Is Prime Day a good deal?

Stop frenzied slaughter with better research skills.   PC:  Fabian Blank  on  Unsplash

Stop frenzied slaughter with better research skills. 

PC: Fabian Blank on Unsplash

You might think you are getting the deal-of-the-year today, and you might be. But maybe you googled "Is Prime Day a good deal?" and got here because you're not sure if you should be shopping today. If so, welcome! At snackdinner, I teach research skills to parents. And what more valuable research skill is there than knowing if that toy you're about to buy is worth it? 

To know whether or not you're getting a good deal on a product, you need data. Frantically scrolling through lightning deals is a terrible way to gather this data, because there's a literal countdown telling you that you'll miss out if you don't act now. 

While the seconds tick down, you might be tempted to look at the list price of the product and the sale price, calculating the deal in terms of how much you'd be saving. The LEGO Classic Large Creative Brick Box is $47.99 today, down over ten bucks from its list price of $59.99. Time to stock up for the holidays! 

This is a terrible shopping strategy, because 1) you're going to end up opening that box well before then and just have to buy more LEGOs in November anyway and 2) you don't have enough data to know whether or not the LEGOs are a good price today. To know whether or not the price is a good one, you need to know what the box sold for yesterday, last week, or even last year.

Instead of shopping for deals on Prime Day, I set price watches year-round to automatically alert me when the products I want go on sale. My camelcamelcamel price watch for that box of LEGOs, for example, tells me that the best recorded price was last November-early December. It's a safe bet that if I wait for a few more months, I can the box at a better price during the holiday season.

But let's say I was exhausted from summer parenting and wanted to buy myself a break. I could use camelcamelcamel price watches to see that all of the Classic LEGOs are at a reasonably good price right now, and that the Classic Fun Future Building Kit is at its lowest recorded price. Given that information, I might choose to bribe my way into a few hours of uninterrupted writing time. 

With a trusted brand like LEGO, you can be reasonably assured you're getting a good product. If you're about to buy a new-to-you product, it might be worth doing one more bit of research. Let's say, for example, that you're in the market for a giant inflatable pretzel, and you notice that Swimline's version is much more expensive than GABOSS's. Fakespot analyzes Amazon product reviews and can tell you whether or not the reviews are likely to be fraudulent. In the case of this season's must-have pool inflatables, Fakespot can tell you that the GABOSS price is probably too good to be true, and that you should go with the more expensive but more trustworthy Swimline brand. 

One bonus tip: You may be reading lots websites for tips to find the best possible Prime Day deals, and that's great! How else would you even know of the existence of a giant inflatable pretzel? Just keep in mind that you're likely supporting those websites with your clicks. If you buy that pretzel after clicking on my link, for example, Amazon sends me a referral bonus.

The bonus doesn't mean I'm encouraging you to shop against your best interest, but it does mean that I have an incentive for you to purchase it. So think carefully about whether or not that pretzel is right for you, or if you just want it because I told you it existed. When you decide a giant inflatable pretzel really is for you, consider using a link from the website you most want to support. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy rainbow LEGOs.