One of the best things about being out of debt (or even not being in debt up to your eyeballs) is that you can occasionally afford to spend a little more upfront to save more on the backend. For example, a few years ago we started a budgeting category (see how to make a budget) to pay our car insurance premiums. Our particular car insurance company offers a $60/year discount if you pay the full amount rather than paying monthly. So by budgeting the full payment/12 each month we are able to save $60 a year.
While it may not sound like much, I see opportunities like this all around me, and as we take advantage of more of them it just allows us to progress faster towards our financial goals. Recently I have been looking for opportunites like this with bulk grocery and household items.
Automate your shopping with Amazon.com
It turns out that Amazon.com sells groceries (mostly dry goods) and many household products as well. So I figured that I could buy some of the products that we purchase month in and month out anyway from them in bulk and at a discounted rate.
Subscribe and Save
After digging in a little, it turns out that in addition to the bulk discount they have a program called Subscribe & Save – which (as the name suggests) allows you to set up a subscription to that particular product (you will have one sent every 1,2,3 or 6 months) and they reward you with an additional 15% discount. Combine that with the time and fuel saved going to grocery store or Target each month and you can start to see how the savings can add up.
I wanted to dig in and do a little comparison shopping to see how the prices stack up. From what I have seen it seems like it would be pretty easy to save a couple hundred dollars a year using Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program.
I did some comparisons vs. my local grocery store and some against Walmart (who prides themselves on low prices). As you can tell below, not every item came out cheaper (against Walmart) using the Subscribe and Save, but some of them came out big winners. And if you factor the cost of your time and fuel costs, etc, you could make a strong argument for Amazon’s program.
Since I am a spreadsheet nerd (as my wife calls me) I created one to compare the costs. You are free to use it on Google Docs here (anyone can edit it, so try not to break it for everyone else ). I used it to calculate the data listed in the table below…
Comparing Amazon’s Subscribe and Save
|Product||Local Grocery Store or Walmart PX/yr||Amazon SnS PX/yr||Annual Savings Using Amazon Subscribe & Save|
|Seventh Generation Dish Liquid||$32.04||$25.82||$6.22|
|Kleenex Facial Tissues||$54.96||$62.63||-$7.67|
|Epson 78 Printer Cartridge||$59.52||$40.47||$19.05|
|Duracell AA Batteries 20-Pack||$21.88||$16.95||$4.93|
|Tide HE Laundry Detergent||$190.32||$112.20||$78.12|
|Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers||$285.29||$195.32||$89.97|
|Bounty Paper Towels||$51.17||$47.06||$4.11|
|Organic Maple Syrup||$132.80||$67.32||$65.48|
|Newman’s Own Organic Raisins||$89.80||$59.76||$30.05|
Costs listed above include shipping costs and are based on my best guess estimates of how much of a particular item we would use in a given year. You can see more of the specifics in the spreadsheet.
My Questions I had about the program
Before signing up I had a few questions that I needed to get answered. You can find many of the answers at Amazon’s Subscribe & Save Page, but here are the answers to my concerns….
- You can cancel your subscription at any time.
- They only charge you when the item ships
- All orders ship for free
- They send you an email before they send the next item, so if you haven’t used up what you have you can adjust (or cancel) your subscription.
After running some numbers we have concluded that we will save hundreds each year using the program (we will be subscribing to more than what is listed above). And almost equally as exciting to me is the fact that in some cases it will save me a trip to Target and that I don’t have to think about buying toilet paper ever again.
If it sounds like something you might be interested in, I recommend checking out some of the eligible Subscribe & Save items and using the spreadsheet to see what kind of savings it would yield for you.