Frugal Living

Maximize Amazon Subscribe and Save to Receive Even Better Discounts

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Alex on April 11, 2014

maximize-amazon-subscribe-and-save-to-your-doorstep

Note from The Thrifty Couple: This is written by our friend Theresa (mom to a family of 11) who has been using the Amazon Subscribe and Save program for a while now and is sharing how it all works and the benefits of it! We also use Amazon Subscribe and Save monthly as it is like shopping Walmart’s prices, but online, plus even more discounts to make the prices better.  But we will let her tell you all about it! 

The UPS delivery woman knocks briskly on my door a lot around the beginning of the month, leaving my porch filled with awkwardly stacked boxes. That’s because my Amazon Subscribe and Save order arrives between the 1st and 7th every month. I love Subscribe and Save.

Getting Started with Subscribe and Save

The Amazon Subscribe and Save program can be a convenient and easy way to save money. Here are some basics if you are ready to try it out!

Not all grocery items are part of the Subscribe and Save program. If they are available for subscription, you will see an option to subscribe to the item under the “Add to Cart” button. To subscribe, just select the quantity and frequency of delivery, and click subscribe now.

amazon-subscribe-and-save-easy

If that seems like a lot of commitment, don’t worry! You aren’t marrying it, you can change any of the details about your subscription at any time. It is easy to access your Subscribe and Save subscription page from the options under the “Your Account” tab. You can even cancel an item before the first shipment is sent if you change your mind, just as long as you do it before your order is prepared.

If you end up running out too soon, or not needing the next shipment, you have the option to change the schedule to make the delivery frequency anywhere from 1 month to 6 months apart. Or, if you end up getting a great deal somewhere else on a usually delivered item, you can skip a delivery with one click.

Amazon will send you an email every month before they get your Subscribe and Save order ready, reminding you that your order is shipping soon. This is your chance to make any changes. I check mine over carefully to make sure that I want to get all the items this month that are scheduled to come.

Subscribe and Save Discounts

Getting the best deal on Subscribe and Save takes some savvy shopping and knowledge of how the program works. Let’s talk discounts.

shop-and-save-up-to-15-percent

Every subscribe and save order gets a 5% discount off the regular “Add-to-Cart-and-Ship-Now” price . For veteran coupon shoppers, this doesn’t sound like much. Don’t worry, it gets lots better! If you subscribe to 5 or more items to be delivered on your monthly delivery day, you will get 15% off your entire Subscribe and Save shipment. For Amazon Mom’s members, that 15% gets bumped up to 20%. So make sure you are signed up for Amazon Mom, which also gets you 20% off of diapers and wipes subscriptions, regardless of how big your monthly shipment is.

If you haven’t already done it, you should sign up for a free 3 month trial to Amazon Mom which includes Prime benefits. That’s a great way to get the best available discounts and see if Subscribe and Save works well for your family’s needs.

Stacking Discounts with Coupons

Alright, so 15% or 20% off is more like honest to goodness savings, isn’t it? The real fun starts though, when you realize that you can stack Amazon coupons with a Subscribe and Save discount. The coupon applies only to the first month’s delivery of the item. However, since it is so easy to cancel, signing up for a Subscribe and Save shipment with every intention of only getting that first, deeply discounted order is no problem. Just make sure you are checking over your order thoroughly every month when you get that reminder email to make deletions and any other needed changes to any previous orders.

There are two basic types of coupons at Amazon: the fixed dollar off amount, and the percentage off.

The best strategy for the dollar off type is usually to look for the smallest unit available. A $1.50 off coupon might not make much of a dent in the price of a 6 pack of deodorant for instance, but can make a single deodorant a screaming deal after discounts. These dollar off coupons for small items can be a great way to build up to the 5 items a month needed to get your 15% (or 20% for Amazon Mom’s members) off for the whole order.

For the percentage off coupons, the percentage is figured from the original price. So a 25% off coupon stacked with a 15% discount makes for a true 40% off. These coupons are often a great way to stock up, if you have the margin in your budget to buy a case. Of course, I do find with my 9 children (4 of whom are teenagers), there is no such thing as stocking up, there is only more to eat!

Sometimes coupons stick around for a month or more, sometimes they only last a very short time. Check out the Amazon coupon page HERE to find out what deals are currently offered.

Recurring Shipments

There are several items that I just find very convenient to be shipped to me. I get a case of high quality toilet paper and paper towels at a great price, shipped every other month without having to wait for sales or coupons, wrestle it into a cart, then in and out of the car. I appreciate that a lot. Coconut oil, Larabars, and tea are other items I have in my recurring shipments. Just check the prices on items you normally get locally or through a co-op and see if Subscribe and Save is cheaper.

When shopping for items for recurring delivery, make sure you check all sizes, flavors, and quantities available. There is often a significant difference in per unit price between these variations. Like box and mortar stores, Amazon does provide a per ounce or per item price to make comparison easier. Look for it right after the price on the product description page. Just like regular stores though, sometimes the unit being used isn’t consistent, so you have to figure it out yourself!

If you happen to see a coupon for an item that is already part of your regular shipment (as has happened to me a couple times), the only way to take advantage of that deal is to start a new delivery order for that item. Then just make sure you go and cancel the other standing delivery if you don’t want to be receiving two of the same. Your most recent Subscribe and Save orders will be closest to the top on your Subscribe and Save account page, scroll down to find the one you need to cancel. Sometimes a coupon you used to subscribe the previous month will still be valid, and you can just rinse and repeat.

Here’s hoping you find some great Subscribe and Save deals, and your UPS deliveries are exciting every month!

See more details about:

Amazon’s Subscribe and Save home shopping delivery service HERE

Amazon Mom’s Discount Baby products program HERE

Amazon’s available monthly coupons HERE

Alex & Cassie
 

5-Minute Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe: Quick, Easy and Cheap

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on March 28, 2014

5-minute-liquid-laundry-detergent

I’ve finally done it! I’ve finally tried a homemade liquid laundry detergent.

For years, I have used my homemade versions of powdered laundry detergent. We love them and have been completely satisfied with our homemade powdered detergents. I have been making the powdered detergents for so long that they have been tried and tested in both an old used regular upright washing machine and new HE front loading washer. In both machines as they work well! They are cheap and I can make it in 10 minutes. We have also heard from many of you that you like these powdered detergents as well.

But we have had several of you that have raved about homemade liquid detergents. I haven’t had a desire to make laundry detergent this way as nearly every recipe has required a pretty decent amount of time and labor. I HATE grating soap. I also don’t want to spend 24 hours making laundry detergent. Yes, I know, hands-on wise, it’s not that long. But in all honesty, when I run out of detergent, I usually need more ASAP. So, I just haven’t felt the need to try liquid if my powder one works great and takes 10 minutes to make.

Well, a couple of months ago, we had a family that stayed with us overnight (we are part of a Christian Hospitality Network for Christian families all over the world to have a place to stay, and if we go on the road, we have hundreds of places to stay too! It’s GREAT!…..Now back on topic ;)) and the mom in this family also liked making her own cleaning products as well. She also agreed that homemade liquid laundry detergents take too much time and this has stopped her from making it. She’s like me…. if she runs out, she needs more right away, not a day later.

She shared that she found an instant liquid laundry detergent recipe. I was intrigued and thought I would give it a whirl myself. She sent me the recipe a few days later when she got home from Everyday Cheapskate.

So I gave it a whirl and added my own modifications with essential oils.

Here’s the recipe and then I will talk about the pros and cons at the bottom.

dawn-laundry-detergent

What you need:

- 3/4 cup of Borax
- 3/4 cup of Washing Soda (or Soda Ash)
- 3/4 cup of Original Blue Dawn Dish soap
- Lavender essential oil (get them HERE)
- Hottest tap water
- 1-gallon container with a tight lid (I also used the Arrowhead water container, you can grab them for $1-$1.50 filled, drink the water and you have an affordable heavy duty container with a tight fitting lid and a comfy hand grip to make it easy to use).

Okay – are you ready for this……. it’s quite complicated! :)

pouring-powders-in-liquid-detergent

  • Dump the 34/ cup of Borax and Washing Soda in the bottom of a gallon jug with a tight lid – I used a funnel to not lose any.

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  • Then, with the hottest tap water you can muster, fill your bottle with water to the bottom of the label.

first-shake-liquid-detergent

  • Put the lid on tight and shake vigorously (BONUS: you will work on your underarm wings at the same time!)

measuring-dawn-liquid-detergent

  • Then add you 3/4 cup of Original Blue Dawn Dish Soap.

pouring-dawn-liquid-detergent

  • Muster up the hottest tap water again and fill up your bottle until the bubbles reach the top (liquid line will be several inches down still).  I actually filled the 3/4 cup scoop and poured it into the funnel to fill it to wash out any remaining down and washing down into the bottle.

second-shake-dawn-liquid-detergent

  • Then put the lid on again and shake vigorously, switching the hard working side to the other side to get an equal underarm wing workout (no one wants just one wing ya know ;)).
  • Finally, let it set on the counter for a bit for the bubbles to settle.
  • Then top it off with lavender essential oil (about 10-12 drops) if you like (I LOVE lavender in my laundry) and a slow flow of hot water to fill it up (slow flow to not create a lot of bubbles again).

finished-dawn

That’s it!

To use:

  • Simply add 1/4 cup of this liquid detergent to a full wash load (this is enough!) and less for smaller loads. The amount is the same in both a top loader and an HE machine.  I have an HE machine now and I have been using this with no problems. It doesn’t create a lot of suds and so it’s great for HE machines.

Pro’s

  • This detergent is super easy to make and I can make it in half the time of my powder and a lot less equipment.
  • It seems to be quite effective in our laundry!  Dawn is also used often as a stain remover, so it makes sense to include it in a detergent!
  • The laundry smells great!
  • The laundry seems to be nice and clean!

Con’s

  • The mixture does separate.  The blue Dawn will settle at the top.  So every time I need to use it, I just shake it vigorously for about 5 seconds before adding to the washer.  But I look at this as a pro as it forces me (again) to work on my underarms.  The housework workout is quite an effective one, but there aren’t many things that work on the underarms – so now you will be lifting a several pound weight and shaking it = underarm workout bonus for no additional cost!
  • Your clothes can become a little starchy according to others, I have not noticed this at all – perhaps it’s because I also use vinegar in every load – which I highly recommend.  This will do many things additional to your laundry, but also help the Dawn wash out completely to prevent starching.
  • It is not technically natural.  My powdered versions are totally natural.  But because of the Blue Dawn, it cannot be labeled natural.  However, original Blue Dawn is one of the mildest commercial products.  Again, not the Dawn’s with a bunch of added stuff and scents, just the good ol’ classic.  The good news is that this is the cheapest dawn and it get’s cheaper the bigger bottle you buy.

This was the biggest bottle at Walmart (56 oz.) as it was the best value at the time, but after buying this, I saw it at Costco and Sam’s Club that was about twice the size and even cheaper per ounce.

After this first batch, this is how much I have left. So this will last me for quite a while!

dawn-blue-56oz

 See more Homemade Products

See our Home Pinterest Board

Alex & Cassie
 

Replace Commercial Cleaners with Homemade Alternatives to Save Big Money

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on March 19, 2014

be-intentional-replace-cleaners

As a reminder, the 30 Be Intentional baby steps are designed to get you on the right foot, the right track and give you energy, efficiency and organization which will propel you into a life that is able to develop an overall financially smart, happy and frugal home. We encourage couples and families to do these challenges together so the whole house can function well!

As the 30 steps go along, we will be focusing on 5 areas for the Be Intentional Month:

  • Self
  • Home
  • Budget
  • Schedule
  • Frugality

See the full list of baby steps HERE.

So we are on the last category – Frugality! And as we continue with each of these, we wanted to encourage you to make continued steps for frugality so that you can more freedom with your money.

Baby Step #26

Begin or Continue to Replace Store-bought Products with Homemade Versions

One very easy frugal move to make is in the area of homemade cleaning products.  They are easy to make, cheap to make, safe to use and effective!

We have been working on the list of 26 Homemade Cleaners Recipes and we will continue to grow this list! The best news is that there is a printable shopping list to be able to make the 26 cleaners with 12 ingredients and $9! You can also find information on how to give these products an efficiency boost with affordable essential oils as well.  Just find the recipe from this list HERE for the commercial cleaning products that you want to replace and then make those (you don’t need to make all 26, just the ones you would use!).

Start with one switch and add another every couple of weeks or so and soon enough, you will have your cleaning pantry filled with your own products and you will saved hundreds!

To see the full list of recipes, head to our cleaning page HERE

One final thing….. we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!

Alex & Cassie
 

Why It’s Important To Do Dinner By 10

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on March 14, 2014

why-its-important-dinner-by-10

As a reminder, the 30 Be Intentional baby steps are designed to get you on the right foot, the right track and give you energy, efficiency and organization which will propel you into a life that is able to develop an overall financially smart, happy and frugal home. We encourage couples and families to do these challenges together so the whole house can function well!

As the 30 steps go along, we will be focusing on 5 areas for the Be Intentional Month:

  • Self
  • Home
  • Budget
  • Schedule
  • Frugality

See the full list of baby steps HERE.

Be Intentional Baby Step #24 

Dinner by 10

This sounds like a funny one, and we have talked about this many times before, but we are challenging you to do Dinner By 10!

Here’s why it is important:

  • It will save you time
  • It will save you money
  • It will save your sanity
  • It will keep you committed to dinner

What is it?

Well, we are just going to direct you to the original post we wrote about this by checking out this post HERE as it already explains it all!  It is one of the most popular posts on our site, but we haven’t talked about it for a while, so it is a good way to bring it up again in our baby steps!

One final thing….. we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!

Alex & Cassie
 

6 Ways to Help Save the Bees

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on March 12, 2014

6-ways-to-help-the-bees

You may have seen the dozens of news articles over the past couple of years regarding the bee population – or rather the decline of the bee population. Bees are so super important to our food supply.

First, the decline of the bee population is a very high alarming number – “The total number of managed honeybee colonies has gone from 5 million in the 1940s to only 2.5 million today. Winter 2012/2013 saw total losses of managed honeybee colonies at 31.1 percent, a figure higher than average for the last six years,” according to MNN network.

They don’t know why bees are disappearing yet, but we can help by creating bee friendly environments. God created these little guys for a purpose and so we personally want to do our best to be good stewards and help them.

Why is this important to do?

Well, 1/3 of our varieties of food will disappear without the pollinating efforts of bees!  This would include the disappearance of:

  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Carrots
  • Mangos
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Honeydew
  • Cantaloupe
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Green onions
  • Cauliflower
  • Leeks
  • Bok choy
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Mustard greens

We love everything on this list and would be so sad to see these things disappear! Here’s a picture to illustrate the point from Whole Foods Market:

small-wholefoods-bees-releasephoto

Photo Credit

Honestly, bees frighten me and I don’t want to be around them.  But I don’t want to lose certain healthy foods even more!  In fact, our desire for raw honey and produce has gotten so strong, that we have been talking about “how can we have a backyard urban bee farm?”  I actually can’t believe I am at that point!

But, even if you don’t go that far, there are some simple things one can do to help save the bees!

1. Plant bee friendly plants, flowers and foods. 
We will post a chart for you in a couple of days of easy things to plant to encourage bee pollination.  So be watching for that to help you plan your frugal, sustainable and bee happy gardens.
2. Avoid the use of chemicals and pesticides in your gardens. 
There are many natural alternatives for pest control – like Marigolds! They make bees happy and keep pests out!
3. Support local sustainable farmers.
Buy local as much as possible, especially as the farmer’s market season starts soon!  It is reported that up to 50% of the healthy bee populations are supported by the local, sustainable farmers.  Plus this produce is supporting your local economy and family based farms and businesses.  So it is helping more than the bees! We also find it to be cheaper and fresher!
4. Buy local and raw honey.
Again, encourage your local farmers and your local bee farms with buying their supply so they are encouraged to make more and have the opportunity to make more and support their bees.
5. Make a bee hotel.
This is an easy, thrifty, fun and helpful way to make a happy place for bees!
Here’s the instructions (full version on the Sainsbury’s site HERE).
juice-carton-bee-hotel-sm
6. Encourage local garden stores to not sell bee killing pesticides/chemicals.
Let’s keep the bees around!
See more on Frugal Living HERE
Alex & Cassie