Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days are in full swing and the deals are coming in fast. So far, the headliners for day one have been discounts on Dyson and Apple products, a slew of televisions and video games, and a lifetime Microsoft Office license for only $99 (which prompted another retailer to sell it for $30).
With new deals dropping every five minutes, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But before you charge that Dutch oven to your credit card, run through these three tips to make sure you’re actually getting a deal.
One thing I hate about Prime Day is that it’s unabashedly designed to make us buy stuff we probably don’t need. An iRobot Roomba? A cordless vacuum? Please — my Hoover is still kicking it and refuses with ironfist to give up the ghost.
But one way to buy stuff you need with significant savings is to make shopping lists dedicated to Prime Days. As you come across items you want (but not at full price), add them to your list. Then, during Prime Day, scroll through it and see which items are flagged as Prime Day deals (currently marked with a red banner that says “Big Deal”).
This is my spouse’s trick and it pays off immensely. Outside of Prime Days, she constantly adds big ticket items we can’t afford at full price, along with necessities we have on subscribe-and-save, like cat food. The list accumulates and, during Prime Day, we scan it to find deals that match what we really want.
It’s not foolproof. For instance, I wanted new Airpods to replace a set that won’t stop playing music intermittently between my ears (everything I own is possessed, like my printer). I didn’t add the Airpods to a shopping list and, frankly, missed the big sale on them. But it is a way to filter deals by what you want, not to mention curb spending.
Let’s say you find a Prime Day deal on something you need. How do you know it’s actually a deal, that is, the lowest price you can find on the web?
One way is to download a third-party shopping app. This will compare the deal with other retailers that are selling the same product. For instance, I use the Capital One Shopping App. This app, which you can add as an extension to your browser, will look for better deals automatically. If it finds a better price, it will tell you how much you can save. Better yet — the app integrates with Amazon pages and will tell you instantly if there’s a cheaper price.
In my experience, the app often finds the best deals on eBay, which may mean buying the product used. But it can still come in handy as it will compare Amazon’s prices with over 30,000 online stores.
3. Analyze price histories
Little known fact: The “savings” that Amazon advertises aren’t always honest. In fact, according to a study published in Marketing Science last year, some sellers will inflate list prices ahead of sales to make it seem like you’re saving more than you actually are.
For example, let’s say a seller normally sells vacuums for $200. During Prime Day, they decide to sell them for $175. In the weeks leading up to Prime Day, they inflate the price to $225. This makes it seem like you’re getting a 22% discount, when in reality your savings are more like 12.5%.
One way to check if the discount is real is to look at its price history. Several apps and browser extensions can help you do this but my favorite is camelcamelcamel. This app (also a free website) will show you a product’s price history as a graph. Normally, a product’s price will be a steady horizontal line, with some occasional upticks. If you notice a steady line with a major uptick in the weeks before Prime Day, it might be an attempt to inflate savings.
Amazon Prime Days can help you save money but be on your guard
All in all, these tips can help you spot real Prime Day deals from the noise. Not every deal will be right for you, even if the savings seem great. Stay on your toes, and avoid getting roped into “deals” that may not have the best impact on your finances.
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