Back in 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many shoppers turned to Amazon to get their everyday essentials delivered right to their doors rather than facing in-store shopping and the associated health risks.
While it’s still acceptable — and safe — to continue to shop for essentials on Amazon in 2023, you may be wanting to cut back on all of the impulsive “add to cart” purchases that you may not really need.
Here are six key signs that Amazon spending is impacting your finances, as well as some tips for how to cut back spending with the mega online retailer.
You Shop Out of Boredom
If you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through Amazon, pause and put your phone or computer away before you buy something you don’t need. And if that doesn’t work, take a look at your bank account and see just how much money is actually being spent trying to fill a void of ennui.
“Many people fall into the trap of impulse shopping on Amazon when they browse without purpose or when trying to kill time or when they’re bored,” said Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money saving expert. “Even small purchases add up when you’re buying without thought or consideration regularly.”
Prime Membership Weighs You Down
Prime is the exclusive club membership where you can get discounts and deals, as well as take advantage of sales on Prime Day. Of course, it does come at an annual cost.
“This is going to sound crazy, but you can potentially cut your Amazon spending by canceling your Prime membership,” said Todd Stearn, the founder and CEO of The Money Manual. “The average American Amazon Prime member spends $110 on Amazon each month, according to a 2023 survey by Upgraded Points. Compare this to the average of $38 per month for non-members.”
It could be that your Prime membership just makes it too darn convenient to say no to shopping!
Default Sellers Are Your Go-To
Amazon feels like a one-stop shop, but the truth is there are more vendors on the site than just Amazon itself; and, if you go with the company as the default seller, you end up spending more money.
“Shoppers often overlook that there are multiple buying options for a particular product sold on Amazon from a variety of third-party sellers, and the site doesn’t automatically list the cheapest option,” Woroch said. “It requires a bit of digging to find the least expensive product price on Amazon, but there are tools that can help you. Just download Cently to your browser and their Amazon Best Price feature will automatically alert you if there is a cheaper buying option from an alternative reputable seller for the same item on Amazon.”
You Click ‘Buy’ Without Checking Your Total
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether an item is something you really need when you’re caught up in the moment. Take the time to see what your final cart’s adding up to be — with shipping, taxes and other fees, it might be more than you think.
“Walk away from the potential purchase to give yourself some time to think it over,” Woroch said. “When you’re shopping online or via your mobile device, add the item to your cart but then click out of the browser or app for a few moments. If it’s an unnecessary item, chances are the urge to buy it will pass, and you will dodge that impulse purchase.”
Auto Deliveries Are Never on Pause
“The ‘subscribe and save’ feature offering 5% [savings] on purchases is a nice benefit for Amazon Prime members, but it also leads to overspending and can cost you more in the long run,” Woroch said. “First of all, the 5% savings may still not be cheaper than if you shopped around.”
Retailers like Target and Walmart now offer free curbside pickup or free delivery with a minimum order amount, so it might be just as convenient to order from them, and they might have the same item you want for cheaper than Amazon. In addition, you might be getting unnecessary automatic deliveries.
“When you set up the subscribe and save, it’s set up on auto delivery,” Woroch said, “and most people don’t manage the frequency for their deliveries or end up setting up auto delivery on items they really don’t need, which ends up being a waste of money in the long run.”
You Go Over Your Monthly Limit on Your Amazon Spending
You do it for other bills, from your groceries to your rent. So why not plan and calculate Amazon spending just as you would any other line item in your monthly budget?
One hack that can help you stick to your allotted monthly amount is to load an Amazon gift card each month with the amount you’ve budgeted — once that gift card is empty, don’t buy anything else on Amazon until you reload at the beginning of the next month.
Jake Arky contributed to the reporting of this article.
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