Category Archives: General

Maximize Your Cyber Monday Savings at Amazon.com

If you are a frequent reader of the site, you may notice that I am a frequent user (and big booster) of Amazon.com. Since I use Amazon so much, I’ve figured out a few money saving tips over the years. Well, if you want to get picky, not all of these tips are “money saving” ideas, some of them just enable you to spend your money in a more “efficient manner.” Anywho, I’ve been saving these up for a while, and I figured Cyber Monday is as a good a time as any to post them, so here goes:

1. Get an Amazon.com Credit Card
Amazon VisaThe first of my Amazon money saving tips, is in fact, not technically a money saving tip, but in my opinion, a good idea if you are a frequent Amazon shopper. When you first apply and are approved for an Amazon.com Credit Card, you are entitled to a $50 Amazon gift card instantly. So, that in and of itself, saves you a bit of dosh on your next purchase. When you shop at amazon.com, it would also behoove you to use this card because you get 3 points for every $1 you spend at the site. The card is fee free, points don’t expire, and there is no limit to the number of points you can earn. All in all, it’s a worthwhile investment IMHO, even if just for the free $50 Gift Card.

2. Get Prime (for $16 year)
Amazon PrimeWith it’s free 2 Day shipping on all qualified purchases, unlimited video streaming for eligible titles, and free Kindle book lending, Amazon Prime is a tantalizing proposal at $79/year. Despite said advantages, I’ve always found the $79 a little bit of a pricey expenditure for one person, that’s why I’m going to tell you a way that you could theoretically get Prime for as little as $16/year. What’s not known to everyone is that as an Amazon Prime subscriber you can get share Prime with up to 4 additional members for no charge. Surely that’s a great benefit to Mom and Dad, Uncle Jessie, Aunt May and whoever else might be interested in receiving the bounties of Prime. Now a munificent individual might want to just to give these Prime benefits away as gifts, but if you’re interested in bringing your Prime cost of ownership to as little as possible, you could theoretically split the $80 membership fee five ways among your family members (or like-minded friends), thereby bringing down your yearly total to a cool $16 (rounded up for easy division). At a theoretical $16/year, Prime is unequivocally worth it.

3. Become an Amazon.com Associate
Amazon AssociatesThis one is a no-brainer, and unlike my other tips, it actually saves you money. If you sign up to become an amazon.com affiliate at amazon.com/associates, then if someone clicks your link (that one’s mine) and buys something at amazon, you get a minimum of a 4% commission on each purchase. Sounds like a pittance for sure, but there are more than a few deal sites making some serious cabbage off of these type of commissions.

4. Buy Stuff with Gift Cards and Save up to 10%
Amazon Gift Cards
OK, this one is probably the most complicated item on the list, but if you do it right you can usually save 10% on any purchase on amazon.com. First things first, you need to become an amazon associate (see Step 3 above). Second, you need to buy a gift card for your prospective purchase using your associates ID. But wait, there is a catch, YOU CANNOT BUY ANYTHING USING YOUR OWN ASSOCIATES ID AND RECEIVE A COMMISSION. So, while there is no way to directly enrich yourself using your associates ID, you could theoretically get around this prohibition by asking your spouse, mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle or good friend to make a gift card purchase on your behalf (for which you could then theoretically reimburse them). You get a cool 6% commission for every gift card purchase, and at least 4% commission on most purchases using said gift card (that’s 10% baby). If you read this, and you still don’t understand what I’m saying, you can try reading this longer explanation over here.

5. Turn It Over or Trade It In on the Amazon Marketplace
Amazon Seller ServicesLet’s say you got a sweet deal on Season 1 of Homeland this week ($20.00 for the Blu-ray or DVD is not too shabby), how many times are you really going to watch that series? My guess is probably once. So, unless you’re the sentimental type, I suggest watching that Emmy award winning Showtime drama and then flipping it faster than you can say Abu Nazir. The newer a TV series, book, movie or CD is, the higher it’s value on the resale market usually is (though CD’s are tough to resell at the best of times unless they are collectible). By reselling your once viewed DVDs and the like on the amazon marketplace, you can reduce your cost of ownership to a fraction of your original purchase price (used and new copies of Homeland are currently selling in the marketplace for up to $18.99). If you’re not into peddling your wares online (though amazon makes it incredibly easy), you may bypass the marketplace altogether and opt for a predetermined amount in Amazon Gift Cards (Season 1 of Homeland will currently net you $12.50 in GCs).

6. Keep Track of the Deal Sites
Popular deal sites like SlickDeals, FatWallet, BensBargains and XPBargains keep track of the best deals on a multiplicity items, many of which are sold at Amazon.com. Some sites, like SlickDeals, even have entire forums just devoted to Amazon deals. The other thing is, Amazon tends to watch these sites too, so if you see an incredible deal at Wal-Mart or Best Buy, it’s a pretty good bet that Amazon will soon offer a similarly priced deal. In short, it’s a good idea to monitor these sites if you’re interested in scoring an incredibly good deal on something that you may or may not necessarily need.

7. Add It To Your Cart… and wait
Often times, you might want to buy something at amazon.com, but for one reason or other you just don’t have the intestinal fortitude to pull the trigger. In those cases, and in all cases, I recommend adding that item to your cart. The reason is, once something is added to your cart, amazon alerts you to the last known price for that item, each time you come back to the site. So, for instance, today when I checked my cart, I learned that the price of the Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX ED VR Nikkor Wide-Angle Telephoto Lens has decreased from $659.00 to $639.00. Kaching! Well, I’m still not going to buy it, but it’s nice to know that I might have saved myself $20 if I was so inclined. If you don’t want to accidentally buy something on your way to check out (or the little numeral at top of your cart annoys you), you can save those almost impulse purchases “For Later” and you’ll still be alerted about price drops each time you view your cart in a new session.

8. Use a Website to Monitor Amazon Price Drops
If checking and re-checking your cart is a little tedious for you, you can also enlist the services of a third party site like Frozen Warrior to monitor price drops on your desired item(s). Sites like these are especially good for TV purchases, because Amazon currently has a TV Low Price Guarantee. According to the policy, if Amazon.com (or another qualifying website) beats the price you paid for your TV within 14 days of the ship date, they will refund you the difference. In other cases, where the item you buy isn’t a TV, Amazon may still match the price drop on your purchase (you’re more likely to have success if amazon.com has lowered the price themselves, and the price drop is closely contemporaneous with your purchase). The latter is not official policy, but a call or email to customer service can never hurt.

Did I miss anything?

2012 Black Friday Deals in Music, Movies and More

Black Friday Deals Week

Some good looking items in Amazon’s Black Friday week video games sale, I wasn’t so impressed with music, movies or TV though.

Amazon Black Friday Music Deals
Amazon.com Black Friday Week Music Deals Calendar (Nov 19-23)

Amazon Black Friday Movie and TV Deals
Amazon.com Black Friday Week Movie and TV Deals Calendar (Nov 19-23)
Amazon.com Black Friday Week Video Game Deals Calendar (Nov 19-23)
Amazon.com Black Friday Week Lightning Deals

Best Music of 2012... So Far
Amazon.com Best Music of 2012… So Far (Not Black Friday)
Amazon.com Best Books of 2012: Top 100 (Not Black Friday)

Here are a bunch of other Black Friday sites that I like:
Bfads.net
Black Friday at FatWallet.com
Black Friday at SlickDeals.net
Black Friday at Gotta Deal
BlackFriday.fm
TGIBlackFriday
BlackFriday.info
TheBlackFriday.com
BlackFDay.com
2012 Black Friday Ads
Gizmodo’s Black Friday Feed

…and of course,

SlickDeals.net
Dealspl.us
BensBargains.net
XPBargains.com
FatWallet.com

iPad/iPhone Apps
I had hoped that last year would be the year of the Black Friday app, and it really wasn’t. This year, there are a few more apps to add to the list, but still no real stand outs IMHO. The new app from BFads.net is probably the most impressive new app out there, but it still seems to be not quite as easy to navigate as the full web site. Longstanding deals site, FatWallet, also has a Black Friday iPad App which you might want to test out. I haven’t tried this year’s version of the app, but I know was disappointed with the one they put out last year. Based on their iTunes store reviews, the TGIBlackFriday app and the Black Friday Shopping App both appear to be worth checking out. For those of rocking an Android device, you may want to check out the Black Friday App by Dealnews on the Google Play store. Last but not least, while not specifically designed for Black Friday, the free iSlick App and the Daily Shopper Apps are two of the most reliable deal apps out there right now.

McCarren Park Pool and Play Center Officially Re-Opens Tomorrow (June 28)

McCarren Pool (Brooklyn, NY)
McCarren Pool

As I pointed out a little while ago, the long decommissioned McCarren Park Pool will officially re-open to the public as a swimmin’ hole tomorrow. If you’re in the mood to rub shoulders with hizzoner, you may still be able to get into the official ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday morning.

Please join Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and
Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe
for the reopening of McCarren Pool and Play Center

Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.

After being closed for 28 years, McCarren Pool and Play Center is Mayor Bloomberg’s first PlaNYC regional park project to be completed. The renovated WPA-era facility consists of an outdoor pool with state-of-the-art utilities and an indoor Play Center including gym, cardio and fitness rooms that will operate year-round.

Enter on Lorimer Street between Driggs Avenue and Bayard Street

Refreshments and music to follow the ceremony.
Limited capacity: RSVP to rsvp@parks.nyc.gov.

McCarren Park Pool Re-Opening As Pool This Summer

McCarren Pool
McCarren Pool

Everyone’s favorite abandoned-pool-come-concert-venue is about to become a swimming hole once again. On June 28, 2012, McCarren Park Pool will open to the public with eight 82 foot lanes that will be able to accommodate up to 1,500 swimmers. [The Brooklyn Paper (May 18-24)]

Located within the 35-acre McCarren Park, McCarren Pool was one of eleven pools opened by Robert Moses in 1936. The pool closed in 1984 and sat unused until the summer of 2005, when the empty pool basin opened as a popular venue for concerts, dance, and movies. Thanks to the $50 million in funding allocated through Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative, McCarren Pool is being rebuilt as a center for year-round recreation for the residents of northern Brooklyn.

The rehabilitation of the Pool preserves the historic bathhouse building and entry arch. The project includes a swimming pool, and recreation center. The pool “beach” can accommodate an ice skating rink in the winter. Arts and music events will return to McCarren after the pool reopens. [nycgovparks.org]

Jon Klemm Photography Has A New Site

The All New JonKlemmPhotography.com
Jon Klemm Photography

Hey folks, if you’re a regular reader, you might recognize the name Jon Klemm around here because well, he’s responsible for more awesome photo galleries on this site than anyone else. Jon cut his teeth as a Bumpershine contributor way back in 2008 at the Siren Music Festival and while he’s had his own portfolio site for years now, he recently stepped up his game with the launch of the all new JonKlemmPhotography.com. The new JKP site has some shots you might have seen on bumpeshine, but it also includes an eye-popping selection of high profile galleries (U2, Paul McCartney, Black Eyed Peas, The Strokes and Lady Gaga, just to name a few) from Jon’s other gig as a photographer for Time Out New York. In addition to shooting, Jon’s blogging at his new site now too, so keep checking his home page for regular updates or subscribe to his RSS feed. Last but not least, not content to just be a photoblogger, you can also follow Jon on Facebook and Twitter.

The Inbox Of A Blogger, Over Time…

Bumpershine.com Inbox (2008-2011)
Bumpershine.com inbox 2008-2011
Click to enlarge the chart

So, as you might imagine, being a blogger, I get a lot of emails, so many in fact, that I can’t possibly respond to them all personally. I know this probably makes some people think I am aloof, unfriendly or even mean*, but the truth of the matter is with a full time day job, it’s hard to even maintain the level of communication that I currently keep up. Having said all that, I thought I would set out to discover the actual volume of email that I receive every day, month and year. Though my totals are not 100% accurate, (some unaccounted for @bumpershine.com email slips into my personal account and some goes directly to spam), with the help of Gmail labels and filters I was more or else able to get a pretty good estimate of the entire volume of email I have received since I started blogging. I’m no Nate Silver of course, but here are some of the more the interesting results from my statistical analysis of the data.

The Tale of The Blogger’s Inbox
Most Emails In One Month: 2663 (Mar 2011)
All Time High Daily Email Average: 85.9 emails/day (Mar 2011)
All Time High Monthly Email Average: 2,206 (Jan-Apr 2011)
First Month w/ Over 1K Emails: Oct 2008 (1,099)
First Month w/ Over 2K Emails: Mar 2010 (2,012)
2011 Total YTD (Jan-Apr): 8,824
2011 Projected Total: 26,472
2010 Total: 22,579
Total All Time (Nov 2004 – Apr 2011): 56,375

If you’d like to try this for yourself sometime, here’s how I got my data. First off, I used a Gmail filter to assign the “bumpershine” label to every email I received that was addressed to an @bumpershine.com address. Then, using Gmail’s search box, I ran a query that looked something like this: “label:bumpershine after:2011/03/1 before:2011/04/1”. Unfortunately, due to a flaw in Gmail’s search functionality, that query itself does not return an accurate total for the month until you navigate back to the page with the “oldest” emails for that month. After you’ve run the monthly query once, change the start and end dates, rinse and repeat. It’s a tedious process no doubt, but the data geek in me is now satisfied, at least for the time being. (Oh yeah, the other thing about all this data is that Gmail counts a threaded conversation as a single email, so that actually skews these numbers a bit lower than they should be.)

* The truth is I wish I could respond to everyone personally, because I don’t like being perceived negatively by folks I don’t even know, and I have a lot of empathy for the often hapless job of being a publicist.

More fun charts and statistics after the jump.

Continue reading The Inbox Of A Blogger, Over Time…