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.
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.
Target sells this for $22.99.
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.
This normally sells for around $5.00-$6.00.
Okay, I confess, this one isn’t for me. It’s for my pet bunny. Wal-Mart sells this for $4.68+tax.
This retails for $3.00-$4.00.
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!)