Bye Now, Amazon
Looking for tips about how to save money on Amazon? The answer may surprise you (but probably not).
Over the summer, I stumbled into my fiancé's Amazon Prime account to watch a movie on Prime Video one night, not knowing this one click would change my shopping habits forever. Ironically, I was hopping on Amazon to dive into the material world of Crazy Rich Asians (and a slice of chocolate cake). As I landed on the home page amidst all the shiny, temping things, an alert came up to lure him back:
“John, you haven’t made an Amazon purchase for 3 months.”
As a devout Prime membership holder and serial “Buy Now” shopper, my first thought was, “How!?” Then, I was inspired by his will to survive without Amazon. What would it feel like to go 3 months without feeding the belly of the online beast? What would it feel like to stop buying from Amazon…forever? Is it possible? A life free of lightning deals, Daily Deals, Amazon Prime day, Subscribe and Save, or rush shipping?
For me, just thinking about the possibility made me feel free as a bird.
That night, I stopped buying things from Amazon. Years of highs and lows around habitual online spending, and yep, I just stopped.
There was no round of applause. I didn’t tell anyone about it (well, until now). I didn’t make a TikTok with a big reveal, not that I even know how to do that. I just stopped. And you can too!
Here are 3 steps to kick your online shopping habit to the curb:
Eliminate the temptation
First things first. If you’re like me and often “just check” Amazon for today's deals or price drops, it’s time to eliminate that temptation from your life.
While you’re building your new intentional spending muscles, make it harder—near impossible!—for yourself to shop online. Log out of your Amazon account so you have to be mindful about logging back in. Remove any saved credit cards or addresses. Set up two factor authentication, so when you do log in, it’s a huge pain in the keister, so you have to really want to shop.
Create a Wish Farm in your YNAB budget.
The moment I stepped out of the Amazon spending cycle, I started a Wish Farm in my YNAB budget. Don’t get me wrong. I love shopping, and I still do it. I just take more time to determine what I really want in my life, then I squirrel away money for it in my Wish Farm.
My Wish Farm is labeled with a little farmer emoji to remind me that this is a category for planting seeds and watching them grow. The concept is simple: Create a list of the things you need or would love in your YNAB Wish Farm. Send your spare dollars there and prioritize your spending around funding those babies, because they matter to you! Once you’ve funded an item you’re excited about purchasing, you get to buy it…with zero guilt.
Keep coming back to your Why.
With my wedding fast approaching, one question on my mind is, “How do I show up as a better financial sidekick for my partner?” My fiancé is frugal and intentional about his spending decisions, which I’ve always admired (because historically, I am…not). When I practice more of a balance in my spending too, we can achieve amazing financial goals together. This is the Why that keeps me from hitting “Buy Now.”
Whether you are flying solo on your budgeting journey or using YNAB Together, determine the reason you want to be more mindful of online spending and how it would benefit you in the long run. In those moments of temptation, think of your Why. Remember it before you spend it.
Now for the fun part. Yes, I did save money, but incredible things started happening when I stopped buying things from Amazon. I didn’t necessarily expect there would be so many benefits of tightening my reins around online shopping, but the fallout makes me want to sing like a Disney princess.
Here’s what happened when I stopped buying things from Amazon:
We saved a bundle toward our house downpayment.
When I say saved, I mean wowza, we really saved. In 3 months of not spending on Amazon and being generally more mindful of buying needs versus wants, we’ve saved $7,256 more toward our house downpayment. We accomplished this by moving money out of the categories that tempted me to “fill up” on impulse buys, like “Home Decor” and “Furniture.” Those categories were created because we did a redecorating project last year, but I’ve continued to send dollars there to, ahem, justify my online shopping habit.
This was a huge aha for me: Just because the category exists in your budget doesn’t mean you have to keep funding it.
In YNAB, you can easily hide categories you don’t need right now and channel that money into what brings you joy. This small action helps you keep tabs on your current priorities. For us, that’s becoming homeowners. Do the categories you have in your budget right now reflect your deepest desires? If so, you’ll love the way you spend your money.
Our house became less cluttered.
One of the reasons Amazon seduces me is because I don’t like running out of things. Discontinuing my online purchases has made me realize what an incredible amount of back stock of household items we already have. Now, John and I are scrappy! We scrounge! We use what we have on hand before we buy something new.
Instead of buying a 3-pack of shampoo online, I started going through the 25 travel size bottles I have from my various hotel stays. Rather than clicking an Amazon ad for a beautifully-branded counter cleaner, I got down on my knees and looked way behind the front row of cleaners under my sink. Sure enough, we already had two more bottles.
The result of looking before spending? A less cluttered home and less spending on new stuff we didn’t truly need. Take that, click bait!
These are just two examples of how it’s usually possible to improvise for a long time without replacing a product. Why it took me so many years of adulthood to reach this conclusion…wish I knew. But as YNABers, we don’t look back. We embrace the learning, Roll With the Punches, and move forward as better budgeters!
I learned how to fix what was broken instead of buying something new.
Along the lines of using what we have on hand, I also channeled my grandfather and fixed what was broken. My grandpa was the ultimate handyman and had the thriftiest mindset of anyone I’ve ever met. He believed that everything should be used to its full potential before being replaced, which meant learning to fix broken things. That’s never been my forté, but did you know there’s a YouTube video about fixing pretty much anything? Unlimited life hacks there.
Fixing old stuff instead of buying new stuff has saved us $825. It removed the need for a new blender, watch, and cabinet altogether. Plus, I know how to use a drill now, and that feels pretty Lara Croft Tomb Raider to me.
I supported more local artists and shops more often.
Most of the things I purchased on Amazon have a local equivalent that’s far more unique, or even a better price. I love supporting local vendors, artists, and farmers. Why buy coffee from Amazon when you can get a better-quality bean locally and know right where it comes from? Why buy a holiday gift from a random retailer if you can find the same thing with higher quality materials and a sweet story behind it from a local artist?
Perhaps your new set of dishes could come from a local ceramic shop. Or a new tool could come from a hardware store owned by an adorable local elderly man in overalls. When you truly need something new, it feels good to put that money into your community instead of into the mouth of the retail giant. This was an unexpected perk that felt really good to uncover.
I found better steals and deals.
Part of my Amazon spiral was the mere convenience of it. Here’s what I found since I stopped looking there first: It’s not always the best deal. When I determine I really need something in my life, I shop around for the best value, thrift a gently-used version, or buy it directly from the maker.
Here’s the thing about online shopping: The retail beasts of the interwebs want you to spend! Making it so seamlessly easy to shop online isn’t a personal favor to you. They make it easy because they want your money. Plain and simple.
Aside from all the benefits above, cutting out Amazon from my life has made me feel like I’m free of online mind control. I’m in the driver’s seat of my spending by forcing myself to be more intentional. It’s YNAB’s Rule One in practice: I’m giving every dollar a job, and making sure those jobs bring me joy and utility right now.
If the idea of cutting out online shopping feels like climbing Mount Everest, it might be helpful to do a mindset reset. YNAB’s free 30-day More Money Challenge was a game-changer for me. It gave me clarity around my spending habits, made me feel less alone in my Amazon battle, and helped me save money fast. It’s a positive space for change that anyone can start today.
So go ahead—slay the online shopping dragon. Show them who's boss of your life by making an active decision not to cave into an impulse purchase. If this serial shopper can do it, you definitely can.
If you’re new to budgeting, YNAB can help! Our Four Rules act as a decision-making framework for spending and the app is the perfect tool to help you save money, eliminate pesky debt payments, and finally feel in control of your finances. There’s no credit card required to try it on for size, so sign up now!