A lot of people go on a diet at the start of the new year but we frugal types tend to go on diets of a different sort.
We go on a spending diet.
Backstory: I stared at my AMX statement, feeling vaguely queasy. How did this happen? Line after line after line of Amazon purchases pushing my budget to its very seams.
Now, do not get me wrong, I think Amazon is great, the best time saver ever and clearly by use and frequency, my favorite thing next to Baby Yoda but the fact remains, it had become far too easy for me to simply click and buy what I wanted. Note that I use the word ‘wanted’ not ‘needed’. No getting into the car, no wandering the aisles of crowded stores, no gas expense, no time wasted. But want is the key word here and the question is, did I really ‘need’ this stuff?
But I love Amazon.
However, I also had become far too dependent on Amazon. Night light? Don’t spend the time looking for the old one that somehow was misplaced during one of the recent renovations, buy a new one. Ping. Picture hooks? Aren’t there some in the garage somewhere? Never mind, swipe, click, bought. I found myself going over each small purchase realizing they sure added up.
Which is why I decided to put myself on an Amazon diet. For one full month, no buying on Amazon, no matter what and the results thus far are?
I am managing just fine without my favorite time saving shopping app, thank you very much. I still cruise the online offerings of Amazon when comparing costs but I don’t buy. Instead, I try and figure out, what do I already have that will do.
Case in point, my partner is basically obsessed with airplanes and has a few high-end model planes atop his dresser. We call it BBA, His name + A for airport. Very cute. But I realized he is missing a control tower and thought, what a cute gift that would make for Valentine’s Day. But the ones on line were really expensive and this was definitely a ‘want’ not a need. Fun and thoughtful as the idea was, it was something I certainly did not need to buy. I then decided I could take my grand kids plastic logs and build him one when I had a little time. Cost? Zero.
Same thing with a couple of grocery items like cocoa powder and rice cakes which turned out to be cheaper at the local discount grocery store anyway. I simply needed to wait until my next grocery run. Yup, I could feel my Amazon diet succeeding already.
What this exercise bought me, aside from a dramatic reduction in my AMX bill was more discipline in my buying habits. Now I ask first, do I really NEED this? Never mind that I can have it delivered, do I NEED this as opposed to merely wanting it? Once I answer that question, the rest is easy. And let’s be real, the vast majority of the time the answer has been WANT, not NEED.
The other benefit of the Amazon diet or any frugal financial diet for that matter is that when you think you ‘need’ something you automatically go straight to a no cost solution if you can think of one. I now ask myself:
1. If this is something I really want or even need, what do I have already that will suffice?
2. Is there a really low cost (i.e., the Dollar Store) solution?
3. Can I make it instead?
4. Is there another option/alternative that’s completely different but solves my need/want even so?
5. Can I put this purchase off for 30/60/90 days?
More than 95 percent of the time, I found my answer in 1-5 questions listed above. So, try it. Go on a spending diet for a month or longer and see if it doesn’t help you revamp your spending habits.