As busy working parents, my husband and I value our time. We know it’s important to shop around to compare prices for the best deal, but we would rather spend quality time doing something special together as a family than drive around town to shop for necessities. That’s why we rely heavily on the speed and ease of Amazon Prime.
With that said, it’s easy to go overboard when all you have to do is click the “buy” button. There have definitely been moments when my husband and I realized that Amazon Prime caused us to overspend on items we didn’t really need. So, while we didn’t stop using Amazon altogether, we decided certain steps had to be taken to address our out-of-control spending.
Step 1: Delete the App
I often found myself browsing Amazon while sitting on the couch, waiting for a doctor’s appointment or killing time before a flight to see if any of the items on 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 into checking out other products and making impulse purchases. I specifically found it way too easy to click on the app and automatically log in to my account.
So, I decided to delete the app from my phone, which ultimately helped remove the temptation to shop when feeling bored. Instead, I now download e-books on to my phone to keep myself busy when I have some downtime.
Read More: How This Budget Expert Quit Impulse Shopping
Step 2: Remove Payment Information
One of the benefits of Amazon Prime is one-click ordering. After your first purchase, the site automatically stores your credit card information and shipping address. Then, on future orders, you just have to choose “Buy now with 1-click,” and your order is automatically charged to that same credit card and shipped to your address.
As convenient as one-click ordering is, it also makes purchases far too easy. That’s why my hubby and I deleted our payment information completely. Now that we 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 Prime account.
Step 3: Track All Purchases
Although setting a budget is an important step to managing your spending, the only real way to stay in control of your finances is to watch each and every dollar you spend. That’s why we linked all of our debit and credit cards to Mint, a financial tracking app. We can better monitor where our money is going, and the app provides real-time notifications every time a purchase posts to one of our accounts, keeping us accountable. Plus, knowing that my husband can see how much I spend makes me much more careful about only buying 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 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.
Step 5: Don’t Feel Pressured to Use Every Amazon Prime Benefit
From the “Subscribe & Save” option to the wish list feature, Amazon Prime has so many great benefits — but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all. If you find that one of the benefits is causing you to overspend, you should rethink using it. For instance, I found it helpful to remove items from my wish list, because those products kept tempting me to buy them.
Step 6: 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 really 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 locate the best deals by finding recent price drops on products sold through Amazon, 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.
Discover: 23 Secret Ways to Save Money on Amazon
Is Amazon Prime Worth It?
At $119 a year, an Amazon Prime membership doesn’t come cheap. However, the value of a membership depends on the ways you use it — and how often.
If you’re primarily using your Amazon Prime membership to purchase everyday items without the hassle of going to the store in person, it makes sense. Likewise, if you’re tapping into all the benefits — like free e-books and Amazon Prime Video — without being suckered into buying additional things, a membership can be well worth it. In fact, we canceled our Netflix in favor of Amazon Prime Video. Depending on your Netflix plan, this could save you up nearly $75 a year by switching to only Amazon.
But, if you find that a Prime membership is causing you to spend more than you normally would, that’s another story. Getting addicted to clicking that “buy” button means it’s either time to rein in your spending, like we did, or cut ties completely.
Click through to find dumb expenses you need to slash from your budget.
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Erica Corbin contributed to the reporting of this article.