5 Ways You Save More with Amazon Subscribe and Save

by Ann Marie Michaels on June 14, 2013

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5 Ways You Save More with Amazon Subscribe & Save

This year, I finally abandoned Costco for Amazon Subscribe and Save. Why? Because I realized that I save time, I save more money, and it makes my life so much easier.

I’ve been an Amazon Prime member for years, but I only started using Amazon Subscribe & Save. (Thanks to my good friend, Emily Bartlett of Holistic Squid.)

I heard Amazon Subscribe & Save years ago, but I was scared to try it. I was worried that if I subscribed, I’d forget and end up with too much stuff and have boxes everywhere that I had to return. But Amazon makes it really easy to keep track of what you subscribe to, and the interface makes it easy to cancel or hold a subscription at any time.

How To Use Amazon Subscribe and Save

Here’s how it works. Think of an item that you buy over and over again. Like paper towels, maple syrup, that kind of thing. If you’re buying it in bulk (i.e. a case of something) look for something that has a long shelf life and you can store in a cupboard or in the garage. Like natural soda pop, batteries, paper towels, dog food.

Now, go to Amazon Subscribe & Save and start shopping. The shipping is FREE (you don’t have to be a Prime member). You just have to have 5 items in your Shop & Save delivery, in order to save 15%.

5 Ways You Save More with Amazon Subscribe and Save

1. Save 15% on Everything

For starters, you save 15% with Amazon Subscribe & Save (you just need 5 items in your order).

The savings on most items are comparable with Costco or other warehouse stores. Not all items will be as cheap as Costco all the time, but scroll down to number 5 and see why you should not concern yourself with details like these.

2. Get Only What You Need

Ever hear that joke about shopping at Target? You go in for one thing. Maybe you just need some batteries or shampoo. You come out with a cart full of stuff. And you end up spending $200.

This is one of the ways retail stores make money. They design their store displays to tempt you to buy more.

With Amazon Subscribe & Save, you only buy what you need, not what you’re manipulated into picking up.

3. No More Driving Around to Multiple Stores

I’m not one of those people who buys whatever they have at the regular grocery store. I have to get the grain-free cat food (because cats are carnivores and should not be eating grain). I have to get organic coffee beans (coffee beans are one of the most heavily sprayed crops). I only buy olive oil potato chips, not the chips at the store fried in unhealthy soybean oil.

So if I want to get what I want, that means multiple stores. And a lot of time driving. Time I don’t want to waste! Not to mention the wasted gas.

Nowadays, I automate everything I can. Why should I waste time driving around to the pet store for cat food, to Costco for paper towels and toilet paper, to the health food store for organic coffee beans, and to the grocery store for olive oil potato chips? I can get all of these things shipped for FREE, directly to my front door, with Amazon Subscribe & Save.

4. Less Stuff on My Shopping List

Why reinvent the wheel every week, writing up a new grocery list? There are so many things we buy over and over again. Why not just have them on repeat? It makes no sense to go to the store to buy paper towels when you can have them on autoship.

“Auto Ship, Out of Mind” is the way I like to think about it. And the less I have to juggle in my brain, the better. It’s hard enough trying to remember that I have to make a pasta salad for Katie’s martial arts class potluck on Saturday and that I need to buy flip flops for my vacation and get a passport picture made.

Too much stuff rolling around up in there! Now the paper towels and kitty litter are no longer taking up my precious brain space. They are relegated to the bowels of Amazon’s database.

5. Amazon Subscribe and Save is Always Cheaper When You Factor in Your Time

You might be saying to yourself, but hey, I can find stuff on sale locally and it’s cheaper than the items on Amazon Subscribe & Save. Or maybe you see one item that is cheaper at Costco than it is on Subscribe and Save.

Yes, that’s true… But I am making the argument that Amazon Subscribe and Save is always cheaper when you factor in one thing: your time.

Remember in your college economics class when they covered “opportunity costs”?

Opportunity cost – The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action.

Whenever you decide to do something, you cut yourself off from being able to do something else. You are losing out on something.

The opportunity cost of shopping at Costco is you lose 1-2 hours of your life every time you go.

Let’s just say you earn $20 per hour. And say you go to Costco once a month and spend a total of 2 hours driving there, shopping, and driving home. That’s $40/month. And almost $500/year.

And that’s just Costco! What about the grocery store, pet store, health food store, and so on? Not to mention the time you spend thinking about looking for sales or clipping coupons.

You could easily save 5-10 hours per month just by automating rote, repeated purchases via Amazon Subscribe & Save. Ten hours a month times $20 = $200/month, or $2,400 per year.

Just think of what you could do with an extra $2,400 per year. A family vacation? More money in savings? Pay off your credit card?

Yes, some of you may be saying, “But where do I get the extra money from the time I saved?” You could always start an Etsy or E-Bay store to earn extra money, or pick up a part-time job, or start a sideline small business (everyone should consider doing that, just for the tax breaks alone!) I go into a lot more detail about this in my other post, Top 10 Ways to Save Money on Real Food.

Want To Know What I Buy on Amazon Subscribe & Save?

I’ll be posting my Subscribe & Save next week. Check back!

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan June 14, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Dang, Sister!! You are on fire today with these posts!! :) Joking aside, it’s been fun having regular stuff in my email again. I missed your posts!


Ann Marie Michaels June 14, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Thanks! I’m trying!


Summer June 14, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Big fan of Subscribe and Save, but would like to point out that your opportunity cost at Costco is only 40$ if you would have spent that time actually working and earning that amount. My husband has tried this logic on me and I stump him by pointing out that he wouldn’t actually be working during that time anyway. So maybe Costco is still a good idea for some. I like to buy gas there.


Kristen @ Food Renegade June 14, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Even if your time isn’t equaling money, there’s still an opportunity cost involved.

The 2 hours you spend at Costco is 2 hours you could have spent doing something else — playing with your kids, volunteering at church, fixing stuff around the house, you name it. Whatever it is, you’re not doing it because instead your going to Costco.

So, ask yourself what those things are worth to you? Are they worth the $4 extra you might spend buying something through Subscribe & Save instead of Costco? If yes, then the same point still applies.

Time may not always equal money, but it certainly equals TIME. And that is certainly valuable (in more ways than one).


Julie June 17, 2013 at 6:03 AM

You don’t have to be a Costco member to buy gas there, at least in NY State.


KJ June 14, 2013 at 5:56 PM

Love Amazon Prime and Subscribe & Save! My husband and I don’t have a car, so tend to do a lot of shopping online. It’s good that you pointed out the fact that you really aren’t making a big commitment when you subscribe. You get an email warning that a shipment is going to go out and you can just cancel it or postpone it if you don’t need/want the item at that time.

I’m interested in hearing what people buy with Subscribe & Save! I have used it for canned seafood (tuna, sardines, oysters), coconut oil, and coconut milk. I don’t do much baking, but if I did, I would probably use it for gluten free or sprouted flour.


Ann Marie Michaels June 14, 2013 at 9:24 PM

I have my blog post all lined up. I’m curious to hear what people will share as well — I’m looking forward to getting more ideas!


Jesse M June 14, 2013 at 6:16 PM

I have just started using this last month and really excited. Would also like to hear what you and others are buying through the s&s store :)


Karen June 14, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Costco question for you – Now everything you are saying makes perfect sense to me and I am contemplating ditching our Costco membership as well… I never buy food from there as they don’t carry enough organic items for my taste BUT the only reason why we keep up our membership is for the toilet paper! I like not having to buy small batches of TP constantly and I Love having the HUGE jumbo size package and keeping the extras in the basement… If we ditched our membership then I’d love to find a comparable sized option on Amazon. What brand do you use? This is the determining factor! Ha-ha! Thanks so much for your input!


Susan June 14, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Oh my goodness! I clung to our Costco membership for the same reason you are….toilet paper! But, we haven’t been members for over a year now and I really don’t miss it. I’m going to look into subscibe & save, but really I’ve found it easy to just pick it up at Wal-mart the 2 or 3 times I’m in there a year (yes, a year).

I haven’t really missed Costco, but most likely because it simply got to the point that I couldn’t take going in there and seeing what people had in their carts. Not just the food because that would make me crazy every time, but the pure gluttony of the entire store. How much stuff do people need? I still find things we bought at Costco, used once or twice, and then put away in a closet to be forgotten about. Life is better simple!


Kathleen June 14, 2013 at 7:55 PM

This is what I order and I check for coupons right before they send out my shipment.


Kathleen June 14, 2013 at 7:06 PM

I totally agree!! So many of my friends and family members love Costco, but it totally stresses me out. I feel overwhelmed every time I’ve ever been there (same with Home Depot) and can’t wait to get out! And it’s just not a bargain for our family. There really aren’t that many things we could eat from there, anyway. And I hate going to multiple places. Everything you said! LOVE Suscribe & Save. Love it. And love your blog.


Ann Marie Michaels June 14, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Thanks, Kathleen. I feel the same way about Costco — STRESS! And yeah, we got enough of that, thanks very much! :-)


Cheryl P June 14, 2013 at 8:59 PM

Some nice arguments for Subscribe and Save :) I still won’t be ditching Costco but I’ll look into price comparisons for S&S. Since I live right across the main street from Costco (it’s closer to my home than any actual grocery store!) it definitely saves me $. It’s also the cheapest place in town to buy gas (sometimes second-cheapest but that one’s across town). And just cuz it hits me where I live, not all of us can start sideline businesses or run etsy shops, etc. I already work from home cuz I can’t do anything else; and I’m at my absolute max mentally and physically for what I can do. Just thinking about what it would take from me mentally to try to do something else for additional income (altho’ I desperately need it!) makes me go blank and sends my anxiety level skyrocketing. Just can’t happen. :( That said, I’m gonna look into S&S. I do have revolving expenses, and I already buy bulk on things that last me 3-4 months at a time. If I can save money, it would be great! :)


Annie June 14, 2013 at 9:04 PM

Thanks Kathleen,

Here is an example of what I buy at Costco.
I just checked one of my big Quilted Northern Ultra plush package from Costco.
Costco- 36 jumbo rolls 3 ply = 109 regular rolls..267 3ply sheets per roll.
I think I paid about $20.00..
It does say 20% free..
This is another big package from Costco I have here.
This one is not 20% more.
Quilted northern Ultra Plush.
30 Jumbo rolls = 91 regular.
267 3 ply Sheets per roll.
I think I also paid about $20.00 from Costco.
This is your website from Amazon.
Amazon- , $19.46 for 36 Double Rolls = 72 Regular Rolls
176 sheets per roll
Packaged in an easy-to-open box

To me it looks like for the same amount Costco is giving more per sheet in a roll !!


Annie June 14, 2013 at 9:14 PM

Oppss, and more paper for then Amazon!


Lisa June 19, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Does anybody know how this compares in Canada? I’m really interested in this idea, but usually I can’t find the same products on Amazon.ca


Tracey June 20, 2013 at 5:54 PM

THANKS!!! I just returned to Subscribe & Save and now I’m going through my garage and house to see what I can automate. Gotta stay out of the stores! If I notice I’m spending $300 on Amazon then I say WHOA! But if I load up the cart at Costco or Walmart or wherever…do I put it all back when I get to the front? Nope! So THANKS for saving me money :) :)


Allison June 21, 2013 at 2:14 PM

What about all the packaging?? I love buying online, but I hate all the boxes and packaging materials that comes with it – it totally stresses me out! Because like most of us who read this blog, I don’t use paper or plastic bags when I can help it. I know the packaging can be recycled, but still that’s really not as good as reusing. Anyone justify the packaging of a regular shipment somehow?



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