I love Amazon, perhaps a bit too much, but recently we decided to not renew our Prime Membership. When we were in law school it was a no-brainer, as my husband only paid $39.99/year for the student membership. Then it went back to the regular $79, and now it's jumped to almost $100. While that's not bad monthly, I began to think about why we had it and if it was worth it to have it for the whole year. For now, it doesn't seem to be worth it, and here's why:
1. It makes it too easy to order things.
If you're trying to not spend money, you should be trying to make ordering things more difficult, just like you wouldn't be stocking your freezer with ice cream if you were trying to lose weight. The process of buying things at Amazon and having them delivered in a couple of days is so streamlined and painless (generally a good thing in retail) that it's too easy to put things in the cart and order them. While it may sound weird to some people, I kind of like the idea of having to wait until I reach a minimum $50 order for free shipping. Having to wait for a while forces me to think about what I want to purchase and whether I really need it.
2. Some stores will price match Amazon.
I wasn't aware until recently that stores like Toys R Us and Target will price match Amazon if you show them the price. I haven't tried this myself yet but have friends who use this policy regularly to save money there. It doesn't take care of the fact that Toys R Us doesn't always have the selection Amazon might have, but it does make it easier to save money.
Walmart also has an online price match policy with Amazon, and in an article at I'd Rather Be Shopping, apparently they don't match Prime prices because you have to be part of a membership club in order to get those prices. I was puzzled by this, as being part of Prime is more about the shipping, not the prices you get.
3. I often find better deals for the things I need at other online retailers or through used sales.
I purchase a few things at Amazon that are cheaper there than at other places, like vitamins and some sewing supplies. But for homeschool books, one of my favorite resources for new purchases is Rainbow Resources. Their prices are almost always the same as or cheaper than Amazon.
4. We have a great library system that will often order a book we want if they don't have it.
When we first moved here five years ago, the first thing we did was to check out our county's library system, and we were in awe as we walked through the doors into one of the nicest libraries we've ever known. Not only does our library have all of the latest DVD releases and many New York Times Bestseller books, their children's wing is amazing, and they have purchased about 90% of what we requested so far if they didn't already have it.
5. I don't really need more ways to watch television.
We've had Netflix before, but when we were in law school Amazon Prime made sense because it was cheaper annually than Netflix and we really didn't need two streaming video services. Now we find that with Roku as well as a Mohu Leaf Antenna, we have access to shows on PBS and a few of the major networks. Do we really need more ways to watch television? If our income is so tight, I'd like to think that it would be better to use that free time to start a side venture or work on some home improvement projects and DIY skills through Youtube tutorials.
6. I would like to use the $100 a year for something else, like a tool or wood and supplies so that we can build furniture.
The monthly breakdown of Amazon Prime is not terrible, but over a year, it adds up to a decent amount of money. What if we just put $9.25/month in our savings account to put toward a new tool for the kitchen or home? And with free plans on Ana-White.com, you could build a number of pieces for $100.
7. I can still get free month trials for the times I need them, or <gasp> order from Amazon and wait a little bit longer.
When I thought about why I like to use Amazon Prime, the main reason was that there are often better prices around Christmas time when we're ordering gifts for our children. We each have an account with Amazon, and on mine, which I haven't used for awhile, I have an offer for a free month's trial which I could use during that time. For other times, like birthdays, it really isn't that hard to either price match at a local retailer or hit the minimum $50 order.
8. This leads me to my final point - I just learned that Amazon Prime now offers a monthly option for $10.99. This is more monthly than you would pay if you subscribed for a whole year, but I like the idea of paying $11 once a year (say, around Christmas) and ordering a number of things we'll need for the year rather than doing it a little at a time. And, saving $88 by doing this would give me more to spend on stuff I might actually need.
What about you? Do you have Amazon Prime? What are your thoughts on trying to live without it?