TEXT OF COMMENTARY
Scott Jagow: Whether it’s at the bakery or the drug store, everybody’s looking to save money. But you know what’s even better? Saving money and saving time.
It’s always been tough to do both — usually, you pay extra for convenience — but the Internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
Personal finance columnist Ron Lieber has tapped in to a lot of those time-saving ways, but he may have just found the pinnacle of that time-money continuum.
Ron Lieber: I know way more about saving and spending than most people, but my goal is to think about my own as little as possible, so I automate.
You probably automate too. Your employer direct deposits your paycheck and tosses 5 or 10 percent into a retirement account, your cell phone company charges the bill to your credit card and your credit card company yanks the full balance or the minimum payment from your bank account each month and so on.
But for me, the holy grail is to satisfy every one of my basic, regular money needs without having to even think about it. So imagine my delight when I discovered that it’s now possible to subscribe to my favorite toilet paper.
No more late-night trips to the corner store. No more three-hour round-trip Costco runs.
We have Amazon to thank for this great leap forward. Through their Subscribe and Save program, you tell the company what kind of toilet paper you want, how much you need and how often you want it to show up at your house. That’s it. It just comes — and at a discount to what you’d pay Amazon if you were buying it just once.
It’s not just toilet paper either. You can put Tide on your list or a bunch of other groceries and toiletries. And so that list of things that you don’t need to worry about anymore but you don’t need a butler to do — tasks in your life that just happen without you thinking about it — that list gets longer.
I love that list. My mortgage gets paid this way now, with the full amount disappearing from my bank account automatically each month on the due date. No late fees anymore, ever.
So what isn’t on that magic list yet? Well, nobody comes to my house to fill my car with gas. And buying $20 birthday presents for all of the random parties my daughter attends? That’s pretty high up there on the list of life’s annoyances.
But now, thanks to my toilet paper subscription, I at least have some more time to help her pick something out.
Jagow: Ron Lieber is formerly of FiLife. He writes the Your Money column for the New York Times.
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