Is Amazon Prime Worth it’s Cost?

Jul 31, 2008 @ 08:39 am by EMS

I received an email last week notifying me that my Amazon.com Prime Account would expire at the end of August.  For those of you who don’t know, Amazon Prime is a yearly subscription service that costs about $80 and entitles you to free 2-Day shipping on many (I hesitate to say most) of their items.

Before renewing for 2008-09, I did a little research on my own Amazon spending over the past 11 months.

  • Past 11 month spending at Amazon: $2,489
  • Previous 11 month spending at Amazon (before signing up with Amazon Prime): $959

These numbers had me a bit worried at first, because I had more than doubled the amount that I had spent at Amazon.  Was Amazon Prime making me a frivolous shopper?

I went back to look at the numbers and realized that close to 50% of my Amazon spending was due to a much needed computer upgrade.  Costs reflected in that one purchase amounted to over $1,000, which made the total Amazon spending over the past 11 months a bit more palatable.

I looked at how much I saved using Amazon.  Since Amazon isn’t charging state sales tax, I saved 6% off of the purchases right off the top ($149).  Purchasing the items online without paying for shipping also saved me a bit of gas money, but this number is a bit more difficult to quantify.  Also, being able to purchase items online without worrying about shipping time saves a ton of personal time for me.  If I realize I need to get something, I’ll check Amazon first.  If I can get free shipping and the price is comparable to what I would pay locally, I’ll generally go with the purchase from Amazon as long as it’s not an immediate-need item.  This was a big plus during the holiday season, and I suspect we purchased close to 50% of our holiday gifts from Amazon this year.

So am I going to renew?  Yes.  Am I going to spend as much at Amazon this year as I did last?  I hope not.

Pros & Cons of the 4 10 Hour Workday.

Jul 10, 2008 @ 07:05 am by EMS

This summer, my employer has given us the option to work four ten hour work days (as opposed to five eight hour days).  I was one of the surprising few who took them up on the offer and being that it’s my third week doing this, I figured I’d write up some of my thoughts on the change.

Pros:

  • By far, the biggest pro for me is the fact that I can save over $70 a week in childcare.  Just over the course of the summer, this should add up to close to $1,000 saved.
  • Having a three day weekend is nice, it means we can visit with friends/relatives longer and not have to take multiple trips to do so.
  • More family time: I’m able to spend more time with the kids, and while this can be stressing at times, I know the kids enjoy it.
  • Having 1.5 to 2 hours at work when a lot of coworkers aren’t here allows me to get some work done in peace.  A lot of my writing, catching up on stuff occurs during this time.  Overall, I’d say that I’m more productive working this schedule.

Cons:

  • Those ten-hour days can seem looooong at times.
  • Getting up one hour earlier (especially for someone who values his sleep as much as I do).
  • Not having as much time in the evening four days a week.  For me, this has been a big con, as I’ve lost a significant amount of time that I used to use for running on the treadmill, small projects around the house, etc…  I obviously try to make up for it on my extra day at home, but you can only run on the treadmill so many times a day.
  • It’s a tough adjustment.  The first week that I did this, I was getting bad headaches every morning starting at 10:00.  I’m pretty sure it was due to the adjustment in my sleep schedule.  I’m still adjusting, but now I’m finding it easier.

Ironically, the company started this policy as an attempt to lower fuel costs to employees.  For me, it’s probably going to have the opposite affect.  When I started this schedule, I gave up my chance to carpool, so I’m not driving any more or less times to work (When carpooling, I drove 8 times every 2 weeks, now I’m doing the same, just working longer hours).  So unless the car stays in the garage on my extra day off, I’m driving more miles overall.

June 2008 Net Worth Report (-5,069)

Jul 03, 2008 @ 08:55 am by EMS

Net worth wise, June 2008 was a big disappointment.   The market continued its decline, accounting for over $6,000 in losses for us.  We also took a $945 depreciation hit on our vehicles.  Six months into 2008, and our net worth is officially lower than what it was when the year started.

The one positive (and it’s a big one) is that our cash flow is positive for the first time in three months.  We’ve done a good job of containing our costs this month by taking steps to eat out less, carpool, decrease child care costs when possible, and just overall being more thrifty.  The next several months should continue having positive cash flows, but we are at the mercy of the market it seems.

Net Worth June 2008



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