As busy working parents, my husband and I rely heavily on the speed and ease of ordering online, especially through sites such as Amazon. While we both find it important to shop around to compare prices for the best deal, we also value our time and would rather spend quality time together as a family doing something special rather than driving around town to shop for necessities.
With that said, it’s easy to go overboard when all you have to do is click the “buy” button. There have been moments my husband and I realized that Amazon causes us to overspend on items we didn’t really need. For instance, it took us nearly three years to realize that we both had separate Amazon accounts (this was pre-marriage, but still, what a waste of money). Luckily, we decided it was time to rein in our online purchases.
This is how I cracked down on our Amazon spending — and you can, too.
Step 1: Delete the App
I often found myself browsing Amazon while sitting on the couch, waiting for a doctor’s appointment or to board a flight to see if any of the items in my wish list were on sale or just to see what types of deals I could get on things I had been eyeing. This often turned into a black hole of shopping, luring me in to check out other products and make impulse purchases. I specifically found it way too easy to click on the app and automatically log into my account. So, I decided to delete the app (along with other retail apps) from my phone, which ultimately helped remove the temptation to shop when feeling bored. Instead, I now load e-books on to my phone to keep myself busy when I have some downtime.
Step 2: Remove Payment Information
Now that my hubby and I have to enter our payment information each time we want to buy something, it gives us more time to think through those impulse purchases. Not to mention, this offers an additional layer of security from potential hackers who could steal sensitive personal information by breaking into our Amazon account.
Step 3: Track All Purchases
Although setting a budget is a crucial step toward managing spending, the only real way to stay in control of your finances is to watch each and every dollar you spend. This is why we linked all of our debit and credit cards through Mint, a financial tracking app. We are better able to monitor where our money goes now, and the app provides real-time notifications every time a purchase posts to one of our accounts, keeping us accountable and much more careful about what we buy. Plus, knowing that my husband can see how much I spend almost instantly makes me much more careful to only buy the things we really need.
Step 4: Think About How You Can Use That Money in Other Ways
When I get tempted to buy something I really don’t need, I try to visualize other ways I could use that money — even if it’s just a few bucks. For instance, could that money go toward a date night with my husband or maybe toward a vacation? The act of visualizing myself enjoying special moments and experiences helps me avoid unnecessary spending. I also found it helpful to remove items from my wishlist, so that those products don’t keep tempting me to buy them.
Step 5: Compare Prices and Get Cash Back
Although I’ve realized how important it is to refrain from overspending on Amazon, sometimes there are things I need to buy, whether it’s diapers and formula for our baby or a new phone charger to replace the one I lost while traveling. In these instances, Amazon has been a great tool, since I know I can get the products I need quickly. However, I still find it important to shop savvy, compare prices and get cash back to help me stretch the dollars I spend. For instance, RankTracer helps me find recent price drops on products sold through Amazon to help me narrow in on the best deal and Swagbucks provides cash back on all my purchases. I can then redeem points toward gifts to cover other expenses so I feel better about what I buy.
More on Online Shopping: 23 Secret Ways to Save Money on Amazon
Step 6: Make Use of All That Amazon Has to Offer
The Prime membership doesn’t come cheap, and if you aren’t tapping into all the perks that come along with it, it may not be worth it. For a while, my family only used our account for online ordering and I felt confused as to whether that was really worth the $119 annual membership fee. That’s when I did some digging and realized we could get a lot more bang for our buck if we tapped into the additional services that come with the yearly subscription. For instance, we canceled Netflix in favor of watching the already included Amazon Prime Video and have tapped into the free e-book resource they offer as well.
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