Amazon recently announced they are hiking their annual membership from $79 to $99. It’s time to ask yourself an important question…is it worth $100? What do you really get from it? I was a Prime member in the early years when I could still use my edu email address and get the student rate of $39/year. When it came time to renew, I would have had to pay the full $79 and my instinct was to do it until my husband pointed out that we don’t use it all that much. How easily I could have fallen for another year’s payment, with their hands-free automatic deduction and all. Let’s consider the reasons people have Prime.
Sure, it’s great to have an additional streaming site for videos, but how often do you actually watch something on it? At the time I was considering dropping it, I thought back and realized almost all of the things we watched on Prime were rentals that we paid for–not the free streaming that comes with the membership. We already pay $8 a month for Netflix and have Apple TV and HBO Go, which offer rentals and free movies respectively. Not to mention, we love our neighborhood’s independent video store (I’m a 90’s kid, I’ll always call it that) and try to take advantage of their “rent one, get one free” nights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The other awesome option is Redbox, which we’ve been using more frequently lately. We rented an Oscar nominated film a few days before the awards show for $1.33! And we were able to reserve it online first to ensure it was in stock when we went to pick it up. With all these options at our disposal, the streaming reason is no longer an argument for keeping Prime.
The more common use for the Prime, is of course, the free shipping. I invite you try an exercise with me. I’ll wait. Go to your amazon page, click on “your orders” and check out how many you’ve made so far in 2014. For me, it’s five in just about three months, or 1.67 things a month. I can’t wait to use that .67 of the screen protector for my phone. Anyway, if you take the new rate and divide it by a year, you will be paying $8.25/month for this service. And if you’re anything like me, you’re buying one thing a month. Maybe you’re not, maybe you use it constantly (why are you buying so much stuff?!). Either way– here’s the thing: I have paid zero in shipping so far this year. I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll say it again, I HATE PAYING FOR SHIPPING, so why would I pay for it in bulk? I’m sure you’ve noticed that Amazon offers free shipping on orders over $35. Not everything qualifies for this, but a lot of items do. This is how we buy everything on there, in groups of $35 or more. I will sit at my computer and manipulate my shopping cart so that I get just the right amount of used items that qualify for free shipping and total the minimum they require. I have actually played around to compare the difference of when you don’t do this and had my cart full of things that totaled around $11 in shipping. When I rearranged the purchases of the exact same things (switched out for a different seller or used version), I got rid of that wasteful extra cost. It just takes time and thought and honestly, it’s a fun achievement when you pull it off. It feels like you’re cheating the system…that they…invented.
TWO DAY SHIPPING
The last and perhaps most attractive reason for Prime is that you get what you ordered in two days. Man is that nice for the non-planner. But assuming you are a reader who is trying to live a quality frugal life, then you must know by now that a huge part of this journey is planning ahead. In what scenario do you need your item in two days? I can’t think of one. You know you’re going to that baby shower at least a month in advance. You don’t need a book that fast do you? It’s a trick! They are preying on our society’s need for speed! The “downside” to the $35 free shipping is that you have to wait longer; between 5-8 days, but it’s often faster. If it really is an urgent need, most towns offer actual buildings that you can walk into and buy things.
I think this is surely a convenient option to those for whom time is money, but I still deem it unnecessary. No one needs it, you just want it. You’d never heard of it five years ago. What did you do before? Today is the last day that new members can sign up and still get the $79 subscription. Starting tomorrow it will be $20 more. So now is a good time to challenge yourself and ask, is it worth it? What else could you be doing with $100?