Is Amazon Prime Worth It?

Do Amazon Prime Savings Really Matter?

My old friend Amazon Prime (AP) is up for renewal in about 90 days.  I am just not sure if Amazon Prime is worth the money I spend on it any longer.  We just do not see eye to eye on things anymore.  AP is always trying to suggest things for me to buy based on what I have already purchased and sometimes just because I looked at something similar in the past.  Is it time to call it quits and both of us move on?

I have a history with Amazon Prime that I cannot deny.  We used to do so many things together.  It was exciting to pick out items and AP would send it to me in a flash, for free!  Well not really free, but $79 divided out over all my purchases for the year sure seemed like a no brainer.

The Tax Man Cometh

Our relationship changed forever on September 15, 2012.  That was the day that Amazon started to charge sales tax for purchases in California.  Suddenly purchasing diapers in bulk each month was over 8% more expensive.  That made diapers cheaper at Costco when the $6 off coupon appeared about every 3 months.

Once the diapers shifted away, we started to drift apart.  I was no longer ordering gadgets and impulse items by that time anyway.  Getting married and having our first baby boy had already changed my outlook on spending, happiness, and what my time was really worth.

For some reason I justified keeping it last year at the higher $99 fee.  You would think that $20 increase would have been enough to make me cancel, but it wasn’t.  I am stubborn and figured it would still be worth it.  I used it a fair amount in 2014, but the feeling just wasn’t there anymore.  We have never really streamed movies (maybe a handful over the last 3 years), use the data storage, or any of the other add-ons that having the Prime account entitles us to use.   At this point we don’t even use Amazon Mom for baby/toddler supplies.

Amazon Prime Usage in 2014 and Previous Years

I just reviewed my account and see that I placed 29 orders in 2014.  However, it looks like only 21 real orders to me.  Amazon likes to separate things to get it to you faster, which is great, but it makes it look like I was doing a lot more purchasing than I really was doing.  I enjoyed that convenience, but less than I used to.

I grouped the spending and it looks like this:

Category Count of # Orders Sum of Total
Shopping 5 1,088.51
Kids/Baby Supplies 8 407.41
House Maintenance 4 149.24
Auto Maintenance 1 137.80
Home Supplies 1 55.56
Entertainment 2 44.03
Grand Total 21 1,882.55

I should note that $911.36 (or 84%) of the $1,088.51 spent in the shopping category was for a new Weber grill.  While I don’t want to buy things anymore, it was time for a new grill.  There is a quality difference you can feel when you lift the lid on the Webers versus store brands or cheaper models.  I could have bought something half as much, but part of my tax refund went towards it.  I have some buyer’s remorse, but think it will last 10+ years, so it will be worth it.

The Kids/Baby supplies category had the highest count with 8.  It was a baby mattress for kid #2, a couple of diaper orders (when there were coupons to be combined with the Subscribe and Save discount), and some seat protectors for the new car.  Speaking of the new car, the majority of the Auto Maintenance category was a reusable air filter and a bug shield for my new car (purchased in early 2014).

The House Maintenance was air filters and 2 different light bulb orders (part of my yearlong effort to transition to 100% LEDs).  The Home Supplies category was a deal that saved us a few bucks by offering a $10 discount to purchase things in that category.

In terms of usage, there are a couple of purchases that were not very successful.  In early 2014 I bought some photo paper and ink cartridges for about $62.  I barely printed any pictures and we hardly use of home printer.  Not a great one there.  Also, I bought an AC recharge kit for my wife’s car for $49.  It is still sitting in the garage unused.  I will try to get to it before we have the 4+ months with 100 degree or higher temperatures.  Most of the other purchases have been put to good use.

I will also add that there were only 3 orders from September to December and 2 of them were on an Amazon gift card (still have a $60 credit left to use in 2015).  I will probably use the credit for some bulk household goods before I lose access to the extra subscribe and save discounts.

I also briefly looked at my 2013 spending.  It shows 25 orders, but I only counted 22 distinct ones.  I see much more discretionary spending in that year, mostly around Christmas gifts.  I also see the water filters, air filters, and diapers.  I also see a video game, some books, and some other kitchen and electronic gadgets.

amazon prime expense usage

2012 was a bad year with 41 purchases.  I know most of those were diaper shipments and preparing for the first baby to arrive.  I didn’t look closely, but a lot of impulse buys were probably in there, too.

The chart does not really show my decline in interest, but it is there.  I try to avoid jumping online and looking for things to buy these days as I would rather continue to prepare for early retirement by contributing to retirement accounts.  I think I can get by without the membership as most of the orders for 2014 would have met the $35 free shipping threshold (just not maybe delivered as quickly).  Is Amazon Prime worth it or not?  Well when you compare how many orders would have already had free shipping, it is hard to say yes any longer.  The 1 purchase in 2015 was a $4 gardening book that I would not have purchased without the gift card credit still on the account (and not free shipping anyway).

Overall, is Amazon Prime Worth it or not?

I no longer believe that Amazon Prime is worth $99.  I think it is time for both of us to move on to new endeavors.  Who are we kidding, the shipping deal and no sales tax is what started the friendship anyways.  Amazon Prime changed for the worse and I think I changed for the better.  I just don’t have the need for a friend that tries to get me to buy so many things anymore.

AP can go ahead and focus on improving its algorithms on those that will still make an order (or more) a week.  I can focus on finding the best deal and just waiting for it to arrive to get free shipping or make sure the order is large enough for the free shipping threshold. This is not to say I will delete Amazon from my favorites list in my browser.  It just means I won’t click on the link as often.  I will probably still make a purchase every few months, resulting in maybe even 4-5 total purchases in a year.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

I wish you good luck in the future AP.  Farewell old friend.

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12 Responses

  1. Gabrielle says:

    I never was a fan of Amazon prime anyway. I’m a stay at home mom and I have all the time in the world to hunt for deals and free shipping, there’s no way I’m paying that much for it, especially now that I switched gears and staring buying a lot more from Ebay.

  2. Martin says:

    Even with all the free Kindle books and free shipping Amazon won’t be able to keep most of its memberships mostly because people aren’t buying that much from Amazon these days. Will AP plummet? Hell no but the 20 bucks extra are making a lot of people question if they really need it or not.

  3. Jack M. says:

    Guys, I kinda like AP and yeah, the new $99 fee pissed me off a bit, especially since it was such a huge jump after years of sticking to $79 but I don’t plan to cancel anytime soon. Last year I had more than 38 orders, from cleaning products to sweatshirts and a new TV. The two days shipping is the ONE feature that keeps me going, if they change this I’ll have to think about it.

    • vawt says:

      You sound like someone that still gets value from Amazon Prime. I was writing from my perspective, knowing that its a good product, just no longer a good value for me.

  4. Cathy says:

    I have Netflix and AP and they both have their benefits. Netflix is too good for words, I’m seriously thinking of ending my cable contract. With Prime I get a lot of free books that I’m now addicted to and free, quick shipping that I don’t imagine living without. Sticking with these two is a no-brainer, even if they up the price with a few bucks.

    • vawt says:

      Getting rid of cable could save most people $1,000 a year or more! I haven’t been able to cut the cord yet, but good luck if you try.

  5. Tawcan says:

    Great analysis, I never thought Amazon Prime was worth it for us, especially considering we don’t purchase that many items from Amazon.

  6. I recently had this debate as well. We had our baby registry on there and just had to bite the bullet to get what was left over at 15% discount (well 2/3ds of the leftovers were 15% off) and have had STACKS of Amazon boxes arriving with tons of baby crap.

    Having a baby due is what kept me with Amazon despite the annoying $20 increase. Had we not been pregnant, I would have cut ties and told them to pound sand. We will have to compare the diaper/wipes/etc. with Costco, but as long as Amazon stays cheaper we will probably stick with them. This was a great write-up, it seems that the value just isn’t there for you.

    • vawt says:

      It definitely was when the first baby arrived. Like you, we were getting boxes constantly full of baby gear. It just changed a bit over time as we didn’t need to order as much.

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