Earlier this year I cancelled my Amazon PRIME membership. It’s not because I’m disgruntled or didn’t enjoy their service. I’m actually a huge fan of Amazon. My reasons for cancelling were:
- I realized the “benefits” of PRIME membership can easily be found elsewhere – free shipping, fast shipping, convenience, streaming, etc. is not unique anymore.
- Even though value is decreasing, Amazon’s annual charges are increasing… (jumped ~20% this year!) Continuing my membership would be paying more to receive less.
- As a paying member, I felt a strong obligation to buy from amazon as much as possible. This was leading to spending when I didn’t need to, and lazy spending.
- I joined the LA public library and started borrowing books instead of buying them. (More on this below – big savings)
- There was no harm, costs, or risk to cancel. If I made a mistake I could always sign up again in a pinch.
Here’s more about my process and summary for ditching my Amazon PRIME membership and reducing my spending…
First, I Reviewed My Old Amazon Purchase History:
This info is pretty simple to find. (log in → click my account → preferences → download order reports)
I downloaded 2 years of order history and sorted it into categories. I was shocked at some of these stats, and immediately found ways I could cut back.
In 2017 our biggest spend was on books. Somewhere in 2018 we switched to using the LA public library system, which I’ll explain more about below.
In 2018 most of our spending was on gifts for others. Since we were traveling a lot of the year, convenience was the main factor here, ordering online and having gifts shipped directly to friends/family. 2019 has been a lower year on travel, we’ve been able to buy gifts locally and be more thoughtful with presents.
2019 Amazon Spend (No Prime):
Although we cancelled our amazon membership, we still purchase some things from them. Below is our 2019 spending to date. Free shipping and fast shipping are still available for many items on Amazon that aren’t “Prime”.
Dumping Amazon Prime & Alternative Online Shopping:
Walmart.com offer a free membership. You get free 2-day shipping on all orders over $35. Almost all the items have a 30 day return policy, online and in store.
Target.com also offer a free membership called REDcard. Free 2-day shipping on most items, and good return policy which is 90 days I think.
eBay.com is still pretty wicked for new and small items. I used eBay this year to buy a bike-tire repair kit (new, $4.95) and a Fitbit charger cable (new, $3.95) which was free and fast shipping.
99 Cent Store (physical, not online): Most of our basic kitchen and bath items I now buy at the local 99c store. I go to the 99 every week (for groceries) and pick up any needed kitchen/bath stuff there. It’s cheaper, and I don’t have to wait for shipping at all.
Brand Direct Websites: A ton of large retailers and manufacturers have their own online stores, many of which have free and fast shipping if ordered directly from them. I’ve bought jeans from levi.com and shirts from 32degrees.com for just as cheap as I can get them on Amazon Prime.
LA Public Library System:
Not sure why I didn’t join the library sooner. It’s pretty wicked. And it’s completely free, as long as you return books on time.
There are about 25 libraries spread across Los Angeles. All of their inventories are shared and available to view in the LAPL iPhone app. You can borrow physical books, digital copies (yes, for your Kindle), audiobooks and movies.
The process is simple. When I hear of good book, I search for it in the iPhone App directory. Then I simply request a “hold” on it. They LAPL system automatically finds an available copy at one of the LA locations, and has it transferred to my local branch to be held under my name. When it arrives, I get an email that tells me it’s ready for pickup. Easy!
All in all, the process to find/borrow a book is just as easy as buying on Amazon. But instead of shipping to my house, it’s shipped to the library – a short 9 minute walk from my house. (sometimes I ride my motorbike there)
Since the beginning of 2019, my wife and I have borrowed over 40 books. We’ve saved at least $400 by joining the library already.
Why Am I Such a Tight-ass?
You might be thinking, “Who cares? Amazon membership is only $119 per year and it comes with free TV and movies. Don’t be such a tight-ass”
True, and I probably said the same thing myself a couple years ago. But it’s not about the money, it’s more about the value. I don’t want to pay for anything I don’t get value from, no matter how big or small.
I’m curios… What is your Amazon spend? Are you a Prime member?