Thursday, July 10, 2008

Amazon Tips

I shop on Amazon for quite a few things. The convenience is wonderful, and I find many great deals by watching the site almost daily. I do have a few tricks to help make it easier.

One thing I do is have multiple wish lists. Some of them are public -- one for the boys, another for L, another for DH & me, and a fourth for homeschooling books I'd like. Then, I keep a few private -- items I'd like to send as a gift for someone I know, items I'm watching and am interested in, but don't want on a public list, items I want to remember to look for at our library, items that are good for their 4 for 3 promotion so they're all in one place.

By keeping so many wish lists, I am able to quickly check prices to see if the price has dropped. It also allows me to make notes by each item. One of the most important notes for me is the price note. I type in the price and date so I know if it's dropped or risen. This allowed me to purchase L's Madame Alexander doll for less than $14, when it was over $40 for months. Another note I make is who the item is for on my gifts wish list, or whether it's an item that N or C would like on the boys' wish list. (You can see what I mean if you click on the wish lists over on the right.) Sometimes I kick myself for not jumping on a deal soon enough -- like the wagon on L's wishlist that was $50 for a couple days before her birthday, then jumped back to $79.99 where it has stayed since then.

The 4 for 3 wishlist helps me make the best choices for that offer. If you're not familiar with it, there are hundreds of books, cds, dvds, and even household items that are part of this program. When you purchase 4 items in the program, you receive one free. The free item is the least expensive item, so I try to purchase 4 things that cost the same, or very close to the same. Sometimes, I'll have three $3.99 books I want to purchase, but I'll wait until I find a fourth $3.99 book before ordering that set. The same holds true for $8.99 books -- I prefer to receive a free $8.99 book instead of ordering three at that price, and one at $3.99.

Another thing I use is their Prime shipping membership. While their $25/free shipping offer is great, it takes a while to receive your items and you have to spend a minimum of $25. I split the cost of the membership with my sister and we receive free 2 day shipping on thousands of items. This allows me to spend less than $25 and also send gifts anyplace in the country. Often, I will pay for giftwrap since I don't have to pay for shipping when sending gifts. Last year, the membership was around $80 (so $40 for me) and I most definitely order more than enough. The prime membership allows me to purchase things like the $5.95 inflatable globe I ordered today without having to spend an extra $20 to get free shipping, or pay more than the globe cost for shipping. I'm sure if Amazon was losing money on the program, they would discontinue it, so I don't feel bad about using it.

And, finally, I signed up as an Amazon associate. This was very simple to do through the Amazon website. After I was set up and approved, I put specially coded links to Amazon on my blogs and whenever someone purchases something after clicking through my link, I receive a small commission. Mainly my family and friends try to remember to click through my links and I've earned a little bit towards our book purchases.

I may sound like an ad for Amazon after this post, but they didn't pay me for it! I just realized that it's one of the tools I use to maximize the use of our money and thought I'd share!

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