Add e-commerce to the list of vices we can't do without. A survey from advertising agency Max Borges reveals a huge portion of millennials, if given a choice, would pick Amazon over having sex (44%) or drinking alcohol (77%), meaning Jeff Bezos can now credibly claim to have crushed two of humanity's greatest sources of pleasure.
"We used to just look at how frequently people looked at Facebook and Instagram and other forms of social media," said Lindsay Stuart, vice president of Business Intelligence with Max Borges Agency. "Now Amazon shopping has become just as frequent in people's day-to-day life. The fact that we see people driving to work and buying on Amazon while they are in traffic is indicative of that."
Amazon's ability to take over our lives—to the point where we prefer it over meeting basic biological needs or consuming addictive substances—means we also need to click carefully if we want to avoid out-of-control spending that could derail our financial plans.
How much do you love Amazon?
Playing hard to get has never been Amazon’s strategy to woo customers. Its outsized digital presence and ease of use are, in fact, part of its appeal. A majority of the 1,000 survey respondents (ages 18 to 34) report waking up in the middle of the night to shop in the wee hours of the morning, with the office close behind as the second-most popular place for millennials to do their e-commerce shopping. More disturbing (if not surprising) is the fact that nearly half of millennials shop Amazon while using the bathroom.
Where millennials are when shopping on Amazon
|Awake in the middle of the night||61%|
|Using the bathroom||47%|
|Sitting in traffic||23%|
More important than where people shop for Amazon is what they're buying. Sixty-one percent purchased some sort of consumer electronic on the site in the past year, and nearly as many (60%) bought either clothing, shoes or jewelry during the same time period. While the price gap between a cheap pair of earbuds and a Playstation 4 is fairly large, these purchase categories tend to contain a lot of high-priced items that can quickly drain your bank account if you aren't careful.
What people are buying on Amazon
|Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry||60%|
|Beauty & Health||50%|
|Toys, Kids & Baby||43%|
|Books & Audible||41%|
|Home, Garden & Tools||31%|
|Sports & Outdoors||29%|
Don't let Amazon become a toxic influence
Amazon may have successfully taken a hold of our hearts, but you can take some steps to ensure you're shopping responsibly. Americans racked up $1,054 in holiday debt last year, according to a report by LendingTree, and Amazon features like one-click shopping help you reach (or surpass) that number with frightening speed.
Go in with a plan: Building a budget and sticking to it remains the most tedious and well-worn piece of advice around, but it's also the one action that will save you the most money. It's too easy to justify a purchase you really can't afford when it’s 3 a.m., so take your feelings out of the equation. Each week look at what you can afford to spend on entertainment and set aside a portion of that for Amazon shopping. Treat that number like it was handed down from on high and never exceed the limit you set for yourself.
Skip the credit: A more extreme action to take would be deleting any credit card information from your account and instead link your payment to a debit card filled with enough money to make responsible purchases, but not enough so you spend this month's rent on a fancy tea infuser. You will lose out on the benefits of using a credit card, especially if you have one of the better cards available, but no bonus miles or cashback reward is worth unplanned debt.
Take your time: We get it, buying things is fun. But before you complete that order, put the phone down for 5 minutes even if you're certain it's a necessary purchase. You'd be surprised how even a few minutes of doing something else can change your perspective and how many of those "must-have" purchases can wait for another day.