% believe apps make money by raising the cost of goods and services

 

All in all, smartphones can be a really helpful part of modern life. What this study shows, however, is we need to keep a closer eye on the way we use certain apps. Thinking about our budget, the same way we would before a shopping trip or a night out, before we use a convenient app would be a