I flirted with Prime membership for years, occasionally getting a free month trial offer from Amazon, before finally biting the bullet and joining for real when I scored a less-expensive promotional first year of membership in 2015. Since then, I've renewed my membership when it comes due every year, because I'm hooked on the fast free shipping on nearly all items. Prime rose in price again recently, and will now cost you $139 a year to renew if you're an existing member.
As the cost of living goes up, everyone is trying to keep more money in their bank accounts. I'm no exception, so I strive to get the most use out of my Prime membership. One of the ways I do that is by always buying certain things from Amazon.
1. Non-perishable pantry staples
I was caught without a well-stocked pantry during the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when everyone was rushing out to buy supermarkets out of their non-perishable goods. Since then, I've made sure my own pantry is always well stocked with foods I eat often, along with those that are less common but often essential to certain recipes. Amazon is a great place to find pantry items like concentrated cooking stock (just add water), tea (especially loose-leaf varieties), hot sauces, snack foods, and chewing gum. All of these items have often been in short supply at my local grocery stores over the last two years, and being able to source them from Amazon means I don't waste time or gas (which has also been more expensive lately) trying to track them down in my city.
2. Bulk paper goods
Costco gets a lot of love, and my family always had a membership when I was growing up, but I currently live an hour away from the nearest location. So when I want to buy bulk paper goods like paper towels, toilet paper, and tissues, I turn to Amazon Prime. While it gives me the option to "Subscribe & Save," I prefer to pick things up as I need them, rather than relying on Amazon's scheduling options. They don't always match my usage. Plus, this way I get to see what the price is before clicking "add to cart." And then large packages of paper towels are delivered right to my door. Such convenience!
3. Hard-to-find personal care items
I've lived all over the United States, and it can be hard to get attached to a certain brand of soap or shampoo or sunblock, only to find out it's not available in stores in the area you've just moved to. This has happened to me more times than I can count, and thankfully Amazon Prime can usually help. Sometimes I can also score a deal by buying multipacks of my favorite personal care products, and since they won't go bad, I just keep my bathroom cabinets stocked.
4. Seasonal and replacement clothing items
Buying clothing and shoes online can sometimes be a gamble, especially if you're not quite sure of the size you need. But Amazon really shines when you need to replace a clothing item you already own but has worn out. I've bought my second (and third) pair of the same sneakers there, because I bought the first pair in a shoe store and already knew the right size to buy. I also look to Amazon for seasonal clothing items like fleece pajamas, bathrobes, and slippers. If you want to buy these in the spring or summer, you may be out of luck if you try your local department store, but on Amazon, they're available year-round.
If you're already an Amazon Prime member and are wondering how to get the best value for your ever-growing membership cost, take some time to consider what items you could purchase for less money and less hassle on Amazon. I'm intending to keep my membership for as long as it makes financial sense for me!
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We're firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon and Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.