What I Learned From My “No Shopping on Amazon” Quarter

Financial Gym client Jolevette Mitchell is an attorney, licensed in New York and New Jersey, living in Brooklyn who loves playing piano and is on her way to financial freedom!

Jolevette Mitchell

Jolevette Mitchell

I recently read a post on The Penny Hoarder financial blog about a blogger who canceled her Amazon Prime membership. As I read it, I thought to myself, “Wow, I spend like crazy on Prime, too! I especially like the free and fast shipping! But wait…did she have to go through all of that? Couldn’t she have just changed her habits?” 

It made me think about the challenge my Financial Trainer, Jaqueline, gave me for the third quarter (July-September) — to refrain from shopping on Amazon Prime. She only allotted for one purchase in September, which meant I had to be very wise. I thought it would be difficult but, to my own surprise, I did better – I didn’t purchase a single item from Amazon this quarter and let me tell you, it freed up a lot of cash for more important things.

The aforementioned blog post explained the ups and downs of canceling, returning to Amazon Prime, using trial runs to avoid yearly fees, and the avoided trips to brick and mortar stores. In my opinion, it is a one-time yearly fee; the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is not forcing you to make impulsive buys from Prime. 

My challenge this quarter taught me that. 

Exploring my community

My challenge also forced me out into the world to explore different avenues of making purchases that were sometimes even cheaper than Amazon’s prices.  

I used to rush to Amazon Prime to buy books, office supplies, clothes, and anything that I thought I needed. But, when the challenge began in July and I needed a few things, it pushed me to go to physical stores, and not only find more affordable options, but also discover my community. 

Notably, I visited a small mall in Brooklyn that I previously wouldn’t have gone to because it’s on the other side of town and in a neighborhood that I wasn’t comfortable going to often. The mall used to only be comprised of a Target, Bed, Bath, and Beyond (“BBB”), and a Home Depot. So, I was surprised when I pulled into the parking lot and saw several mainstream stores, such as Gap Outlet and Banana Republic. This part of Brooklyn that I once saw as scary had grown and is thriving. I was amazed, and I never would have discovered this shopping online. 

In addition to the shopping center, I found myself driving past community block parties, local craft fairs, and small flower shops. I found everything I needed and was able to get major discounts, too. 

Hunting for discounts at retail stores

For example, I wanted a Keurig machine, which was priced on Amazon for $167, and I found the same machine at Kohl’s for $57 with the use of two coupons. I also wanted a Herschel backpack. Amazon had one for $60, but I purchased one from Nordstrom Rack for $38. 

I also went further to visit other shopping areas, all with new stores, gyms, and hubs for community engagement. I rediscovered Barnes and Noble, where you can literally read half the book in the store before deciding if you really want it. 

My challenge took me out from behind my computer screen and into my neighborhood, and my community. It also opened me up to couponing for savings, which is a lot of fun, especially when done with family and friends. Plus, I realized I did not need everything that I thought I did.

Developing new habits  

Will I give up my Prime membership? Not yet. I enjoy the streaming services far too much (Netflix does not have Downton Abbey or Boston Legal); I get free books for the Kindle app; and, at some point, it may come in handy around the holidays. Will I think twice before I run to Amazon.com to order a product? I most certainly will, and I have been doing so for the past three months.

I recently read a book called, “The Latte Factor” by David Bach. A quote that sticks out the most says, “The solution to your money problems isn’t more money; it’s new habits.” 

You have all the money you need right now. It is up to you to decide whether you want to change your habits to achieve the financial goals that you want.

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