UPDATE 12/6/2014: Since I originally wrote this post, Amazon has made some changes to the Amazon Mom program. Most notably, the 20% discount for Subscribe and Save orders of five items or more has been eliminated, and the maximum discount is now 15%. Amazon Mom members can still receive 20% off diaper subscriptions (no matter how many other subscriptions you do or do not have), but the maximum discount on baby wipes is 15%. I think a 15% discount is still a great deal, and the shopping strategies I outline below will still help you get that extra savings.
Five years ago, when my oldest son was a baby, I didn’t find Amazon to be very competitive for baby supplies like diapers or formula. I saved the most money by clipping coupons and occasionally driving out to the nearest baby store to stock up during a sale.
Now, with my oldest in school and a baby to take care of, it’s far less convenient to make trips to the store, not to mention keeping track of coupons and sales flyers.
Luckily, I found that Amazon’s prices on baby essentials have improved greatly, and their additional savings opportunities help me beat the prices of other places I might shop.
Amazon Subscribe & Save
Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program allows consumers to have products of their choosing automatically delivered to their doors at an interval they specify (ranging from monthly to every 6 months). Subscriptions are automatically discounted by 5% off the regular Amazon.com price.
One of my favorite aspects of the program is that there is no commitment whatsoever–you can cancel a subscription at any time. If you find a great deal and just want that extra 5% off, you can subscribe and then cancel right after the first delivery. They don’t make cancellation tricky, either–it’s as simple as logging into your account and clicking a button.
If you find several items you’d like to subscribe to, you can save even more than 5%; subscribe to five items with the same delivery date, and Amazon will take 15% off each item.
Note: As of November 11, 2014, Amazon has made changes to the Amazon Mom program. I have crossed out the information that no longer applies.
Amazon Mom is a free program that provides a variety of perks for members, most notably an automatic 20% off diaper
and wipes subscriptions. It also sweetens the five-item Subscribe & Save discount to 20% off all items instead of the usual 15%.
Even though other baby needs like formula aren’t automatically discounted at 20% off like diapers
and wipes are, I can still get that generous discount if I subscribe to five items at the same time.
By the way, you don’t need to be a mom to sign up for Amazon Mom–dads, grandparents and caretakers are all eligible, too.
Subscribe & Save for Baby Formula
Unfortunately I had to give up on nursing and switch to baby formula, so we were once again faced with the hefty monthly cost of feeding a baby. I was happy to see that Amazon’s prices are now very competitive, and I could beat the store price without leaving my house or clipping coupons. Here’s how I do it.
As an Amazon Mom member, I make the most of Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program by subscribing to the baby formula we use, along with four other inexpensive items to get the
20% 15% discount.
The formula I buy (Enfamil Gentlease) costs about $25 for 21.5 ounces at most stores in my area. That’s a cost of $1.16 per ounce. I sometimes receive $5 off coupons or formula checks, so at a regular store I could get the formula for as low as $0.93 per ounce. That of course does not take into consideration the cost of gas, and the nearest baby store where I like to stock up is 16 miles away. Plus, it’s rare to have enough high-value coupons to cover a full month’s supply.
Amazon prices fluctuate, but the current price for a bulk shipment of Enfamil Gentlease powder (118.1 ounces) is $128.33, or $1.09 per ounce. You can see that Amazon already beats the regular store price, without any extra discounts.
My 15% discount brings the cost down even further to just $0.92 per ounce. And, once in a while Amazon will offer product coupons that activate with a click of a button, so I can subtract even more from the price.
Spending more to save more is usually a foolish idea, however, so how do I make it work?
I stipulate that my four Subscribe and Save filler items must be inexpensive (under $3 each) and things that my family needs anyway. I browse the Subscribe & Save store for products like hand soap, kid’s shampoo, dog treats, deodorant, or other household essentials to build up our stockpile. I want to make sure that even with the additional purchases, I’m still coming out ahead.
Some of the Subscribe and Save filler items I’ve purchased
For my most recent shipment, the total cost of the baby formula and my four other items was $112.32–that’s about $27 less than the formula alone would cost at regular store prices, plus I’m getting those other four items that my family needs.
Subscribe & Save Whack-a-Mole
I liken this Subscribe & Save method to a game, because Amazon doesn’t make it easy to eke out the best savings. The least expensive Subscribe & Save products tend to disappear quickly.
Just when you think you’ve found the perfect assortment of inexpensive filler items to get that 20% off, you might get an alert that one of them is no longer available, and you’ll have to find a replacement quickly if you still want the full discount.
The sort by price function doesn’t work for Subscribe & Save store searches, so it’s not easy to quickly find the cheapest items. Some intrepid bloggers and forum posters have taken the time to compile lists of the cheapest Subscribe and Save fillers they can find, but these products tend to sell out quickly. Still, the lists are a good starting point for discovering the types of products that you can find for cheap.
If you’d rather search on your own, brainstorm items that are inexpensive to begin with, then enter general terms like “hand soap” in the search box to find an inexpensive option to fill the gap. It does take a little bit of time and effort, but in my opinion it beats schlepping kids to the store, spending gas money, and trying to keep track of coupons and sales flyers.
If there’s a pricey Subscribe & Save eligible item you need to buy, don’t pass up the chance to get an extra 15% off–you can crush store prices and get it delivered right to your door. Be sure to bookmark the Subscribe and Save Storefront so you can easily search from among the eligible items.
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