One of the biggest shopping days of the year is coming soon. Here's how to do it right.

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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.

For 2018, it was recently revealed to be July 17. 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 last year’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.

Everything you need to know about Amazon Prime Day this year.

We all love the hustle and bustle of Black Friday. But historically, Amazon’s new summer shopping holiday actually beats Black Friday’s deals.

For Prime members, the sale starts on July 16. Not a member? Snag a 30-day trial to get the deals. To take full advantage of the sales, you need to do four things:

  1. Watch Amazon’s Prime Day Hub online. It’s a one stop shop with updates all day.
  2. Keep tabs on your watchlist for product comparisons, and get notifications for price drops with the browser plugin or mobile app.
  3. With Alexa, get deals exclusive only to voice shoppers. Some lucky voice shoppers also get a two-hour head start one the sales.
  4. Prime Day is so big, other brands can’t help but get in on the action. Target, Best Buy, and Newegg, are a few that will also be offering sales that week. Don’t forget, check out Debt.com on Prime Day for great deals too.

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.

During the last holiday shopping season, Debt.com reported, “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.

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Meet the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

CPA and Chairman

Dvorkin is the author of Credit Hell and Power Up, founder of Consolidated Credit, and Chairman of Debt.com.

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Article last modified on July 6, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Amazon Prime Day: Do It Wrong, And It'll Cost You - AMP.