Can we talk about subscriptions for a sec?

I harbor no delusions: This post and topic is lifestyle-specific and won’t apply, at least not in full, to lots of folks. However, if you’re in a situation like mine, I’m hoping it might be a smidge helpful. 

So, what’s our situation? 

John works a full-time job that is currently/temporarily at home. He has set office hours, coworkers, meetings, and deadlines that don’t allow flexibility. Thankfully, he doesn’t work weekends. 

I’m self-employed, which means I have flexibility and can focus my efforts on keeping a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old alive. For much of the last year, I’ve woken up around 5:30 to work for a couple hours before they were up. (This whole month, though, I’ve chosen to sleep in but need to restart the 5 am alarm in March). I also work on Sundays and the occasional Saturday. 

Throw in all my other responsibilities–DWAA, CWA, the animals, appointments, Astrid’s various therapies, our sign language classes, keeping the house somewhat clean and running smoothly, feeding four people and three animals a million times a day, etc etc etc–I’m stretched really thin. By the time the girls are asleep, I fall into bed exhausted. 

Anyone else feeling like this?

One way I tried to find time in my day last summer was by streamlining and minimizing errands. None of us want to be wandering around stores right now, and I especially don’t want to take Astrid (she’s under two and can’t wear a mask), so I automated every single thing I could think of. 

I don’t know how much time it’s saved me, but I’m confident in saying LOTS. Plus, it’s saved us a ton of money because most places offer a discount for repeat/automated deliveries and free shipping. However, to be perfectly clear, I’m far more interested in saving time than money at the moment. So, some of these may be more expensive than a hands-on work-around option, but I simply don’t have another minute in my day. As I said, these ideas are entirely lifestyle-specific. 

In this post, I’m breaking down some of the pet-related subscriptions that have saved me the most, and I’m tossing in a few non-pet recommendations at the end. 

Please note: Many of these services offer a referral link or discount code, so I’m sharing those below. If you order from these links, you may get a discount (I’ll definitely point out where), and I may get a referral credit. 

Let’s dig into the savings, shall we?

Dog Food Subscriptions

Fresh food delivered on schedule. This is another important point, actually: Subscriptions that are 100% automatic (they send you your next product before you run out) are worth their weight in gold. Our brains are for processing, not for storing, and having one less thing to think about saves me time and time again. I recommend The Farmer’s Dog because it’s wholesome food delivered automatically in pre-portioned amounts. We’ve always rotated it in with The Honest Kitchen, but Cooper developed some kind of strange reaction to THK formula he’d been on for ages. We actually got a recommendation for another food I’ll share in a sec. BUT! If you’re looking for healthy, complete meals delivered on your dog’s schedule, pre-portioned, and ready-to-serve, subscribe at this link to get 50% off a trial box of The Farmer’s Dog.

Supplement Subscriptions

The cats take a daily vitamin, a joint supplement, and a probiotic. Cooper gets a joint supplement, a probiotic, and allergy meds. The fish tank and the mammals’ water fountains need a new filter each month. All of this is set up as an automatic delivery from Petco every eight weeks. We also add in a kibble, Taste of the Wild Ancient Grains, for Coop.

Repeat Delivery is convenient because it’s automatic, but this has been the least seamless of all the subscriptions. Why? Well, for instance, each of the supplements came in bottles of different counts, so I needed to calculate how many we needed in total for each animal over eight weeks, and we ended up with way too many of one and not enough of another until it balanced out. Then, Petco unexpectedly didn’t ship the kibble one time (though they refunded the amount, they never told us) and then this time around they were out of stock of the cats’ vitamins (they gave us a credit) BUT it was in store, so we had to actually go to Petco to get that. Not a huge deal, of course, but still more complicated than I hope a subscription to be. 

Cat Litter Auto Delivery

Every eight weeks we get two boxes of grass seed cat litter from Only Natural Pet Auto Delivery. Seamless, problem-free, saves money on the items and on shipping, can’t go wrong with this one. 

Cleaning Supplies Subscriptions

I order tree-free paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap? We LOVE their products and the ease of delivery. Even when the world faced a tp shortage, they honored their subscribers’ orders the entire time. We never had a gap. All automatic, all eco-friendly. This link gets you $10 off your first order.

Same for detergent. You guys, I can’t begin to explain the amount of laundry a baby and a preschooler and a dog and two cats and two adults who spill and exercise generate. I do so much laundry. It’s basically my part-time job. I subscribed to Dropps and appreciate that it’s plastic-free and arrives here without me ever thinking about it OR running out. We tried the dishwasher tabs, but they didn’t work for our machine. We have super hard water, so I’m guessing that was the problem, but the detergent has been great. We get unscented because of Coopsie’s skin allergies! This link gets you $15 off your first order.

Toys and Treats (OPTIONAL!)

No discussion of pet subscriptions is complete without a BarkBox mention. TBH, we cancelled ours for a while because we tried a different box that had “tough” toys, but Coop destroyed those just as easily and each month had almost identical products. We’re going back to BarkBox because, even if he’s going to shred the toys, at least they’ll be cute and funny. This link gets you a free month to give it a try.

Subscriptions For the Humans

Obviously, we benefit from Who Gives a Crap? and Dropps, too, but for us humans I have two others I recommend:

Quip: OK, I stumbled upon this by accident, and it is by no means necessary, but I literally could never remember to purchase toothbrush refills or replacements. We always ran out of floss, and it never made the shopping list, and so on. I saw this in the aisle at Target. After you buy one, they send you the refill head (and a replacement battery!) each time you’re due for a new one. Your mouth will thank you. This link gets you $5 refills

Instacart: We’re being incredibly COVID-cautious around here. We want to go into stores as infrequently as possible. So, I’ve switched to Instacart for our weekly Aldi order. It’s saved us a bucketload of money (who knew how many grocery-store impulse purchases we were making?!?!) and so very much time. No driving to and from, no finding a parking space, no wrestling two greased-up alligators, er, children, etc. They’ve only messed it up in full one time. Usually, they’re so good about texted with questions, replacement items, and so on. If you haven’t yet tried Instacart, this link gets you $10 toward your groceries

I also set up a subscription for ink for my printer (seriously, you guys… HP automatically mails ink when the printer gets low… like, how?!?), BUT I paused my StitchFix subscription because I obviously never have to leave the house so just wear sweats all the time. 

Ultimately, I know subscriptions aren’t for everyone.

Some of you may actually enjoy going to the store! I heard from a friend recently who said going to the grocery store gives her life because it’s her sole outing around other humans. We all need to figure out what works for ourselves and our lifestyles, but in case you’re like me… feeling like you’re drowning, like there’s never enough time, like you just need something to fall off your list… I truly hope this is helpful.

And if YOU have found a time-saving or money-saving trick, or if you’ve discovered some sort of automation, please share in the comments. I’d love to hear your ideas! 

Or if you think this is totally bonkers, share that, too! We can all learn from each other, no matter where we fall on the subscription-or-shop-IRL spectrum! 

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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