I love Amazon.com, and there’s no doubt that I do a majority of my shopping on there. Amazon offers just about anything you could want to buy, and I find their prices are among the best of anywhere in the world. They also offer free shipping deals, which make shopping on there even more worth it.
If you haven’t heard of it yet, Amazon offers a shipping service called “Amazon Prime.” The program enables you to pay $79 a year and get unlimited 2-day shipping on anything sold by Amazon, as well as $3.99 overnight shipping, per item. Amazon offers a free trial to anyone, and Prime is totally free to students with .edu emails.
I paid for Amazon prime for 3 years, and then decided to cancel. The reason why: I was spending way too much money on Amazon! I know from experience that Amazon Prime resulted in more orders and I’m sure that Amazon added Prime so it would increase their bottom line.
My spending history on Amazon
I started using Amazon Prime in June 2006 and continued until September 2009. During that time, I spent thousands of dollars on Amazon and placed hundreds of orders. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly how much I spent (Amazon doesn’t aggregate the amounts, which is a smart move). But I can break it down by the number of orders:
2006: 25 orders
2007: 26 orders
2008: 55 orders
2009: 84 orders
2010: 40 orders
2011: 11 orders (to date)
There’s definitely a correlation between Amazon Prime and my total order count, as you can see I peaked with 84 orders in 2009 then dropped off sharply in 2010. I should note that most of the orders on Amazon Prime where for only one item. This is both good and bad, as I see it. It’s good because I’m only buying one item, which should cost less than buying many items. It’s bad because buying one item means that I’m not planning out my orders as well.
My problem with Amazon Prime: it promoted impulse buying. By offering essentially free shipping (after paying the $79 annual fee), there was almost no barrier for me to make purchases. I didn’t have to hit a minimum order total to get free shipping, and the item would come in two days. Instead of going out to a store to buy something, two days was hardly a wait, considering it would probably take me at least that long to make the trip if I was pressed for time. However, having to make a trip to the store is what prevents a lot of our impulse buys in the first place. Most people don’t jump in the car as soon as they want to make a purchase, but that’s exactly what I was doing with Amazon Prime. With Prime, I’d literally go from deciding I wanted something, finding it on Amazon, and ordering it in less than 10 minutes. While this was great for convenience, it did a number on my wallet. A lot of the things I ordered weren’t things I needed and regretted purchasing later.
But I still like Amazon…
When is Amazon Prime good? When you can sincerely exercise self control. I think a lot of people think they have self control, but don’t when it comes to buying (just like with credit cards). If you can really limit your purchases to only what you need, you can save a good amount of time and money using Amazon Prime.
I still shop on Amazon all the time, although I don’t buy as much stuff as I used to (on Amazon or otherwise). I think Amazon has the best prices out there, and I can’t think of a time I’ve been disappointed. Perhaps one day I’ll go back to using Amazon Prime (especially since Amazon is offering more food items these days and even free streaming video now). In the meantime, I’m plenty happy with their “Free Super Saver Shipping” and the other great deals they offer.
p.s. – a note regarding recent Money Spruce posts (including this one):
I’ve been getting a lot of feedback saying things like “___ is only a problem when it’s not used responsibly.” I totally agree on most of what could fill in the blank here (credit cards, for instance). The is that most Americans suck at being responsible and managing money and most of the topics I’ve chosen are intended to work towards solving these money problems.
If you’re someone that doesn’t have these problems and has most or all of your money issues figured out, that’s fabulous. I’m really happy for you. Unfortunately, for most of us (including me), that isn’t the case. Until it is (and I don’t think that it ever will be) the case, my goal is to help those solve their problems and move in the right direction. To me, that’s a lot to these issues than simply telling people how to rationalize spending and finances. If every financial problem was as simple as yelling at people and saying “YOU JUST NEED TO BE RESPONSIBLE!” there would be no point to Money Spruce.
I’ll happily accept tips and advice from others’ successes, and I’ll be glad to hear your rebuttal if you think I’m off base, but please realize a majority of these problems don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution.
For everyone that takes the time to read Money Spruce and leave comments, I’d like to say thanks. It means a lot to me, and I really feel like we’re all working together to improve the (financial) lives of others and ourselves.
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photo by: Phing.