By Daniel Kline
Amazon offers lots of good deals but as Admiral Akbar said “it’s a trap,” or at least it can be.
Prime Day delivers a sort of adult Christmas in July. The annual event delivers Black Friday-like sales in the heart of the summer — at a time when nothing else is happening and back-to-school and the holiday season still seem a bit far off.
It’s a chance to buy things you need or items you’ve long had your eye on for a good price. You can save a lot of money if you plan well, know what you’re buying, and really do your homework. Of course, like the holiday season, it’s also a time when you can wake up a few days later, look around your house, and realize you have made a terrible mistake.
Saving money on Prime Day is possible, but wasting money is even more likely. And as someone who has wasted more money on Prime Day than he has (or likely ever will) save, there are some hard lessons you should take heed of before you consider opening your wallet.
Here are four common pitfalls (I’ve made every one of these) that even a shopper with the best intentions can fall victim to.
Know What You Are Buying
Amazon sells a lot of electronics on Prime Day and it’s really easy to not get exactly what you think your getting. Check features, specifications, and model numbers very closely as that laptop you’re buying may look like the one you had your eye one, but the one on sale has a processor from 2016.
This can be especially true when buying a big-screen television. A tiny switch in model number might mean lower resolution or missing features.
Do I Really Need This?
As my wife and I packed to move from a rental to the house we just purchased, she asked me why I had so many tripods? It’s a fair question, as there appeared to be at least a dozen of them and the short answer is that the price was right, I never seem to have the right tripod when I need one, and I kept buying them.
I did not share that I also had about 100 extra cables and connectors that I may have needed at one point but could not find even if I had a use for them. Add in at least three fancy coffee makers that were really good deals, and well, you can see why price alone is not the only factor as to whether you should make a purchase.
Am I Going to Use This?
Seeing a really good deal on roller blades, a standup paddle board, or one of those kits that lets you make beer always makes me think I’m the kind of person who does those things. And, some people might just be one of those items away from being an entirely different person but before you hit the “buy” button ask yourself, “am I really only a ukulele or a unicycle away from being a musician or a unicyclist?
The answer for some of you may be yes, but the multiple guitars I’ve owned over the years suggest that I’m probably not a set of hiking boots away from being really into hiking.
Do I Have Room for This?
We’re moving from 2,600 square foot condo with a huge kitchen to a 1,500 square foot house with a much nicer, but much smaller kitchen. In anticipation of the move, I downsized from my office-size fancy coffee maker to a still-fancy espresso machine about 20% the size. That was a sensible decision given our counter space. I also bought a grill and a small smoker because our new place has a covered outdoor space where using both of those is legal (which it was not at either of our previous two homes).
The ice cream maker I bought (from Amazon, but well before Prime Day) make less sense, but that’s not an appliance that you leave out. The drink-maker I’ve had my eye on, the Bev by Black and Decker, which uses Bartesian pods, makes far less sense for me as it pretty much has to be left out on the counter.
I want one, it’s marked down by a third, but if I buy one, I simply don’t have space to use it and I’d likely get frustrated at how much counter space it takes up every time I go to make dinner.