I Shop Amazon for a Living, and Here's Every Clever Money-Saving Secret I've Learned

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

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Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
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When my typical grocery store run cost nearly double what it did a few months ago, I realized that my budget was not going to be enough if I didn't make a few changes to offset inflation. Thankfully, I've picked up many money-saving tips while working as a shopping reporter who specializes in all things Amazon. And now that inflation is making everything more expensive, I'm leaning into them more than ever.

While Amazon has its own savings hub as part of its Outlet store, there are dozens of other ways to score discounts big and small—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 the last 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.

Browse and bookmark Amazon's best sections

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
amazon.com

Amazon has numerous stores within its online store. There are hubs for all kinds of things, like pretty houseplants and music merch, but there are a few that tend to have the absolute best offers. Its Gold Box deals page features all of its latest deals. The Amazon Outlet store comes with big savings across all of its categories. Its Super Discounts section features nothing over $10. And its Just for Prime page is packed with exclusive savings for Prime members. If you're searching for, say, a new television or dresser, look through these sections first to see what's on sale.

Subscribe and save

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
amazon.com

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 automations anytime.

Join Prime if you shop often

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
amazon.com

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

Share your Prime account

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
amazon.com

Pass on savings and perks to your family by creating a household. This Prime member perk gives family convenient access to your Prime account, so they can order items, get free shipping, and more through one shared membership. My brother and I share an Amazon account and split the cost, saving me about $70 a year.

See if you qualify for a discounted Prime membership and groceries

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

Save through Amazon's FSA/HSA store

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
amazon.com

If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), then you're already saving money by putting your 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, which currently has markdowns on first aid kits, Cerave facial sunscreen, and anti-aging lip balm. You can even find COVID-19 Antigen rapid tests on sale from time to time.

Try before you buy

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
amazon.com

When shopping for a new winter coat in December, 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 I scored free delivery and returns. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a package only to be disappointed and then slapped with a hefty return fee.

Commit to never paying full price

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
amazon.com

This tip might seem obvious, but I would argue that it's the best one of the bunch. 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, to check out. Right now, I'm waiting for a sale before I snag a mid-century sofa and television for my new apartment. This strategy also gives me time to mull over purchases and prevents buyers remorse, too.

Buy bulk when you can

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
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When I visited Costco for the first time this past fall, I expected big 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 in bulk. Items like a year's supply of my allergy meds, large sets of toilet paper, and big tubs of protein powder, were the same price or even cheaper. And I don't have to leave my house to shop these deals.

Always price check

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
amazon.com

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 tend to go on sale often and fluctuate in price, so I use this tool to ensure I'm scoring decent savings.

Take advantage of coupons

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
amazon.com

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 expiring soon. And if you see a coupon featured in a product listing, apply the coupon by selecting the box next to it and the savings will appear during checkout.

Consider Amazon brands

Amazon Editor Shopping Tips
amazon.com

The retailer designs and sells products in almost every category and typically offers high-quality items at competitive price points, 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. Starting at $43, 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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