How to Save Lots of Time and Money: Hacking Your Everyday Necessities

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for awhile, because it’s something that has really changed a lot of the recurring purchases I make.

One of my primary criticisms against coupons was that there is a continuous time investment that can put you into a mindset of “saving mode” instead of “earning mode.”

What I’m going to discuss today is very different – it’s something I’ve implemented in my life that actually saves me both time and money. It’s not for everyone, so you need to decide if this is something you want to implement for yourself.

I’ve been a fan of Amazon.com for years, even before I was ever part of their affiliate program. Often having the best price for whatever product you want, you can typically find ways to get free shipping and (depending on where you live) not be charged sales tax.

(Side note: Even if Amazon doesn’t charge you sales tax, you’re supposed to voluntarily calculate the sales tax you would have been charged, and remit it to your state government, if you’re in the U.S. Few people actually do this, and it’s sometimes viewed as a gray area in the law, but this is what you’re technically supposed to do.)

But then, I came across Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” program. Minutes later, I was set up with all my life’s essentials, scheduled to be shipped to me when I need them (shipping = free), for less than I would pay at my local grocery or convenience store.

By the way, there’s no cost to using “Subscribe and Save” (vs. buying products normally) but there are additional benefits if you are a member of Amazon Prime (which I’ll explain below).

Although I wanted to write this post for general awareness (for those of you who may not know about this program), I’m going to tell you specifically what I’ve ordered and how much I’ve paid.

Step #1: Get Amazon Prime or at Least Try the 1-Month Free Trial

If you don’t use Amazon very often, it may not be worth paying for Amazon Prime ($79/year). For me, it’s worth it due to the following reasons:

  • Free 2-day shipping on tons of items without a minimum order size – I use this a ton. Recently, I needed a new toy to donate to a toy drive, and Amazon had a special deal on the one I wanted ($6). Ordered it free shipping on a Wednesday, had it by Friday. Oh, and it normally retails for $20; it was win-win.
  • Unlimited, free streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video – although this used to be lacking, now I would say that the selection rivals Netflix. It’s still not quite as good as Netflix, but considering Netflix streaming is $8.99/mo. (vs. Prime, which comes out to $6.58/mo.), this value alone could be worth having Prime.
  • Free Amazon Mom membership – I’m not a mom (nor a parent), but fortunately, anyone can join this. If you have Prime and sign up to Amazon Mom, you get a bonus 5% discount on your “Subscribe and Save” purchases, which I will explain further below. There are also other benefits, such as discounted diapers and wipes, but I don’t need those at the moment. :)

Prime may not be for you, but a 30-day free trial is for everyone. Click here to get your free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime and see if it’s worth it for you (or at least take advantage of one month of the “Subscribe and Save” benefits I’m going to explain below).

Step #2: Set Up Subscribe & Save (And Here’s Exactly What I’ve Subscribed To)

The beauty of Subscribe & Save is two-fold:

1) You save time (don’t have to go to the store for the same products you tend to buy weekly/monthly/bi-monthly/etc.). You get to choose how often a product ships, and you can cancel at any time (no fees or anything hidden). And let’s say you didn’t use as much toilet paper as you thought you would in a given month – you can simply skip your next shipment and you won’t be charged.

2) You save money.

Saving time is easy to understand, but saving money requires a little bit of explanation.

Not only can you take advantage of Amazon’s already-low pricing (for most products), but you can save up to 20% with Subscribe & Save. Here’s how it works:

  • If you subscribe to any product (that offers subscription), you automatically get 5% off.
  • If you subscribe to 5 or more products for a given delivery (i.e. 5 products on the same monthly or however often delivery cycle), you save a total of 15% off all the products included in that shipment.
  • If you are a member of Amazon Mom (which is free with Amazon Prime, as explained above), you get an additional 5% off, bringing your total savings on everything in the shipment to 20%. This is pretty awesome.

It may help to illustrate the savings if I show you exactly what I’m subscribed to right now. Note that, depending on when you look at these products, the prices you see may be different than the ones I received when I subscribed.

My Subscriptions

Here are the items I’m currently subscribed to.  Because I have 5+ products set to come in the same shipment, I’m taking advantage of the 20% off discount.

Angel Soft Toilet Paper Rolls (48 pack)

Target sells this for $22.99.

Dove Men Deodorant (2-Pack)

At retail, one of these stick of deodorant is typically $4.50-$5.50 each.  With this deal, I’m getting them for $2.79 each.

Axe Armor 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner

This normally sells for around $5.00-$6.00.

Kaytee Timothy Hay

Okay, I confess, this one isn’t for me. It’s for my pet bunny.  Wal-Mart sells this for $4.68+tax.

Colgate Optic White Toothpaste

This retails for $3.00-$4.00.

Kaytee Supreme Food for Rabbit (10 lb.)

Again, this one’s not for me… PETCO (where I used to buy this) sells it for around $10 + tax.

In addition to the above, I did have paper towel rolls included in my last shipment.  I ordered them forgetting that we had a bunch in the house already, so I’ve taken them out of my regular subscriptions for now, until our supply runs low again (probably in March or so).  But paper towels are a great one to subscribe to if your family uses them – here’s one I would subscribe to right now if I needed them:

The full price is $16.99.  If you’re getting 20% off with the subscription, that drops it down to $13.59.  Also, your first order for this product includes a $1.50 coupon (many of these products have coupons periodically), which drops it further to $12.09.   Target currently sells this for $14.99.  So, clearly some easy savings here.

Bonus: Subscribing to Razor Blades (for Shaving)

This one doesn’t come from Amazon (although you could easily subscribe to razors on Amazon and save money), but I’m going to discuss this one because it’s one of my favorite subscriptions.

Every month, I get 5 razor blades from Dollar Shave Club.  With your first shipment, they give you a free handle for the razor blades.

The basic, 2-blade razors come as a 5-pack for $1/month (+$2 shipping).  This is what I use, and honestly, I think they work very well.

I used to always buy the Gillette razor blades and would spend a fortune on them.  For $3/month, I’ve been using Dollar Shave Club for the past year.  I hope they stick around forever, because as long as I’m shaving, I can’t ever see cancelling this.

They also have more advanced razors (4-blade razors for $6/mo., and 6-blade razors for $9/mo., both with free shipping)., but I haven’t tried these.  I assume they’re good.

If you want to read more about Dollar Shave Club (yes, I’m an affiliate), you can check it out here.

What Do You Think?

That’s about everything I can say for my experience with subscribing to some of the essential products that I purchase on a regular basis.

Is there anything else you like to subscribe to?  Share in the comments!

(By the way, if you enjoyed this article…I’d really appreciate a tweet or share on Facebook!)

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29 Responses to “How to Save Lots of Time and Money: Hacking Your Everyday Necessities”

  1. Eric,

    Great post! I actually didn’t know about Amazon Mom’s 5% discount, though I’ve used Subscribe & Save for over a year now.

    The best way I’ve found to use it is by going through our pantry and bathrooms with my laptop and seeing if what’s in our house is on Subscribe & Save; a ton of items are on there!

    I’d definitely add coffee to your list–they even have green beans I can roast myself!

    The biggest thing that this programs saves though is time. Grocery store trips are a lot shorter when you have these items coming in automatically.

    George
    George Smolinski recently posted… If You’re Not Mapping Out Your Day, You’re Missing Out on Huge Productivity Gains

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks George! Yes, definitely take advantage of that extra 5% if you can.

    Also, great tip on the coffee – if they had what I typically drink, I would certainly be subscribing to that.

    [Reply]

  2. Great post with ONE caveat: Amazon Prime is useless to the 95% of the human population who DON’T reside in the US.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for pointing that out, AJ. As someone in the US, I can’t speak for those outside the US, but definitely good to know!

    [Reply]

  3. Similar to what George said above, that is exactly how we approached this in my household. With the new year upon us soon, there isn’t a better time to consider doing this. Right now, we have my wife’s prenatal vitamins, and a few other odds and ends, set up this way.

    As far as razors, I’ve heard of Dollar Shave Club. Admittedly, I’ve never actually used them. One of the best (and biggest) savings we’ve been able to incur has been from switching from Gilette/Schick razors (for me) and Silk razors (for my wife), to a company called Dorco. Though their name is ODD, I can tell you Eric, my jaw just about dropped when I saw their prices. I thought it was a scam…..for what I was paying in packs of razor head refill/replacements ($30-50), I was able to purchase purchase a stock, for less, that lasted me far longer.

    For Dorco’s 6-blade razor system, not only was it less expensive than paying insanely for those packs of replacement heads, but it IS one of the best shaves I’ve ever head. Not even that, but one head alone last me quite a while without noticeable wear to the top.
    Howie @ A Warrior and A Nurse recently posted… 1,001 Top Best Killer Timeless Internet Marketing-Related Blog Posts You Must Read to Succeed (Blog Posts #1 to #10) — Part #1

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Howie. I haven’t heard of ODD, but I’ll check ‘em out. It’s amazing how much of a ripoff standard retail razor blades are.

    [Reply]

  4. Eric,

    I meant the company is “Dorco”…but, their name sounds “odd”. Definitely check them out sometime.

    When I made the purchase that I have literally been using for the last 6 months now, I purchased the actual razor/system, which came in a container with 2 additional blades, for under $6. In the same shipment, I added 4 packs (with 4 blades each=16 total razor heads) for something like $22. This was for the 6-blade system.

    I’m pretty sure, at the time, I tracked down a 20-30% discount coupon from their Facebook page. I rarely promote anything this adamantly, but I also threw in a similar purchase for their women’s 6-blade razor system. Everything all together was around $50 or less.
    Howie @ A Warrior and A Nurse recently posted… 1,001 Top Best Killer Timeless Internet Marketing-Related Blog Posts You Must Read to Succeed (Blog Posts #1 to #10) — Part #1

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    My bad Howie – I must’ve been tired when I read your comment and thought the name was “ODD”.

    At any rate, I’ll have to check that out – thanks!

    [Reply]

  5. Great stuff, however only valid for if you happen to live in the USA. Which is not my case. Unless Amazon is geting serious abt their drone delivery thing.. that would be realy awesome…

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Good point, Pieter. And yes, the drone delivery thing looks really interesting…

    [Reply]

  6. I didn’t know about Amazon Mom. I just signed up and I’m setting up my first monthly subscription order with Subscribe & Save. Thanks!
    Bethanny Parker recently posted… Fearless Forecast: 7 Best SEO Techniques for 2014

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Awesome, thanks for the comment Bethanny!

    [Reply]

  7. The Shave Club. Genius! Thanks Eric & Merry Christmas.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Chris, same to you!

    [Reply]

  8. excellent stuff but the coupon only valid in USA sso amazone coupon not important for me..
    neeraj kumar recently posted… HORN OK PLEASE MP3 LYRICS – Yo Yo Honey Singh

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Sorry Neeraj – yes, a lot of the Amazon stuff is applicable to the US only, but at the rate they are growing, it’s only a matter of time before they are truly global with all of their services.

    [Reply]

  9. Eric

    Thanks for the heads up on Subscribe and Save as I have been contemplating joining Amazon Prime.

    I use and love Dollar Shave club as well (I use the $6/month version). One item folks may want to know about with DSC is you can have them delivered every 2 months if you don’t go through blades that fast. It is also super easy to change or cancel your orders so there is no worries about getting locked in.

    -fellow accountant/CPA dabbling in online marketing

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Dave. Good point about DSC – I actually used to do the once-every-two-month plan and just changed my blade less frequently, but then I realized, why not replace the blades more often?

    It’s a more comfortable shave, and it really doesn’t cost much more.

    [Reply]

  10. There are free shipping which I recall and have to take these steps :D
    Thanks man!
    kingarthur recently posted… Near Hartford, CT – 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Vs Dodge Dart

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thank you for the comment!

    [Reply]

  11. Eric you should really start posting more, I used to read your blog all the time and I almost forgot about you due to your lack of posting lol
    Dionne recently posted… Secrets to Success: Stop Focusing on Results

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I know, I’ve only been blogging 2-3 times per month lately, and I wish I was doing more. You’ll see a lot more from me soon, when my new site launches next month.

    Thanks for the comment Dionne!

    [Reply]

  12. I’ll give a strong “second” vote to Dollar Shave Club.
    I hate shaving. Even more, I hate these multi-blade razors and the out-landish prices the companies charge. Oh, no one really likes them, we’ll remove the old 2-blade razors….
    grrrr
    Dollar shave club is really cool, customer-focused, and the product is good. Highly recommended!
    Jon Patrick recently posted… MyFUNLife Sizzle Weeks Amazeball Travel Savings!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for adding your thoughts, Jon – I agree with everything you said!

    [Reply]

  13. I didn’t know you could subscribe to amazon like that, but the discounts seem pretty nice! I currently don’t live in a country with an amazon, so I don’t know if it would be available, but I plan to in the future and this could be something to consider.
    Pau recently posted… Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Sorry to hear you don’t have access to Amazon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they expand to where you live in the future!

    [Reply]

  14. Amazon gives fair discount on products. I wish India had amazon too.
    Sneha Rana recently posted… FCI Management Trainee Exam Result 2013 – FCI Results

    [Reply]

  15. Paragrah 10 states, “You will not…make any other public communication with respect to…your participation in the Program.” yet we all do and “it’s sometimes viewed as a gray area in the law, but this is what you’re technically supposed to do.” LOL!
    Just messing with you.
    Great blog post today. And a good example of how to make our lives better, easier and save a little cash along the way.
    Troy recently posted… Invicta Men’s 8926 Pro Diver Collection Automatic Watch

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Troy!

    [Reply]

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The owner of this website, Eric, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking http://www.my4hrworkweek.com to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.

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