Archive for March 9th, 2014

Use Turbotax? If you do, and you are due a federal refund, you can put some of that refund towards Amazon gift cards and get a 5-10% bonus. Which begs the question, how much of our return should we put into gift cards?

While I’m usually not one to say no to free money, and we do use amazon frequently, I don’t want to tie up too much money into Amazon. Money spent on Amazon gift cards can not be used for useful things, like 529 plans. I want to find the sweet spot of maximizing the bonus, without overspending. It was once again time to take another peek at how much we’re spending on Amazon.

The amount (actual and project) I’ve spent on Amazon since 2009


The 2012 bump was anticipated. With a newborn baby I knew there would be many supplies we needed, and that we’d have limited time to go to the store. I figured between prime & camelcamelcamel most of my purchases would shift from brick and mortar type stores, like target, to amazon. I knew initially necessity would win out over frugality, and I’d find myself with many purchases that couldn’t wait. But I figured most of those purchases (crib, car seat, etc) would be single time purchases. As I became more experienced with this Mom thing, I was sure I’d be able to be better at predicting what we’d need and when so I could be more frugal about my purchases. So then what the heck happened in 2013?!

2013 Amazon Spending Breakdown.

By in large the bump in 2013 comes in part from additional subscribe & save discounts beyond just diapers. We started subscribing to all manor of paper towels, toilet paper, tissue paper, detergent, etc since it was both slightly cheaper and much more convenient. I was surprised how much all that added up! We spent 20 times more in 2013 than we did in 2012 on subscribe and save items. I was expecting the increase in incidental spending (toilet paper, toothpaste, etc) in 2013 to be offset by the reduction in baby gear spending, but that’s hard to do when you spend so much on incidentals! Yet another example where I paid attention to the individual prices and not the totals.

The next two categories are home related. “Basic household” are every day things we need but don’t regularly replace (fans, carbon monoxide testers, etc). I added up everything house related in this category. Alas, moving is expensive in more ways that one. There are some setup costs. New lights and new linens are sometimes necessary to fit new places. Some dishes and other odds and ends broke in the move. I did my best to maximize what we did have so we wouldn’t have to buy much. Our linens are very miss-matchy, but who cares? I didn’t want to buy a whole new set for the apartment, and then again when we move in a year or two. Admittedly not all the new purchases were necessities. I do love my new vacuum.

The Nicole category includes everything other than diapers – toys, books, Christmas presents, etc. Infants require tons of gear. We spent 6% less in this category in 2013 than in 2012. I expect we’ll continue to buy less in gear going forward, but make up the difference with toys and books.

If we ignore the Subscribe and Save purchases (since that wasn’t an apples to apples comparison), and the new home setup costs (how often am I going to buy a new vacuum cleaner anyway?!), I spent 31% less in 2013 than 2012 rather than 38% more. Phew. Now that’s a more palatable number!

Better, we don’t expect to see another rise in spending on Amazon in 2014. I did a crude estimate for our spending for 2014 based on our 2013 and current 2014 spending. It’s no surprise I spend more around Black Friday. Last year I spent 31% more on average in November and December than any other month. To come up with my projected total I use January & February’s expenditure and assumed a similar 31% rise for the end of the year. The result? We expect to spend about 3% less. Double Phew.