5 Things to Avoid on Amazon Prime Day

It’s that time of the year — Prime Day is right around the corner on July 15 and 16. The event has turned into summer’s version of Black Friday, a shopping frenzy that can turn into a hangover of spending regret once the packages arrive on your doorstep.

Even professionals can get trigger happy over bargains they don’t need. On the very first Prime Day, two of our colleagues at Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products, got sucked into a bargain-basement price on a stepping exercise machine that wound up first as a giant clothes hanger and then as trash.

Here’s how Wirecutter can help you. We believe that buying the right things, not just more gear, can make life better. That’s why the Wirecutter Deals team will be spending the next week scouring Amazon’s Prime Day lists (as well as the sales of other retailers attempting to capitalize on Prime Day fever) to find true deals only on the things worth buying. If last year is any model, Wirecutter Deals will reject over 99 percent of the offerings and highlight only the exceptional offers we would buy with our own money.

To make the most of Prime Day, follow the Wirecutter Deals page throughout the event, where we’ll be updating our list of researched deals that are actually worth your time. See Wirecutter’s latest deals here.

In collaboration with everyone at Wirecutter, here are five things to avoid on Prime Day.

2019 TVs

Unless you get a truly incredible Prime Day price on a 2019 television, buying a 2018 TV on sale will get you the better value. Our TV expert Chris Heinonen says the best TV deals generally come on Black Friday and after companies debut their newest models at the annual CES trade show (the next one will be in January 2020). If Prime Day is anything like Black Friday, you might also need to keep an eye out for confusing model numbers on versions that omit features — send us a tweet if you want to be sure a TV is a good value.

The bundle blunder (and the gift card gaffe)

Make sure that all the pieces of a bundle are really things you need and want. You might want a smart doorbell, but do you want or need the ubiquitous bundled mini smart speaker that comes with that if it represents any additional cost? Are you prepared to take the time to sell that extra item? Similarly, if a deal comes with a gift card from a lesser-known retailer (or one with specific terms such as a 90-day expiration), will you be able to put it to good use? If not, pass on the bundle.

Wasting the day waiting for Lightning Deals

Lightning Deals are designed to encourage impulse purchases. Instead of succumbing, browse the Lightning Deals in the morning to see what will be on offer, check with Wirecutter to make sure the price is low enough to qualify as a good deal, then set an alarm for a few minutes before it starts so that you don’t miss out.

Big-ticket buys you don’t need

Just because an item like a treadmill or a laptop is deeply discounted from its usual steep price doesn’t mean you should get it. Make a list of the specific things you need and want (even down to the make and model) and stick to it. Get independent confirmation from a reliable source (like Wirecutter) that it’s a good price on a quality item. If Wirecutter’s previous Prime Day best sellers are an indicator, you’ll most likely see a lot of small electronics (headphones, Bluetooth trackers) and small appliances (Instant Pots, robot vacuums) fly by. They’re valuable only if you know you’ll use them.

Redundant or obsolete tech

Do you really need that thing? If you own a toaster oven with convection, you already have something better than an air fryer with a big footprint (Wirecutter doesn’t recommend any air fryers). Also, sometimes older items on Prime Day are discounted for a reason — they’re aging out. Check for recent, newer-generation releases to make sure your shiny new thing doesn’t feel out of date next month.

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Tip of the Week

This week I’ve invited the writer Stephanie Dubick to talk about mothers.

Our relationships with our mothers are complex. While some of us might think of our mom as our protector and nurturer, for others, the relationship is far more complicated.

If you have a difficult relationship with your mom, sometimes the simple act of speaking or writing about your experience is enough to help you heal and move forward.

So suggests Michele Filgate, a writer and editor who, in her new anthology, “What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About,” explores the intricacies and sometimes difficulties in the mother-child relationship. By putting fear aside, opening up to your mom about your life can make you feel less alone and more connected to her. A simple, practical way to get there is something you already use every day: email. Not only can it give you the time and space to write messages on your terms, it also allows you to comfortably express, and work through, tough conversations.

“There’s a relief in breaking the silence,” Ms. Filgate writes. “This is also how we grow.” By acknowledging the things we don’t talk about, we not only heal from strained relationships with our moms, but we also heal our relationship with ourselves.

“The more we face what we can’t or won’t or don’t know,” Ms. Filgate writes, “the more we understand one another.”

If you feel as if you have unresolved issues with your mother, try it out for yourself this week: Write down the things you don’t talk about with her, the secrets that often go unspoken. It might feel good to speak — or write — your truth.

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