It’s not often we find a way to save money and make your life easier, but when we do, we get excited.
When we heard about Amazon’s best-kept secret, Subscribe and Save, we thought to ourselves, “Our LV Moms just have to know about this!”
In a nutshell, Subscribe and Save is a service from Amazon that delivers items to your door on a regular basis. It can cut down on trips to the store, plus save you up to 30% on the items you run through the quickest, like diapers, toilet paper and even organic fruit snacks.
Could this new service, which has been flying way under the radar, improve your life? We did some digging.
Pro: No More Diaper (or Paper Towel or Dog Food) Schlepping
If you’ve ever decided to skip your gym workout after ferrying two jugs of orange juice, a 15-pound bag of dog food, ten soup cans and a wriggling three-year-old home from the grocery store, you’ll understand the appeal of having all that show up at your front door (well, except for the three-year-old). With no charge for shipping. We especially like this for urban moms, who might not have the use of an SUV for hauling supplies back home.
Pro: Set It and Forget It
Amazon Subscribe and Save lets you sign up for recurring shipments of household basics at intervals of one to six months. Many mothers might be nervous about setting up a recurring shipment in case they unwittingly end up with five cases of baby food, but Amazon isn't sneaky about it. Before every shipment you get a courtesy email, so you can pop into your account to change anything or even cancel the order altogether. You won’t be charged until your items ship.
Pro: Impressive Discounts
Free shipping and an automatic discount of up to 15% on all items can add up to some serious savings. The program also regularly runs deals on lots of specific items so you can snatch them up for huge discounts. What makes it even more compelling is that you can stack your Amazon Mom discount (learn about this and sign up here) on top, which would give you an extra 20% off diapers and wipes and 15% off almost everything else.
Pro: Variety of Choices
The days of Amazon selling just books and movies are long gone. Among the items eligible for Subscribe and Save, you'll find organic and conventional groceries, office supplies, cleaning supplies, baby products and beauty supplies. (Pet products, unfortunately, are pretty slim pickings right now.) Because everything you buy has to be shippable, however, you’ll still need to pick up things like fresh produce, eggs and bread in person from the store. You can't win 'em all.
How Do You Save on Family Stuff?
What tips and tricks do you use to save money throughout the year? Have you used Amazon Subscribe and Save? What was your experience?
Pro: Stay Away From Temptation
If you’ve ever come home from the grocery store with a trunk full of doughnuts, tabloids and other impulse buys, Subscribe and Save is a great way to stay firmly on budget and within your shopping list. Searching digitally will shield you from the tempting smell of the bakery, and your child from the candy at the checkout counter.
Pro: Save Gas and TIme
Also remember that you'll be saving on gas by avoiding a trip to the store. And, of course, you'll also be saving time. To find out how much your time is worth, use this calculator. To figure out how much you spend per hour on gas when you're driving around, use this calculator.
Con: Not the Guaranteed Lowest Price
Because everyone prices their items differently, the Subscribe and Save discounts might not make everything on your list a better deal than you'd find at Target, Walmart or Costco. Using the Amazon Mom discount on top of the Subscribe and Save discount will tip wipes and diapers over into “great deal” territory, but you’ll want to comparison shop for the best price on everything else. We recommend checking in every month to see how prices compare.
A New York Times writer compared his particular basket of goods from Amazon and Costco and found a 17% lower price overall at Costco (though that's related to the fact that Costco requires buying in bulk). One trick is to stay away from heavy items that are costlier to ship when using Amazon, like economy-sized detergent, because—even though shipping is free with Subscribe and Save—it seems that Amazon builds the higher shipping cost into product prices.
Con: Prices Change Without Warning
Amazon’s prices fluctuate regularly, so the system will update the price of your items before shipping them out ... without updating you. That’s great if Amazon happens to run a special on something that is on your list. But if the price goes up on an item, you risk paying more than you expected. Make sure to check the prices on all your items when you get the confirmation email before each shipment.
Also note that if you start a recurring shipment of something because there was a one-time discount, the price will go back up to normal moving forward.
The Final Word
If you're an urban mom without a big suburban car, we say you should sign up! The savings on time, money and schlepping big packs of diapers and other supplies are worth it. In fact, we think the only moms for whom Subscribe and Save doesn't work best are the relentless comparison shoppers with time for thorough shopping trips and handfuls of coupons.
Otherwise, Subscribe and Save should make life easier and cheaper. Can't argue with that!
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