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How to Shop Amazon Prime Day Without Overspending

Amazon's "Prime Day" is back, and so is the temptation to shop and overspend on stuff you don't need.

The made-up holiday, first held in 2015, has become one of Amazon's busiest shopping days, offering discounts on gadgets, TVs, and other goods. But it's also a way for Amazon to get more people to sign up for its $119-a-year Prime membership.

This year, despite its name, Prime Day is happening on two days: July 15 and July 16.

Here are some tips for navigating the sales holiday:

Plan ahead

To cut down on impulse purchases, write down what you want ahead of time and set a spending limit, says Ross Steinman, a professor of psychology at Widener University in Chester, Pa.

Much of what is on sale is kept a secret until the event, but you'll be able to browse deals ahead of time on Amazon's app, the company says. Based on past Prime Days, expect its deepest discounts to be on Amazon devices, like its voice-activated Echo speakers and Kindle e-book readers.

Sara Skirboll, a shopping expert at deals site RetailMeNot, recommends setting up a "Wish List" on the Amazon app and allowing it to send notifications so you can get alerts if those items get a price cut.

Slow down

Use the two days of discounts to your advantage. Before you buy, give yourself some time to think about whether you actually need the items you're eyeing. It can help cut down on overspending, says Steinman.

"You have some time to cool off," he says.

Prime workaround

The deals are only for Prime members. But if you're not a member, you don't have to pay the fee to take part. Amazon offers a 30-day free trial when you sign up for Prime. Just remember to set a calendar reminder to cancel the subscription before you are charged $12.99 a month or $119 for the year.

Shop around

Other stores are crashing Amazon's party, which means more deals for shoppers. Walmart, Target, and eBay plan to offer their own online discounts during Amazon's Prime Day event. So make sure to search around on other sites to make sure it isn't cheaper elsewhere.

Price history

Use price-tracking websites, such as CamelCamelCamel or Keepa, to see how the price of an item has changed on Amazon over time. It can help you see if you're really getting the lowest price or if the item tends to be cheaper during other times of the year.

"Just because something is on sale, doesn't mean it's a great deal," says Skirboll.

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