When my husband and I lived in New York City, we became spoiled. Every two weeks, a truck would show up to our second-floor walkup, and a strapping young man would deliver fresh groceries to our door. How did we get sucked into such a luxury? FreshDirect, the city's top grocery deliverer, was offering a promo for first-time customers, and Johnny and I decided to give it a try. We found that promo or not, having our groceries delivered was comparable and often cheaper than shopping at our local grocers. No more carrying groceries five blocks as each of our fingers slowly lost circulation? Yes, please.
While grocery delivery may currently only be the norm in metro areas, soon it may be an option for you. And you. And you. Amazon.com (AMZN) and Walmart Stores (WMT) have recently joined the grocery delivery industry. While AmazonFresh was only available in Seattle just a year ago, it has now expanded to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Before you shrug this off as a modern-day fairytale (delivery by drone?) or just an unnecessary extravagance, consider the following reasons grocery delivery could save you money -- and most definitely time:
No More Impulse or Distracted Purchases
Oreos on a screen are much less tempting than an actual package in a grocery store. Marketers spend millions of dollars figuring out the most effective ways of tempting you while you browse the aisles. By shopping online, you can stay focused on the shopping list. And you won't have a toddler screaming and grabbing items off the shelf as you struggle to compare prices on salad dressing.
However unbelievable it may seem, prices for delivered groceries tend to be comparable to local grocers. And just like local grocers, delivery services offer coupons, weekly specials and price matching. Some companies even waive the delivery fee once your total reaches a certain amount. My husband and I made a habit of only ordering if we had a coupon for free delivery, which happened regularly.
Grocery delivery eliminates the costs incurred for traveling to and from the grocery store, which means no more money spent on gasoline or a cab fare. And the opportunity cost of avoiding the grocery store means you can do your shopping while watching Jimmy Fallon at night.
Knowing the Total Before You Buy
I try to add up how much my groceries are going to cost as I shop in brick-and-mortar stores, but inevitably I lose count or get distracted. With online grocery shopping, you can see the total before you confirm your order. And that means you can check and double check whether each item is really necessary. It's both more difficult and less likely to go back on purchases that have already been rung up by a cashier.
While currently only a handful of cities have grocery delivery, within the next 10 years, it might be an option for most of the country. And when that day comes, you can bet that my wallet and I will be first in virtual line to have groceries delivered to our door, drone and all.
Joanna and Johnny are the writing duo behind OurFreakingBudget.com, a personal finance blog documenting the joys, pains and realities of living on a budget.