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Amazon shopping

Take advantage of special deals on Amazon for a range of items, from groceries to household essentials, home items and more.

Maggie Hensler photo

Online shopping has dramatically increased in the last few years, and with Amazon leading the sales, millions of Americans are Amazon Prime members. We’ve been Prime members for years, but it’s just recently that I’ve learned some new ways to take advantage of the Prime membership to really get our money’s worth. Admittedly, I’ve maybe gone a little overboard with my Amazon shopping lately, but there is just so much good stuff out there. So if you haven’t joined the Amazon bandwagon, you might be wondering if it’s really worth it. Or maybe you’re like me, and didn’t realize everything you could do with Amazon.

1. Amazon Prime Membership

For $99 a year, you can become an Amazon Prime member, and recently, they added a monthly $10.99 option. Also, if you’re a student, you can get Prime for $49 a year. Is the $99 worth it? For us, it has been so worth it. Of course the biggest advantage is free two day shipping on Prime items, but there are other perks, like Prime Video, unlimited reading, music streaming, and photo storage. I figure to make it worth it you have to average three shipping orders a month. There are other ways to get free shipping without a membership, but you have to meet spending thresholds, and sometimes, I don’t want to figure out other things to buy just to reach a certain dollar amount.

2. Subscribe & Save and Prime Pantry

I really didn’t start using these until recently because with couponing, I felt I could get better deals elsewhere. With Subscribe & Save, if you subscribe to get five or more eligible items shipped to you regularly (once a month or less often), you save 15 percent on all of it. I discovered the dog food we buy is significantly cheaper than the regular store price, plus I buy a few things we go through like crazy, such as granola bars and nuts. The extra 15 percent does help, and it’s nice to have those items shipped right to the door once a month.

For awhile, I just could not understand why I should bother with Prime Pantry. It doesn’t have free shipping; it’s $5.99. But the key is to shop for items in promotions, like the current offer of save $6 when you buy five select items, essentially making shipping free. Plus, many items have coupons attached. You can also use one no-rush shipping credit. With all of this, I’ve been able to save up to 50 percent on my order.

3. No-Rush Shipping

Sure, a big feature of Amazon is two-day shipping, but most of the time I don’t really need anything that quickly. So, Amazon offers a reward to encourage people to take a slower shipping option, like the most common $5 off a Prime Pantry purchase or $1 digital rewards. I’ve also seen rewards for $5 off shoes, $10 off a furniture purchase, $5 off a CD purchase, and more. The $1 digital rewards are nice because you can use them for Kindle books, Amazon apps, digital video game downloads and more. The rewards could get you things for free or very cheap.

4. Amazon Sales and Facebook

A couple of friends added me to some Facebook groups dedicated to Amazon shopping. I must warn you. Joining these groups is addicting. The groups share sales, lightning deals and promo codes for really great savings. One group I joined is basically dedicated to cute Amazon clothing and accessories, and people share photos of themselves in the clothes. I really hadn’t purchased clothes on Amazon before because I like to try things on prior to purchase, but when you see cute items for a steal of a deal, it’s hard to say no. Plus, many of the Amazon Prime purchases also have free returns, so if you hate it, just print a shipping label and send it back in the mail for a refund. Another group I joined shares a range of products, often with short-term promo codes from sellers, even sometimes with savings of 90 percent. I recently purchased a $48 kitchen faucet for $9, a double sleeping bag for $20, kids soccer cleats for $9, and a sweater for myself for $3. If you do a little searching on Facebook, you’re bound to find a group you like for the things you are searching for.

Take advantage of all the great offers for Amazon Prime members so you can get the most out of it. If you’re a busy, always on the go family like we are, Amazon can certainly save you time and money for the things you need and want.

Maggie Hensler is a teacher living the frugal life in Davenport with her husband and two boys. Her column runs every Saturday in the Quad-City Times.