Amazon prime boxes and envelopes delivered to a front door of residential building
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I Stopped Shopping on Amazon and This Is What Happened

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Amazon prime boxes and envelopes delivered to a front door of residential building
Daria Nipot/istockphoto

Amazonaholic

It took some time to recognize it, but ... I’m an Amazonaholic. I had an addiction to clicking Buy Now in my spare moments. For many of us, the pandemic certainly exacerbated the tendency to go to Amazon for anything and everything to avoid leaving your house. In the beginning, this was both acceptable and understandable. But I realized that what started out as a necessity had become an extravagance when we recently sat down as a household and took a cold hard look at what was being purchased and why. 


Related: Insider Hacks and Secrets for Shopping on Amazon


Amazon Package
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Pandemic Purchases

When the pandemic first started, I jumped on the Amazon bandwagon. In a state of panic, along with most of America I desperately tried to click and buy everything you seemed to need to survive at home. Whether it was random snacks, cleaning products, or finding any kind of yard toy still available to keep the kids busy, I was turning to Amazon as a link to the outside world.


Related: Useless Things We Bought During the Pandemic


crayola
Amazon

State of Mind

When looking back in the purchase history from early in the pandemic, some of the repeat purchases from this time speak so much to a state of mind: toothpaste, handsoap, batteries, antibacterial cleaners were all somewhat reasonable buys. But then there was the overpriced sidewalk chalk and kids craft items, ice skates and an inflatable ice rink — did we even use those more than once? — a huge array of dog treats, and so, so many different types of masks. Also lounge clothing, of course!


Related: Pajamas, Sweats, and Leisure Wear Perfect for Working at Home


Amazon Packages
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Little Boxes All the Same

For as many months as I can remember, there’s been something from Amazon delivered at my home most days of the week. It got to the point (and I’m sure I’m not alone here) where I would see boxes out front, and have absolutely no clue what it was that I was waiting to arrive. In fact, a day without an Amazon box began to basically cause withdrawal symptoms. The thrill of ripping open a brown box and not quite remembering what was inside, became a form of entertainment and quite frankly a bit of a buzz.


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Jeff Bezos
Osman Orsal / Stringer / Getty Images News / Getty Images Europe / Getty Images CC

Goodbye, Bezos

Around the time that Jeff Bezos stepped down from Amazon and decided to blast himself into space, my husband and I had a frank financial discussion to see just how many of our dollars were being given to the conglomerate. We recognized that we were at a point in the pandemic where it not only wasn’t crucial to buy overpriced basics on Amazon, but doing so was wasting money and taking away from potentially more deserving local businesses. We crunched the numbers and the total broke me out into a cold sweat. At year to date, we had spent around $6,000 on Amazon. It was time to reassess things, hard core.

Dog tasty colored biscuits, snacks for dogs
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We Bought What?

We broke down the Amazon purchases into categories such as needs and wastes. Needs included reasonable items that made sense to buy on the site, such as relatively well-priced Amazon brand baby wipes. Wastes include random toys to keep the kids busy on a boring afternoon, clothes, or household storage items (a particular weakness of mine). We included books, as the library was now open and available for checkouts. Some items fell in between, such as dog treats (treating my pup is another weakness of mine). It turned out that unsurprisingly, the largest percentage of our purchases was indeed spent on wants over needs. A high percent of items were categorized as things we could now easily pop into the store to get, possibly for a much better price: vitamins, cleaning products, or snacks. 


Related: 30 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon

Time to Play Hardball
Amazon

Time to Play Hardball

We made a family decision then and there that before we clicked on Buy Now again, we would search to see where else we could find it and for how much less. No more mindless online shopping. Only shopping on Amazon with a real purpose and a real need. And if at all possible, absolutely no shopping on Amazon at all.

Amazon van making deliveries
Sundry Photography/istockphoto

Withdrawal

I never knew I could have a Pavlovian response to brown boxes. But in the absence of them, you have to think twice about what it is that Amazon has become in your life. For me, it had become a pandemic crutch, something to keep busy with, a game to see what random thing could pop into your head that you could have delivered the next day. Simply, not a healthy hobby at all.

Making home financial management simpler with modern technology
PeopleImages/istockphoto

Repeat Offenders

My husband and I set a weekly meeting time to see if there were any particular items we were thinking about getting that week that might normally be bought from Amazon. We did some work on figuring where else we could get these items. There were a couple of repeat-offender categories that could easily be fulfilled from retailers other than Amazon: dog items, household basics like hand soap, and foods. We assessed if other items were needed enough to buy anywhere, such as toys and extraneous vitamins. 


Related: 80 Things You Don't Need to Buy

Woman in disposable mask shopping groceries, buying milk
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Dollars Saved

Were we saving money by cutting Amazon? That is the biggest question. So we broke it down. The dog treats required a trip to Petco and were priced the same. The shelf-stable yogurt drinks did not need to be bought at Amazon and were in fact $3 cheaper at Target. The hand soaps were not necessarily more expensive at Amazon, but by picking them up at the local grocery store, at least we supported local business and weren’t wasting packaging.

Young woman making online payment while sitting in the living room on sofa
Youngoldman/istockphoto

Cheating

I admit it — I fell off the wagon a couple of times those first few weeks. I impulse bought more masks before a plane ride, only to find that they weren’t even as comfortable as some I already had. I clicked to buy gummy vitamins that I could’ve likely picked up at the drugstore for a few dollars less. I had to buy a kid birthday present, and clicked on Amazon rather than dealing with finding an actual toy store. But in general, I started to truly analyze what simply clicking and buying meant for our budget. 


Related: The Most Popular Items Our Readers Bought on Amazon During Prime Day


Weekends are for diving right in to the digital world
mapodile/istockphoto

No More Mindless Clicking

After a couple weeks I noticed a difference: I wasn’t mindlessly buying practically everything that came into my head that we seemed to need. The kids did not need some random object to amuse them the next day just because it was easy to get and was under 10 bucks. Because, as I was seeing from our spreadsheets, 10 bucks here and 10 bucks there adds up to way, way more. I also didn’t need that organizational item, or an extra toy for the dog just because it looks cute. I didn’t need to overnight a random household item that could just wait until the next shopping trip to the store. 


Background of cardboard boxes inside warehouse, logistic center. Warehouse filled with cardboard boxes. Mess in the warehouse, 3D illustration
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Environmental Impact

I began to think harder about the environmental repercussions of all those brown boxes. Ten brown boxes each containing one item turns a random Monday into Christmas, but even I was getting tired and feeling guilty for breaking down all the cardboard boxes over and over again.

Black woman walking the dog
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Everything in Moderation

After a month of my no-Amazon experiment, I realized that like everything else, Amazon is fine in moderation. Going forward, I will be avoiding grocery purchases from Amazon whenever possible. I will be more aware of pricing on pet items from competitors, before clicking to Amazon first just because it gets there fast. And I will definitely not be using Amazon shopping as a source of entertainment. I will take a walk or literally find anything else to do before deciding to click on something I think I need for fun. 

Currency.
artisteer/istockphoto

Lessons Learned

We did a comparison download of what was spent last year at this time on Amazon versus what was spent this year during the same time period. The difference was shocking. We spent one-sixth as much on Amazon by making a conscious effort not to use it unless it was absolutely the best option for something we truly needed. Will I keep avoiding Amazon as much as possible going forward? You bet. Amazon is the ultimate in convenience, no doubt. But ultimately, making the effort to get out of the house to buy something makes you realize how much you really don’t need it. 


Related: 31 Simple Ways to Save Money Every Day of the Month