Personal finance disclosure: Sometimes I screw up. WHAT?! SHOCKING?! This finance goddess before you actually doesn’t always have it together when it comes to her wallet? Sadly, it’s true. There are days I check my bank account and see a charge I’ve completely forgotten was coming my way and hence didn’t appropriately factor into my budget. This month, that charge was $79 for Amazon Prime. (Update: the cost in 2016 is now $99 and is updated in the rest of this post).
I sense some of you may be even more surprised I actually spend $99 a year to use Amazon Prime and even dare suggest it as a “Frugal Find.” Like a desperate actress on a bad infomercial, I can tell you Amazon Prime comes to you at the bargain value of just $8.25 a month! Ladies and Gents, that’s less than Hulu Plus or Netflix! Amazon also has a sneaky way of hooking us unsuspecting frugalistas.
(Good thing this happened in the 70s before everyone got sue happy.)
With the use of a college email address, you can sign up for Amazon Student and get six months free.
The Prime membership is a worthwhile expense for me because I do a lot of shopping via Amazon. With Prime you get free, two-day shipping on select (and select is a lot) items. When I first signed up I figured if I usually spent around $6 on shipping then it would only take 13 purchases on Amazon for Amazon Prime to pay for itself. I probably making 13 purchases around Christmas time alone. I also tend to buy bath products in bulk on Amazon because I don’t have easy access to a Sam’s Club or Costco. My roommate uses Amazon Prime to buy cereal because Cheerios can run you more than $5 per regular size box here in the Big Apple.
(Come on, it really can’t be that expensive to “import” Cheerios to our island!)
To top it all off, Amazon Prime membership (affiliate link) gives you access to streaming TV shows and movies. As a “cord-cutter” it’s nice to expand my access to TV beyond Netflix and Hulu. Bookworms can take advantage of the Kindle Owner’s Library.
(Leslie Knope being the example of instant streaming would’ve been enough for me to renew my membership.)
For all you nay-sayers out there who think having Amazon Prime will just increase your general spending from surfing the shop, then you just need to work on your self-control! If you rarely shop on Amazon, have cable and access to a Sam’s Club or Costco type store then perhaps Amazon Prime isn’t for you. If you’re cheap, cut cable and can’t effectively carry a haul of bulk items on the subway then consider shelling out the $99. Oh, and they haven’t price hiked in the past two years, which is more than I can say for my internet provider (or landlord).
32 responses to “Frugal Find: Amazon Prime”
I signed up for it this year and love it for the streaming options alone. However, I don’t buy a lot from Amazon (or in general) so I’m not sure if I’ll keep it next year or not. But I really love that they have a better selection than Netflix so I might. I have until January to decide!
Sadly, I didn’t even really into the streaming options until about two months ago. One of my favorite shows, Justified, is available on Amazon Prime. I signed up for the shipping, but streaming would keep me hooked.
I’m a big believer in Amazon Prime. They got me hooked through “Amazon Mom” (a full year free to buy diapers – go figure) and I’ve been with them ever since. They’re smart marketers; they know once you get free shipping and unlimited streaming, it’s impossible to let it go. Even for $79.
Oh man, Amazon Mom sounds like a great hook!
I’ve had Amazon Prime for years now and I still love it. One thing to watch out for though, the student memberships didn’t used to have access to streaming video. Not sure if that’s changed or not though.
Also, you can share the free two-day shipping with up to 4-5 ‘family members’. Get a few people to chip in ten bucks and you can all have the shipping benefits for super cheap.
The free “trial” Student Prime doesn’t have streaming but the paid ($39) version does.
I’m sad that Amazon finally figured out I’m not a student anymore. 🙁
I need to see if a few friends would want to go in on it then! That’s a great tip.
I’m not a Prime member, only because the majority of my purchases are ebooks. Otherwise, I try to wait to make purchases until I can take advantage of their free shipping promo (and obviously have no rush since it can take up to 10 days to get the goods!). I still have cable because Verizon Fios offered me a great bundle deal but if I eventually cut the cord, Prime would be a lead contender because it has a lot of nice advantages.
It’s nice you have access to Verizon Fios. Time Warner monopolizes most apartment buildings in New York, but I’m luck to have access to RCN instead. If you do cut the cord definitely consider Amazon Prime.
I’m a big Amazon Prime fan. I order a lot of stuff from them on the subscribe and save plan, and I’ve done my Christmas shopping almost exclusively through them the last few years.
Also, as Bob pointed out above, you can share the plan with people who live in the same house, so H and I share mine and he pays me for half of it. So I get all the benefits for $40 a year. 🙂
Yeah, I really need to see if I can get a few friends to chip in on it, or maybe have my sister go in on it with me. I think the access to credit card info would make some people nervous though. Perhaps I just trust my sister….
No, no, no, they won’t have access to your credit card info! I share with 4 people who don’t live in my house. (Shhhhh, don’t tell! I just pretend they’re “family,” and Amazon is none the wiser.) You put in the person’s email address, relationship to you, and name. Amazon sends them an invite to your Prime membership. Voila! They have access to the shipping perk, but they don’t have access to the streaming option. They definitely don’t have any access to your personal information! So no worries on that one. 🙂
Okay good! So they’re all on different accounts/browsers? I’ve had people just willingly hand over credit card info to me and ask to buy them something off Prime. They’re lucky I’m not looking to make a quick buck because Amazon loves to remember all that information. I’ve just gone in and deleted it out right away just to make sure I don’t accidentally charge them in the future.
Yeah, Amazon basically just adds your Prime membership (the shipping benefit anyway) to their Amazon account (with their credit card information, etc). After writing my comment yesterday, I logged into my mom’s Amazon to find out exactly what she could see of my Prime membership. It doesn’t show her anything at all. Lol, actually, it just advertises the fact that if she got her own Prime membership she’d have access to streaming. So they can’t see when the Prime membership expires or anything. I’m actually glad you brought this up since I had no idea what information was visible. I had just assumed they didn’t share anything personal. Now I know!
Great post! I completely live off Prime. I’ve never paid for Netflix or Hulu, but Prime has me hooked. And yes I am generally an Amazon addict as well. They should have Amazon Anonymous meetings.
Prime is just makes it so easy to do your shopping, especially in New York. I need to get into the streaming options a bit more. I do like Hulu for keeping up-to-date with shows.
We’ll be getting netflix when we cut the cord, but amazon prime is definitely an interesting option. I don’t think I’d get as much use out of it for non-TV things (love me some costco!), but it’s still a great value.
It would probably be worth it just for the streaming and Kindle library (if you have one). Plus it would be nice for the occasional thing you need to buy via Amazon.
I love Amazon Prime. 🙂
I know ya do! Linked back to you in the Amazon Student reference.
I have Netflix; I actually don’t know a lot about Prime. As a Canadian I’d be interested in having access to more than Netflix can provide (the Canadian Netflix is like 1/3 of the US Netflix)
I want to say they’re planning to expand the program in Canada soon, but they don’t offer the Instant Streaming yet. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57562753-93/amazon-prime-lands-in-canada/.
I love Amazon Prime! I use it for all the great perks you mentioned here (no Kindle but I downloaded the Kindle browser reader), but I recently added up the number of Amazon purchases I made within the first year of my Prime membership. My shipping cost per package came out to 64 cents each! Woo! And I’ve bought some hefty items on Amazon, including a large leather ottoman. Shipping for that puppy would have cost an arm and a leg through anyone else.
And that shipping per package price doesn’t include the other four people who are on my membership and have had things shipped to them too. I don’t see how Amazon makes money on Amazon Prime memberships, to be honest. (Though I am buying less since starting my savings goal. I’m going to try to step up my Amazon grocery shopping.)
Don’t forget to find 4 people to share your membership! Their packages can go to different addresses, and they won’t be able to access or see any of your account information. So no privacy concerns. Divided by 5, that’s a cost of $15.80 for a year of Amazon Prime… Can’t beat that!
I really need to shop around to find people to share my Prime account. Although my Dad and sister like to hack in to stream shows…so they probably wouldn’t be willing to fork over money for a non-streaming options. I’ll have to ask my NYC friends!
I’d totally sign up for Amazon Prime as well if I shopped. For some reason, I kinda completely stopped buying stuff about 8 years ago. Maybe it was b/c of California raising sales taxes or something. But essentially, I went on strike.
Hope the summer is treating you well!
That’s quite a streak of no shopping. I thought my only about once a year trend was pretty impressive.
Summer is going well now that our NYC heat wave is over. It was a rough week to be without AC, but I’m still in support of my crazy money-saving habit.
Believe it or not I just cancelled my free trial membership of Prime last night! Honestly it’s probably worth it, but I haven’t taken the plunge quite yet. I might look into it again when life is less crazy, but for now I will have to wait a week if I want my free shipping.
We would definitely consider Amazon Prime once the debt is paid off. We do enough shopping there there it would likely be worth the price. That being said, memberships in general freak me out – I just don’t like that monetary commitment. 🙂
OMG, I love the Cornballer picture! What a great episode!!
Regarding Prime, we dropped it. With the 25$/free shipping deal, I’m OK with waiting a bit longer for my purchases.
I split mine… Takes a little sting out of the $80 a year
Oh, also, I use subscribe and save to save an additional 15%. I also wait for big sales. There was a period of time when I was at under $0.25 per bowl for cereal and almond milk (because I’m a monster who measures that way…God, what has my life become…)
I did the free month, and really enjoyed Prime, but didn’t feel that I would order enough stuff to justify it for the yearly fee. I might change my mind at Christmas though. We tend to mail most of our Christmas gifts, so that might make it worthwhile, especially since we just cancelled our satellite TV. Thanks for the mention.