Question: Everyone is talking about all the great deals for Amazon Prime Day, but I’m not a member because I don’t really care about next-day shipping. Not enough to pay $119 a year. But if Amazon Prime Day can save me $120, then I guess it’s worth it. But how do I figure that out ahead of time? Amazon doesn’t say what the deals are until right before Prime Day! — Joy P. in Florida
Howard Dvorkin CPA replies…
Amazon Prime Day is the ultimate online expression of FOMO — fear of missing out. I’m here to tell you: Don’t stress out about missing out. Let’s break this down and see if Amazon Prime is worth it for you…
Weird things about 2019 prime day
Seven weird things about Amazon Prime Day.
- Amazon discounts more than just Amazon products. In the past, they’ve knocked more than $40 off the price for someone to come to your house and install your new TV or configure a WiFi router for faster internet.
- Historically, the Amazon warehouse has also had Prime Day sales. Meaning, the bargain bin full of items other people return could have sales too.
- The likelihood of Amazon discounting Google products is very low. But you might find sales on those items at Best Buy around the same time.
- In past years the sale has seen some glitches. Some lucky Prime members got multiple discounts, making their items 40 to 60 percent cheaper.
- Merchants are typically charged $150 fee to run a Lightening Deal. But during Prime week it’s $300 and on Prime Day that fee jumps to $500.
- In the past, it was thought that $10 billion was lost in productivity over Prime Day. This is due to a survey of some Prime members where 78 percent said they would shop at their desk.
- If you think Prime Day’s $4.19 billion is big, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba generated $30.8 billion during their Single’s Day sale in 2018. Making it the actual biggest shopping day of the year in the world. Sorry, Jeff!
On Prime Day this year, Debt.com will help you spot the deals without breaking your budget.
What is Amazon Prime Day, and when is it?
Amazon Prime Day is a holiday unlike any other. For starters, you never know when it will happen. Unlike Black Friday, which is always the day after Thanksgiving, this shopping holiday moves according to the whims of Amazon’s executives.
Last year, it was July 17. This year, it’s actually two days: July 15 and 16. So what happens on that day? If you’re an Amazon Prime member — which means you pay $119 a year for Amazon perks and privileges — you get one day of incredible deals.
For 2017’s Prime Day, nearly 400 items were ordered per second. Sounds like a wonderful 24 hours of savings, doesn’t it?
It is — and it isn’t. Like every other sale, how you use it determines whether you’ve actually succeeded. Let’s break it down…
How to be Prime for a time
If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, don’t pay $119 just for Prime Day. Instead, take advantage of Amazon’s 30-day free trial for Prime. Once Prime Day is over, you can cancel before your 30 days elapse.
Of course, you need to be careful. Amazon won’t tell you when your trial is ending. If you find Prime worth the annual fee, that’s fine. (Here’s how to tell if you’ll get the most out of Amazon Prime.) The problem with both Amazon Prime and Prime Day is that many people don’t do the math. They rely on emotion.
Prime Day isn’t always a good day
Amazon sets up Prime Day in an addictive way. Unlike Black Friday — the shopping holiday it’s most often compared to — the deals change every five minutes. That’s right, Amazon adds new deals throughout the day. The company encourages Prime Day fans to download the free Amazon app so you can get constant notifications about the newly added deals.
Unlike many other writers, this doesn’t excite me. It concerns me.
Debt.com has previously reported on research that shows, “Americans looking for deals aren’t pricing out final costs before buying.” More than half of us “admit they have a hard time calculating the true value of an offer.”
That’s bad enough when you’re standing in a store or clicking online during the holidays. You can take your time and consider your options. Amazon Prime Day uses tactics that resemble an infomercial: “Act NOW! Operators are standing by for the next 10 minutes!”
If you succumb to the pressure of scrolling through deals every five minutes, your brain will be locked into shopping mode. It’s not a stretch for me to say you’ll probably buy items you don’t really need.
You certainly won’t have time to truly consider if the “deal price” is really a deal. Amazon Prime Day isn’t designed for rational, calm comparison shopping. So you need to be careful.
One way to do Prime Day right
As someone who preaches frugality and even going cold turkey on your credit cards, I can endorse one plan for Amazon Prime: Buy your holiday gifts now.
If you resolve that Amazon Prime Day is only for this year’s holiday shopping, you won’t be lured into buying products you don’t need. You’ll also save money later in the year, because Amazon’s deals are, by and large, as good or better than what you’ll find on Black Fridays and beyond.
You’ll also have more free time to enjoy your holidays. So there you have it. Prime Day is Black Friday in July. Sign up for the free trial offer, Joy, buy your holiday gifts, and cancel your trial before mid-August.