| Special to USA TODAYThe holiday shopping season arrives earlier every year. In 2021, it’s not only a retailer’s strategy to get you to spend more money. Supply chain disruptions and chip shortages mean buying specific items will be more challenging and more expensive.Before you pull out your wallet, clever crooks are after your hard-earned cash. Amazon text scams will only get worse as we get closer to December. Tap or click for ways to stop junk texts and spam that really work.Good old-fashioned robocalls are out in full force, too. If you pick up your phone and see an incoming call from this number, don’t answer.Here are proven ways to get the gifts you want while staying on your budget:1. Get a discount on brand-new techTake a look around your house. Do you have any older gadgets sitting around that you’re not using anymore? Trading them in can get you Amazon credit or a decent discount on your next purchase. Even non-working devices can be eligible, so it’s worth checking.To do that, visit the Trade-In page and choose the category for your device. You can browse by device and model to see what kind of credit you’ll get.Don’t wait until Black Friday to start: Here’s why you need to shop now.Where to find them: Amazon ‘Black Friday-worthy deals’ earlier than ever, kicking off holiday shoppingI have an old 1st Generation Amazon Echo sitting in my garage that powers on and doesn’t have any defects. That will get me a $25 Amazon gift card. Not bad for something I haven’t used in years.Speaking of Alexa, she can do a lot more than tell you the weather. Use the digital assistant to schedule meetings, set reminders and lots more. Tap or click here for 21 Alexa commands you’ll use over and over.2. Request their wish lists nowPlanning is tricky when you have no idea what to gift your family and friends. Instead of digging through text messages later, ask your loved ones to create Amazon wish lists.They can do this through their accounts or your shared family account. To set up a wish list:• Go to your Amazon account page.• Click Create a List in the yellow box. Give it a name and choose Create List.• You can add items directly from this page or on an individual product page.• On a product page, look below the buying options on the right. You’ll see Add to List.• Click the dropdown arrow and choose the correct list.To share a wish list:• Navigate the list page. From the homepage, hover over Accounts & Lists > Your Lists.• At the top, click Send list to others.• Choose View Only or View and Edit. The second option allows someone to add or remove items.• Share by copying the link or via email.Pro tip: New lists are Private by default, but you may have wish lists connected to your profile that are available to anyone who stumbles upon them. Tap or click here and scroll down to No. 3 for steps to secure your wish lists.Holiday shopping: Here’s how to protect yourself onlineOctober is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Take a few minutes to safeguard your data before beginning your holiday shopping online. Here’s how.Marc Saltzman, Special to USA TODAY3. Use up dwindling gift cardsLooking through my wallet and desk drawers, I have a handful of Amazon gift cards with just a few bucks left on them. You might, too. Instead of tossing them out, add them to your account. Hey, every dollar counts.• Find the claim code, usually 14 or 15 characters long and typically contains letters and numbers.• Go to Redeem a Gift Card.• Enter your claim code and select Apply to Your Balance.4. Use coupon codes to save even moreIf you’re shopping on Amazon without using a browser extension or third-party site to help you score discounts, you’re doing it wrong. There are several solid options.• Capital One Shopping provides easy coupon codes that instantly apply to your cart at checkout. You can even get exclusive rewards at your favorite stores and earn credits to redeem for gift cards.• The Camelcamelcamel extension track price drops on Amazon so you don’t have to keep refreshing.• The Honey browser extension can help you search for coupons on products sold by Amazon. It can also auto-apply discounts right when you check out.You can even set a Google Alert if there’s a specific product you’re on the hunt for. Tap or click here and scroll down to “Keep track going forward” for simple steps.5. Get Amazon Prime at a discountAmazon Prime is pricey, especially if you don’t use it much. If you order often, it’s worth it in shipping costs alone. Tap or click for all the other perks that make it worth the money.There are several ways to save a few bucks or even get Amazon Prime for free:• Pay for a year upfront instead of breaking it into monthly payments. A monthly payment of $12.99 will cost you over $150 per year, compared to the one-time $119 charge for an annual subscription.• Buy only a month. If you don’t shop on Amazon much, only keep a subscription for a month or two while you get your shopping done.• If you time it right, you can also get by on a free trial. Tap or click here to try Prime free for 30 days.• Those who qualify can get Prime for just $5.99 per month. This includes people on government assistance programs, such as electronic benefit transfer cardholders. Tap or click here to see if you qualify.Tap or click here for the complete list and direct links to discounted pricing.Now, let’s address spoilers. You don’t want to waste time and cash on a big surprise that gets ruined before you open gifts.6. Hide your searchesThere’s nothing worse than when our tech blabs on us. Take pesky targeted ads. Say I buy my husband a watch. There’s a good chance we’ll both start getting ads for it since we share an IP address. Tap or click here for a simple trick to stop that: Incognito mode.On Amazon.com, your search history may give you away. It’s smart to remove gifts from your browsing history. Hover your cursor over Account & Lists. Under Your Account, click on Browsing History. A list of items you’ve looked at will appear. For each thing that you want to hide, tap Remove from view.You can turn off browsing history altogether, too. At the top of that page, click Manage history. Toggle Browsing History off.While you’re digging around in settings, it’s time to make your account safer. Tap or click for 5 changes to make to your Amazon account.7. Hide your orders, tooOnce you hit buy on a present, you can keep that under wraps, too.Hover your cursor over Account & Lists > Your Account and click on Orders. Find the order you want to hide and click Archive Order. This will remove the item from immediate viewing within your order history.It’s important to note; archived orders can still be viewed by going to the Your Account page and selecting Archived Orders.PRIVACY 101: 8 ways Google constantly invades your privacy – and how to fix itBonus Tip: Digital Life Hacks: Smart digital tips you need to knowCheck out my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, or your favorite podcast player.Over the years, I have made it my mission to share quick tips and advice to make your digital life easier. These are all those clever hacks you won’t find buried in a user manual. In this episode, my team and I share smart new tech know-how, from a safer way to share passwords to turning your handwritten notes digital.Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.