When we decided to buckle down and tackle our debt, I found several surprising Amazon Prime features that helped us save a ton of money. This is not a sponsored post, I just really happen to love Amazon Prime and all the ways it saves us money, and I thought I’d share with you. We’ve had a Prime membership for a long time, but I’m still learning about all the great features that go so far beyond free shipping!
Obviously it’s great that since we do order things online many times throughout the year, our membership pays for itself in saved shipping costs alone, but our membership actually saves us THOUSANDS of dollars every year in other ways. That’s not an exaggeration at all. Here are a few more ways it pays to be Prime:
We cancelled our cable.
Video streaming is a popular benefit for Prime members. Amazon has its own built-in streaming service for Prime members. You can watch straight from your computer, game console, or mobile device, or get a Firestick and hook it up to your tv. We ditched cable and now do our tv viewing primarily through Amazon and Netflix. I love that you can add additional channels to your Amazon account for a few dollars each month and basically create your own personalized a la carte deal. You can add whichever channels best meet your family’s needs. If you like watching Live sports, there are channels for that. If you want family-friendly programming or even an entire channel of Hallmark movies, they have that. And most come with a free week-long trial.
They have great original programming and some older classics our kids are learning to love, like Sabrina the Teenage Witch. We like that it is divided into age-appropriate categories for the kids. This is how it looks on the screen. It’s very easy to find a show and just click on it.
After we ditched cable, we added HBO, Starz, and Nick Hits (a Nickelodeon channel) to our Amazon account, plus CBS All Access which lets us keep up with a few shows we liked. Having CBS also keeps us updated on news, weather, and lots of live sporting events like the Super Bowl. If you don’t want CBS, there are lots of other networks to choose from.
I added the Starz channel to check out Outlander originally, and to be honest my plan was to binge that one show then cancel the channel after the free trial, but we kept it because I love that the Starz channel has so many great movies for the kids! They have a bunch of Disney movies and are great around the holidays. We’ve found that we still have access to all of the shows we like, but even after adding a few premium channels and upgrading our internet to account for the extra streaming, we still saved over $130 every month! That’s $1,300 every year. And I love that if we ever decide we need to pinch our pennies even tighter, I can easily cancel our premium channels and adjust our account myself with one click and save us that extra money without having to spend an hour on the phone with a cable company.
Look at all the Disney movies! (Ignore all the random stuff I throw on my wishlist, haha.)
We stopped Buying DVDs
We love that we can watch so many shows and movies for free (or I guess I should say they are “included” rather than free since we do have to pay for the membership). But sometimes we still have occasion to want something specific. Just like when we had cable, there are some movies that our kids love that are not included in our account. We do rent DVDs from the library, but our library charges a rental fee for movies anyway, plus I have to drive there. (If your library lets you borrow DVDs for free or stream them, definitely take advantage of that!) But with Amazon we can rent or buy the movie without even having to leave our house. Renting it is only a few dollars, but buying a movie through Amazon usually costs about $10, which is still only half the cost of buying a DVD at the store.
Movies we purchase are stored right in my account in the Video Library.
I was skeptical about going digital with our movie purchases at first, but we are finding that we really like having the movies we own stored in our Amazon account. We can access them from anywhere with wifi, like grandma’s house or an airport or the doctor’s office, and the kids can’t scratch or break the discs. (I can’t tell you how many times we ended up buying multiple copies of physical DVDs because someone stepped on a disc or the kids scratched it up and it would no longer play, etc.) No more of that. Plus storing them digitally takes up no space in our home. It’s hard to quantify, but because we are not buying duplicate discs to replace broken ones and the cost is usually slightly less up front for digital copies, I think this saves us at least $50-$100 every year. And as an added bonus, it’s been an easy way to make a small change during our decluttering journey towards minimalism.
We replaced our satellite radio and CDs
Did you know music streaming services are included in your Amazon membership for no extra cost? We used to have a subscription to satellite radio because my husband liked to listen to it at work and in the car, but have canceled it in favor of Amazon which allows us to save that money every month. I would also sometimes use the free version of other streaming apps like Pandora and just listen to the commercials. But then we learned we can stream for free through Amazon commercial-free, so now that’s the only thing we use.
You can create your own radio station out of your favorite artists, or listen to entire albums. I love Matchbox Twenty and there are four entire albums, plus a Rob Thomas album I can download through Amazon Music completely free with my membership. I was also bummed that I lost my Maroon 5 CD the last time we moved, but it turns out the entire Songs About Jane album is included as well. My favorite thing is being able to listen to the entire Hamilton soundtrack for free! I like streaming music when I work out, when I walk the dog, and when I’m relaxing in the bath at night. I love that I can create different stations for whatever mood I’m in.
There are lots of kid-appropriate options as well. We often hook our phones up to our car speakers and stream Kidz Bop stations in the car. The Amazon Music app will also give you options for clean or explicit versions, to help make the process more family friendly. I find that more and more I really prefer streaming over regular radio, especially when my kids are with me, because I can control the content. Cancelling satellite radio saved us about $16 per month, or a little less than $200 per year. Plus with streaming so readily available for free, we no longer purchase CDs for the car of children’s music, so this probably saves us even more.
We can borrow books
Sure, you can pay to upgrade to Kindle Unlimited and have access to even more resources, but did you know that even with just a basic Amazon Prime membership you are eligible to borrow one book every month for free? It’s included with the cost of your subscription. Just search “Kindle options free for prime members” and you will see several options that are available at no cost. You can also lend and borrow books through the kindle lending program. This is a great digital option for people who might not have the transportation or mobility to be able to get to a library each month. There are options for kids available as well. If you buy books frequently, using free Kindle books and borrowing through your Prime membership can easily save you at least $20 per month, or $240 every year.
Besides borrowing books, there are also a TON of books available on the Kindle app that are completely FREE for Prime members. You get to download and keep digital copies of them and it’s all included with the price of your Prime membership. $0.00 is my favorite price.
Digital Photo Storage
Did you know that your Amazon Prime Membership comes with 10 GB of photo and video storage for your personal use? You can save all the pictures and videos of your kids and family vacations and they’ll still be there waiting for you just in case your personal computer crashes. You could also just buy an inexpensive flash drive for less than $10 and do the same thing, so this doesn’t really save a ton of money, but it is a nice perk. If you feel like you need more storage space, there are options to upgrade for a fee.
Print Your Photos
You can print 4×9 photos directly from your account for less than ten cents each and get free delivery. There are also options for larger sizes and to create photo gifts like mugs, calendars, etc.
On Amazon Prime Day the company offers lots of great shopping deals exclusively for Prime members. They also have cool features like live concerts that are only available on Prime. This year on July 10th they are airing a Taylor Swift concert featuring several other performers, which is exclusive to Prime members.
Save on Groceries
We don’t shop at Whole Foods because the closest one is about 30 minutes away, but if you do there are discounts exclusively for Amazon Prime members. In some areas (not ours, unfortunately) Prime members receive free 2-hour grocery delivery from Whole Foods as well.
Give Back Box
I don’t think you have to be a Prime member to do this, I just think it’s cool. Amazon is partnered with Give Back Box, so when you are done with your Amazon box, you can fill it with gently used charitable donations, print a label at home, and ship it off to a variety of charities for free. It doesn’t cost you anything, it’s a great way to reuse shipping materials, and they handle all of the coordination with the various charities on their list. You just have to print out and tape the pre-paid shipping label to your box and mail it.
As a Prime member, you can share most of the benefits of your membership, such as streaming and free shipping, with other adults in your house. Unfortunately the family sharing does not apply to discounted memberships. There are also some things that are not included with family sharing, so be sure to check the fine print.
Discounts for students and low-income families
A standard Prime membership is about $120 per year. Honestly, considering we save more than that EVERY MONTH on our cable bill alone by using Prime, I think it’s totally worth every penny. But they recognize that their price point can be cost-prohibitive to some and offer several discounts that help many families get their memberships for up to 50% off. For example, if you are a college student, you are eligible for a discounted Amazon Prime Student membership. The cost is about $6.50 per month, or you can pay annually and bring the cost down to less than $5 per month. (Also check out Amazon’s text book rental and trade-in programs to save a ton of money on school books!)
If you have an EBT or Medicaid card, you are also eligible for a discounted membership. As of the time I’m writing this, the cost is slightly less than $6 per month.
So, is it worth it?
I would estimate that based on all of the ways we use it, these Amazon Prime features save us at least $2,000 every year. Remember, I didn’t even include the savings on shipping packages in this post and I’ve already showed you how it saves our family over $1,800 by replacing our cable, satellite radio, and letting us borrow books and stream shows and movies. If you add in the amount we save due to free shipping and discounts on shopping it would be even higher. That’s crazy! It is a great return on a $120 investment! (And I think we might actually be eligible for a discount that would make it even more affordable because children adopted through foster care receive Medicaid, although I haven’t tried to apply yet. Does anyone who fosters know if the discount applies if the eligible person is a minor living in your home?)
What do you think? Do you use Amazon Prime? Is it worth the price for your family?
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