March Madness: My money mindset for 31 days, Day 4

Day 4: Groceries and the on-demand economy
Days Remaining: 27
Budget remaining: $959.52

Today’s Expenses: $132.15
Instacart: $132.15

I try to save Saturdays for all of my “be a real person / adult” stuff like doing laundry, shopping for groceries, and general tidying up of the apartment. And by “be a real person”, I mean be an on-demand economy (ODE) powered millennial (1984 still counts), and outsource a few of these things. My girlfriend and I divide a few costs around the apartment. She takes care of the laundry, and I take care of the food shopping.

Laundry: $0 (for me)
I use a laundry merchant that has been servicing my community (Stuyvesant Town) for years. I won’t go off on a rant here, but they are only good enough at what they do to keep me using them since this cost doesn’t hit my monthly expenses. I formerly ran operations for an ODE laundry and dry cleaning startup, Cleanly, and obsessed about every detail one possibly could when it came to laundry. It’s funny what you can learn to care about when you are driving value for other people. Suffice it to say that this merchant is not as good, but it is cheaper, and until a local competitor comes along (or my friends at Cleanly drop their prices) we’ll likely stay with them.

Groceries: $132.16
For those interested in seeing my item by item breakdown, please follow this link:

I was expecting to spend a little more than this since I’m now budgeting around $160 a week for food, but a few of the items that I had ordered were not found by my personal shopper, Jamie. Personal shopper, it sounds like some absent minded daydream crashed into one of the chores on my weekend to do list. And if I’m being honest this is where I’m a little conflicted. I have a pretty strong feeling that any cost of doing business should not belong to the customers’ discretion. Instacart allows me to opt out of costs to their workforce in two ways:

1) An optional 10% service fee, which I disable at checkout every time. In this case, it reduces my bill by $12.23.

2) A 10% — 20% tipping feature, which I don’t participate it in. Call that another $12.23, if I went with their lowest suggest option.

So let’s review, assuming both a 10% tip and service fee, I bypass $24.46 in optional charges, and then gladly pay my mandatory $7.99 delivery fee to get my food delivered the same day. If I were to go to my closest fully stocked grocery store, I’d likely have to rent a taxi to get home with my bags, which means now I’m out both the cost of the groceries, taxi, and my time. Not going to happen.

Don’t get me wrong I love the control I have to reduce this expense. Especially this month, but then there is Jamie. A person I’ve never met that might be and likely is counting on a portion of his income to come from tips, because his employer / partner is paying ~$10.00/hr (based on Glassdoor). It’s enough to make me notice (if not upset) every time I hit checkout, and this week marks the first time I’ve rated below my standard 5 stars.

If you’re interested in more info about these charges, please check out this article from Recode: and post from Instacart:

Thanks for reading.

Day 5: Emergency donuts and the hidden subscription →

←Day 3: My second zero dollar day and a night out

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