Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Little indulgences

I got to wondering when my Amazon Prime subscription would expire, so I looked it up.

It expires today. If I do nothing, it charges me $79 but gives me another year of free two-day shipping.

I briefly considered hitting the "do not renew" button - after all, it's $79 - but then I changed my mind.

Because Amazon Prime is one of the little things that makes my life better. Even when gas spiked up to $4 a gallon here and I was driving even less than I do now, I could still get the books I wanted. When I hear about a book I want to read (the most recent suggestion coming from Kate P. - "Why Manners Matter") I can have it in two days.

Because I live in the land of (essentially) no bookstores, and a very limited library (yes, even the campus library. They've been chronically underfunded and though they do a good job of covering the "basics," the kind of fun want-it-now books I like to read don't tend to be in their collection).

And there's something comforting about it to me - being able to get a book I want on short notice. Or a dvd. Or a CD. (I'm not sure if Prime extends to other of Amazon's items, but I swan if I have to deal with roving bands of 14 year olds in the wal-mart again, I will look at their "grocery" option, at least for stuff like canned goods*). I can get something from them usually FASTER than I can find the couple-hours free to drive to the next biggest town (1/2 hour away) and search their Books a Million (and if it's a mystery novel or a literary novel, and it's been more than a year since publication and it's not a best-seller, good luck on finding it.)

(*Hey presto, for at least some items, they DO. So if I really go the hermit route - to avoid the burgeoning population of rude special snowflakes - I can at least get steel-cut oatmeal and dried cherries sent to me)

(And I will admit - at times - when there's something I've been wanting for a while and not bought, I will often decide to buy it and time its arrival so it will come after what I foresee being a particularly tough day. A little bit of self-care).

I don't know. I keep feeling like I have to justify the expense, especially in this new world of "Why don't you tell the American people they have to SUFFER more?" (which is apparently one of the complaints leveled at Obama's speech last night. Which I did not watch).

But you know? It's like $7 a month. If I order two things in a month, I've covered my costs right there. (And I've also found I can use it to send gifts to people on the cheap as well). But it's more than the cost savings - it's that feeling of knowing I can get something, fast, when I want it, without the effort of driving an hour's round trip (and dealing with the decidedly mixed bag of clerks at the Books A Million - several of them are wonderful (and in fact there's one guy a bit younger than me who always flirts with me a little when I go in), but there are also some of the "typical" eye-rolly, never-grew-up types)

I tend to be very frugal about a lot of things - as I said yesterday, I'm the light turner-offer in my department (and also at home), I rejoice over finding a new lentil recipe because I can buy lentils for less than a buck a pound (well, it helps that I LIKE lentils as well), I rarely buy clothes except to replace something that wears out. But there are other things that I'm willing to spend my hard earned money on.

Amazon Prime is one of those things. Another is spending the money for "good" chocolate - I was happy to find when the Walgreens opened up here that they carry Green and Black's chocolate and a few other of the more "premium" brands. And tea. I have many different varieties of tea at home and I'm always looking for new ones I want to try. And good soap. It's getting harder to find (I never mentioned it but Boutiqueville is sadly changing - I don't know if it's the economy or what, but several of my favorite stores there have closed and been replaced by restaurants. Which is fine if you LIVE in Boutiqueville, but for someone traveling there for the day - there's really only one (two, at the outside) meals you can eat there. And I don't like driving an hour each way just for a restaurant meal, no matter how special).

So, I don't know. I'll give up a lot of things in the name of frugality. But the comfort, the happiness conveyed by knowing I can order a book and have it in my hands within two business days is not one of them.

1 comment:

Kate P said...

So that's what Amazon Prime is--interesting. (No bookstores around you? Yikes!)

P.S. Yeah, doesn't that book look really good?