When I was at the Makers Conference a few weeks ago, Wendy Clark, SVP of Coca-Cola’s “Global Sparkling Brand Center,” talked about how she managed the care of her 3 kids and her rather large job. She obviously had childcare during the week, but confessed that for a while she’d thought she should do all the random other kid things herself — like shopping for birthday presents. Her nanny offered to do it, but no! She was going to be involved!
Then, of course, she spent her weekends dragging her kids to stores, rather than doing something she would find more enjoyable.
The happy ending to this story is that she realized this was an activity that could be outsourced. But that’s not the only way to solve this problem. Indeed, there is a way to select birthday presents, if that matters to you, and still not have to spend your weekends in stores. That beautiful invention is known as Amazon Prime.
We are heavy users of Amazon Prime around my house, because this program — pay $79/year and get free 2-day shipping — almost completely removes the need to go to stores. This week, my 6-year-old needed a birthday present for this weekend. I had one in the gift closet that I thought would be good for this child, but my son disagreed with my selection. Thanks to Amazon Prime, this was No Big Deal. We just ordered something else. It showed up before the weekend. Without free 2-day shipping, we obviously still could have ordered something online, but overnight shipping fees many places would rival the price of the gift itself (always annoying). Without the extensive selection of Amazon at our disposal, we might have had to go to Target, which would have been a huge ordeal, or I just wouldn’t have taken him and we might have argued over the right present. I do like my kid to learn to think about what his friends might like. I find myself quite relaxed about many small errands and mental load things that might appear in my life precisely because of Amazon Prime. For instance, we are going to the Please Touch Museum’s Story Book Ball next weekend. We’re supposed to go dressed up as story book characters. I don’t exactly have a whole lot of literary costumes around the house. But as long as I remember we need costumes by Wednesday, I can order something online and it will show up on Friday. Problem solved. What life hack is making your life easier these days?
13 thoughts on “A love letter to Amazon Prime”
I love our AP membership too, but it will be interesting to see how it evolves. Especially with the recent predictions of price increases (http://money.cnn.com/2014/02/03/technology/amazon-prime-price/) – would that change your perspective? When does the price become a tipping point?
@Katie- it’s got a ways to go before it reaches the tipping point (not sure I should say that publicly!) A $40 increase would be paid for quite quickly in avoided trips. Plus, if I wind up at Target with my kids, we always wind up buying stuff we don’t need. Possibly even $40 worth!
I love the convenience of Amazon Prime, but I try to use it sparingly so I can support local businesses instead. I’ve sent awkward things through AP – like worms for my dad’s birthday, since he lives 3+ hours away. (He’s a gardener…)
@Liz- I like supporting local businesses too when I can, but I recognize that a lot of that is going to be service based (local lawn, cleaning, plumbers, accountants, restaurants, etc.) vs. goods.
A totall different kind of “life hack”: I am not a creative cook or menu planner, so I subscribed to a service. Every week I received 6 dinner menus that included recipes for the entrees, and a shopping list for the entire week of entrees and sides. (Why 6? They figure that one night a week you have pizza, go out, or just make a family favorite) Yes, I had to go to the store, pick out my own produce, meats, and brands, but my shopping time went from an hour to 30 minutes, and when I got home I didn’t wonder what to do with all this food I just bought. My meal prep went from a chore to simply a task, my family got a much more varied menu than “chicken or fish with the rice and peas” to quote my son, DH can make dinner if he’s home first, my grocery bill actually went down, and almost no wasted food. Totally changed my life.
@Nother Barb – that sounds smart. I’ve heard from a few people who use similar services (like Six O’Clock Scramble) — like anything, if you dislike a particular chore (e.g. meal planning) and/or dislike the time it takes, then it makes sense to get a service to help.
I’m signing up for a service that delivers both the recipes and groceries for 4 meals a week. I still like cooking, but think taking the planning & shopping out will be helpful. I should then be able to get the rest of the groceries via home delivery.
We don’t have it, but I drive by Target on the way home from DC1’s school every school day. Its sign reminds me that I need to merge left one more time so I can get into the turn lane. (And our gift closet is literally overflowing.)
If we need something soon, we generally need it before tomorrow, not in two days. In fact, it seems like everything we either need tomorrow or in more than a week.
Since we don’t have a car, Amazon Prime is an absolute lifesaver. I can’t say enough about how much more difficult our lives would be without Amazon Prime. We use local stores for specific things—pet supplies, hardware store, specialty art supplies, and for food & services. The things we buy on Amazon are the things we’d get from Target or another big box store, so for us, its not taking us from local businesses.
You can order pet supplies online too. We get dog food and medications delivered on a regular schedule, and it has made things MUCH easier.
Thanks for alerting me to that dress up thing at the Please Touch Museum. Nobody has a costume and I hate dress up anyway.
I don’t have Amazon Prime, but have recently decided I prefer (mostly) to shop for stuff by ordering it because of the time/lugging issue, and ‘most everything I need I can order either with free shipping (dog food from Fosters & Smith; lots of stuff through Amazon; houshold basics from Walmart) or cheap over ebay (clothes for DS). DH handles the vast majority of grocery shopping (and can be roped into taking DS to buy b’day presents), so with those, we’re close to covered. The local businesses we support include arts, book stores, and a fair amount of prepared food; all that sort of “shopping” is as much a social outing as a need for the stuff involved.
No other “hacks” spring to mind, though I’m pretty minimalist in a lot of areas (household cleaning springs to mind, as does food prep). I have decided I’m willing to pay more for semi-prepared food (e.g. cut up butternut squash from Trader Joes) rather than deal with that part of the prep myself, though I certainly don’t go overboard on that, and there are limits (prefab salads appeal, but my sense is that pretty much every e-coli outbreak’s been associated with them, so I mostly steer clear, and I buy and cook chickpeas, black-eyed peas, etc., in a crockpot rather than canned because of concerns about BPA, and so on).
I use diapers.com / soap.com / wag.com (there are about 10 “Familyhood” sites all linked together with one cart) the same way, but there’s no annual fee. Just order $49 to get free shipping and with 2-day delivery. It’s not that hard to get to $49 when you have small children, a dog, and a household to run.