A Busy Mom’s Guide to Amazon Subscribe & Save

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2789374419_5808a88213_qI often wonder how my parents managed to raise a family without the one, crucial tool I use every day: Amazon.com. If I realize at 8pm that my 3-year old outgrew the shoes I bought him just a month ago? I hop on Amazon from my smartphone and order a new pair in 5 minutes. That same toddler absconded with the ear pads from Daddy’s wireless headphones? I order a replacement before my husband has time to complain . . . too much.

I finally got wise to Amazon Prime two years ago so I now enjoy free 2-day shipping and instant streaming of movies and TV, but it took me a while to try out an Amazon service that has changed the way I shop for household items: Subscribe & Save.

Initially, I was hesitant to try Subscribe and Save. I’m old enough to remember those CD clubs where you’d sign up for a monthly subscription and wind up getting charged for stuff you don’t want and have to jump through hoops to get your membership cancelled. I was worried I’d get locked into a commitment that would cost me more money than I wanted to spend, or lose my parking space in the garage because I’d wind up with 5,000 rolls of paper towels where my car should go. Fortunately, I was wrong. After giving Subscribe & Save a try for a few months, I’ve found it’s a great way to save time, money, and trips to the store.

If you are an Amazon Prime member (and who isn’t these days?), you can select from thousands of items to be delivered to your home on a regular basis (anywhere from monthly to every six months). You save 5% on your Subscribe & Save items, but any month where you have at least five Subscribe & Save items coming to your house, you’ll get a 15% discount. And if you sign up for Amazon Mom by providing your child’s first name and birth date, the savings is bumped up to 20% off of diapers and wipes.

Amazon offers literally thousands of products through Subscribe and Save: household cleaning products, personal care, pet supplies, candy and snacks, breakfast cereal, bath & body products, vitamins and supplements, protein powders, coffee and tea, OTC medicine, automotive products, even office and craft supplies. I currently have various schedules for delivery of k-cups, Kleenex, paper towels, face wash, toothbrushes, deodorant, KIND bars, and GoGo Squeez. That’s enough variety that there are at least five items in every bundle, so I’ll save 15% on that month’s subscription.

If you’re like me and worry about winding up with enough Kleenex to handle the entire neighborhood’s allergy season, have no fear. Amazon will send you an email a few days before your shipment is due to go out, giving you enough time to make any changes necessary. I initially signed up to have a 15-roll package of paper towels delivered every 3 months, but my family didn’t go through as much as I thought. When my reminder email arrived, I slowed down the delivery to every six months and had plenty of time to select another item to round out my order. I do wind up with a small backlog of items, but having a small store on hand is definitely preferable to realizing I’ve run out of toilet paper in the middle of a busy week.

Another handy tip is, if you are under five items, you can add a filler item. A filler item is a low-priced product under $5. The savings of increasing your discount from 5% to 15% is definitely worth adding the extra item. A good filler item might be dental floss or a lip balm.

Amazon always has digital coupons for select items posted on the Subscribe & Save home page, which can be applied to your order, increasing your savings. As I’m writing this, they have a limited time offer of 30% off of your first subscription of household essentials including  dishwasher detergent tabs, disinfecting wipes, and freezer storage bags.

There are no commitments, obligations, or fees with Amazon Subscribe & Save. You can cancel at any time prior to the order’s shipment. The one caveat is that Amazon prices can and do change and Amazon is not obligated to notify you if the cost of your Subscribe & Save item has increased. I always review the prices when I receive my reminder email and can switch to a cheaper brand or apply coupons as needed.

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