Every Money-Saving Secret I've Learned by Shopping Amazon for a Living

If inflation is hurting your wallet, these tips can help. 

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CeraVe hydrating cream-to-foam cleanser container against pink and orange background
Photo: amazon.com

When a typical grocery store run costs nearly double what it did in the past, I realized that budgeting would not be enough to offset inflation. Thankfully, I've picked up many money-saving tips while working as a shopping reporter specializing in all things Amazon. With inflation making everything more expensive, I'm leaning into them more than ever.

While Amazon has a savings hub as part of its Outlet store, there are dozens of other ways to score discounts—especially if you know where to look and when to buy. And they go way beyond a Prime membership (though that is one way to save if you shop often).

As a shopping editor, I've spent three years analyzing and covering the retailer, its latest arrivals, and best-selling products. I've met with countless Amazon employees and brands that sell their products through the retailer. Here are 12 things I've learned on the job that will help you save, whether you're an occasional or frequent shopper.

01 of 12

Browse and Bookmark Amazon's Hubs

Amazon pots and pans deal

Amazon has numerous stores within its online store. There are hubs for all kinds of things, like pretty houseplants and music merch, but a few tend to have the absolute best offers. If you're searching for, say, a new television or dresser, look through these sections first to see what's on sale.

02 of 12

Use Subscribe and Save

Mascara wand and container

Take advantage of Amazon's Subscribe and Save program, which will save you 5 to 15 percent every time you purchase an item when you schedule recurring deliveries.

This is ideal for things you go through quickly or regularly. I set shipments for my favorite mascara, facial cleanser, and about a dozen other snacks and household items. I never run out of my favorites, and I can pause or cancel automation anytime.

03 of 12

Join Prime If You Shop Often

Amazon Prime homepage

If you shop at Amazon frequently, the various perks can add up and offset the cost of a Prime membership. More than 30 listed benefits come with a membership, like access to its Prime Video and Amazon Music streaming services, Whole Foods deals, free audiobooks via Audible, and more. At the very least, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial around Prime Day to access the full array of deals.

04 of 12

Share Your Prime Account

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips

Pass on savings and perks to your family by creating a household. This Prime member perk gives family members convenient access to your Prime account, so they can order items, get free shipping, and more through one shared membership. By sharing an Amazon account and splitting the cost, you could save about $70 a year.

05 of 12

Check If You Qualify for Discounted Membership or Groceries

Amazon Prime homepage

Many folks don't know this, but Amazon offers 50 percent off their Prime membership for those receiving government assistance or Medicaid. They also provide free shipping and exclusive discounts to people buying Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-eligible groceries with their card.

06 of 12

Save Through Amazon's FSA/HSA Store

Coola Mineral Lip Trio

If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), you're already saving money by putting pre-tax dollars to work. And you can make that money go further by taking advantage of Amazon's deals featured in its FSA and HSA store.

07 of 12

Try Before You Buy

Athletic gear on a green background

When shopping for a new winter coat, I used Amazon's Try Before You Buy to order a few I had been eyeing. Instead of charging my account for all five styles and racking up shipping fees, I paid nothing upfront and scored free delivery and returns. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a package, only to be disappointed by the style or fit and then be slapped with a hefty return fee.

08 of 12

Never Pay Full Price

White loveseat

This tip might seem obvious, but I would argue that it's the best one of them all. As a frugal person who prioritizes my saving goals, I refuse to pay full price with just a few occasional, reasonable exceptions.

If my workout clothes are starting to show wear (or it's time to restock my skincare supplies), I hold off until a big shopping event, like Prime Day or a holiday weekend. I waited for a sale before snagging a mid-century sofa and television for my new apartment. This strategy also gives me time to mull over purchases and prevents buyer's remorse.

09 of 12

Buy Bulk When Able

Peanut butter protein powder

When I visited Costco for the first time, I expected big membership savings. To my surprise, I learned that I was already scoring better prices at Amazon, especially when I was utilizing the Subscribe and Save feature and buying things like cleaning supplies in bulk. Items like a year's supply of my allergy meds, large sets of toilet paper, and large tubs of protein powder were the same price or even cheaper. And I don't have to leave my house to shop for these deals.

10 of 12

Check Prices, Always

Revlon hair brush blow dryer

I use CamelCamelCamel, a free search tool, to view a product's price history and to set alerts for price drops. Items like the Black and Decker dustbuster cordless vacuum and the Revlon One-Step hair styler fluctuate in price often, so I use this tool to ensure I'm scoring decent savings.

11 of 12

Take Advantage of Coupons

Pillow ad on Amazon

Just like coupon flyers of the past, Amazon has a section devoted to virtual coupons that you can "clip" and apply to purchases. If you're in the market for laundry detergent or new headphones, head to its coupon hub to find what you need on sale. You can sort by the discount percentage or offers that will expire soon. And if you see a coupon featured in a product listing, apply it by selecting the box next to it, and the savings will appear during checkout.

12 of 12

Consider Amazon Brands

Pink cast iron dutch oven

The retailer designs and sells products in almost every category and typically offers high-quality items at competitive prices, so it's a great way to get a little more bang for your buck. Its line of kitchen tools and cookware is my personal favorite, particularly the Amazon Basics enameled cast iron dutch oven. It's much more affordable than pieces from high-end brands like Le Creuset—and I would never be able to tell the difference without the insignia.

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