It’s no secret that I love shopping at Amazon.com. I’m a busy woman, and I love that I can get just about everything delivered right to my door. I even have an Amazon Visa card, which essentially gives me cash back that I can use at Amazon. I also like a bargain and I do my best to balance convenience with getting the best deal I can. One service that Amazon.com offers is Subscribe and Save. If there are items you find yourself regularly ordering from Amazon, you may be able to subscribe to regular deliveries of those items. But what is the downside of Amazon’s Subscribe and Save?
How does Subscribe and Save Work?
You’ve probably noticed when you add some products to your cart, you can do a one time purchase or you can “Subscribe & Save.”
By subscribing, you automatically save 5%. You can have these items delivered at intervals from monthly to every six months. If you subscribe to have five items delivered in a shipment, you save 15% on each of those items. So it’s definitely worth putting at least five items on Subscribe and Save.
Find that you’re not running out of something as fast as you thought you would? You can shift that delivery later without penalty. You can also schedule a delivery to come earlier if you need.
Some popular items on Subscribe and Save are things like cleaning products, paper products, diapers, and pet food.
What is the Downside to Amazon’s Subscribe and Save?
Anytime you force yourself into buying a certain number of things on a certain schedule, you’re risking spending more than you would have otherwise.
One of the examples I gave above was diapers. If you aren’t careful, you could find that your child has outgrown the size you have on order, or is nearing outgrowing that size and you would be better off going to a local store and picking up a smaller package.
Let’s say you’ve got an order of five things coming monthly, but you find that you really only need four of them this month. You can delay the fifth item without any trouble, but then you lose your 15% off. So you think to yourself that it’s worth it to get all five, and you’ll just be a bit stocked up on that fifth item. And sure, sometimes that’s worth it, especially if the fifth item isn’t something that’s going to go bad. But what happens if that fifth item is, say, a hair product that you find you really aren’t using. What if it’s a snack food that your kids no longer want to eat as frequently? Suddenly, things start to go to waste. So you have to plan smart. I have definitely made this mistake in the past and ended up with things getting thrown out.
You also have to be aware of price changes. Yes, you will still get your 5%-15% off, but it’s always possible that the price of your items will rise and you won’t notice before the shipment.
How to Make Subscribe and Save Work For You
If you only have two or three items that you really want to put on Subscribe and Save, but you really want that 15% off, you can find some inexpensive Subscribe and Save fillers to add that are under $5, frequently personal care items or household cleaners. No, if an item is only $5, saving 15% doesn’t make it that much cheaper, but if you’re also ordering some more expensive items, it could be worth it. Again, though, make sure that inexpensive item is worth it, or you’re not really saving much.
Just sit down and do the math. If I have four items and need a fifth and I add on a $5 bottle of body wash to get my 15% off, I’m spending an additional $4.25 to ensure my discount. If I’m going to use that body wash, it might be worth it, regardless of total savings. But let’s say my other items only total $60. Going from 5% to 15% savings only nets me an additional $6 in savings. Yes, spending $4.25 to get $6 is still saving money, but the savings isn’t as great, and if that body wash goes to waste, it’s really not a great value at all.
Also, remember that you aren’t locking in your prices. If the prices at Amazon change, you will be paying those changed prices. That might mean your items are cheaper, but they might be getting more expensive, so be sure to pay attention before your shipments are locked in.
If you can take the time to look at your shipments before they arrive, you can likely avoid the downside to Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. But that might take away some of the convenience.