Automate my life
October 22, 2017 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Working mom here: toddler, family, house, pet, baby on the way - no time for anything. Currently I do Autopay with bills, but have not automated anything else. I'm looking to do some auto-shipments of things like toilet paper...but what else could I automate? What do you automate and why?

This could include anything from getting monthly make-up delivery from birch box to a quarterly delivery of Tide from Amazon. Looking for ideas.
posted by Toddles to Shopping (14 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I use Amazon subscriptions for...

- mascara
- eyeliner
- concealer
- tampons
- make up remover wipes
- toilet paper
- paper towels
- hair spray
- shampoo and conditioner

In looking at that, I’m realizing most of it is for me. I think that’s because when the kiddo needs something, I am quick to get it but for me? I end up just forgetting or not getting around to it and this way, it just shows up.
posted by polkadot at 3:27 PM on October 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Pet food and litter because she’ll always need it, it would be an emergency to run out, and I’ll never feel like schlepping it (city dweller with no car.)
posted by kapers at 3:30 PM on October 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Meant to add: I do this on a website where you get a pretty good discount for automation and it is easy to adjust/cancel (Chewy.)
posted by kapers at 3:31 PM on October 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

It was easy enough to figure out almost exactly how much food and litter our cats go through every month. We just took a note down when we ran out of litter and did the math when next we ran out, and cans of cat food typically come in boxes of 24 and they each get two a day. It was kind of annoying though to find somewhere that would automate shipping for one of our cat's special IBS-friendly food, but's pretty solid once we set it up. There are a ton of pet food options on amazon subscription, and you can also often organize regular orders if you have a local pet stuff store that you prefer.

I've been listening to a lot of podcasts so I'm going to suggest snacks from NatureBox. You can get specific with them or have them send you curated snack choices depending on a category request, iirc.

There's a whole world of subscription products like this out there and it's kind of booming at the moment, so once you start looking for them you might get overwhelmed by choice. But there is one old standby that I would recommend against in your current situation - the weekly produce box from a farm co-op. Unless you're prepared to dedicate significant time to figuring out recipes for celery root all winter and doing additional shopping to support the things you got in the box so you can turn it into something yummy, it is often more hassle than it's worth. When your family has grown a bit and you want someone else to decide what vegetable to have for dinner that night, it becomes a viable option, but right now it sounds like a bad choice for you.
posted by Mizu at 3:44 PM on October 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

We ordered groceries online and had them delivered up until recently - our grocery store had a deal where if you got a credit card through them and spent $100+ on groceries delivery would be free on Wednesdays. We had a delivery every other week and picked up "a few things" as needed in between. (On preview: despite having run CSA's ourselves we did indeed cancel our farm box. We just weren't doing that much cooking from scratch.)

We get take out on Fridays - I order the takeout on my phone (EatNow).

I have our bank's app downloaded and do all our banking on my phone.

App to find and book Dr appointments (in Oz, it's FirstAvailable) and request prescription renewals (ozmedhealthonline or something like that).

Am planning on downloading our library's app so I can reserve and renew books.
I also get a lot of use out of Stitchr for podcasts, and am enjoying my free trial of YouTube Red.

I really hate clothes shopping and have had to do more of it than ever since I've changed sizes and shapes so many times... if we had something like Stitch Fix I'd definitely do that when heading back to work.

If we didn't rent in a volatile market (we've moved five times in five years, ugh) I'd have loved to have a few magazine subscriptions. I tire of reading on my phone, and reading a whole book is really... impossible - but I can get through articles and pretty pictures okay.
posted by jrobin276 at 3:59 PM on October 22, 2017

Dude. Roombas. My eufy vacuums the whole place while I'm at work every day. My mopping robot takes a little more effort (fill up the water tank, replace the mop rug and throw it in the washer) but it makes a huge difference as far as me never having to mop the floor is concerned.

The dishwasher and the laundry are programmed to run while I'm at work, I just move the clothes to the dryer when I get home. I upgraded those appliances specifically for that ability (also recent models are so much quieter -- I assume since I'm not home -- and more efficient).

Blue Apron-type grocery delivery services save me so, so much stress (I enjoy cooking, and solving the "what's for dinner?" problem is hardly stress but god damnit every. Single. Day) and money, absolutely worth it. Automate the "what's for dinner" thing, even if you still have to cook.

Workout class series are akin to automation for me, because I don't have to decide whether I feel like going to the gym or not, it's just class is at 6 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays and of course I'll be there because I signed up for it and of course I am going to go. Somehow just having a gym membership doesn't do it for me (and most of the population, evidence shows).

Costco is awful. Planet Money recently had an episode on how Costco is purposefully designed to be awful. I pay a little more, but Instacart has been delivering all my Costco stuff for several years now and life is so, so much better. I never have to plan half a day around shopping anymore.
posted by halogen at 4:15 PM on October 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

Not an automation per se but: Prime Now, if you’re in a market they’re in. Awesome to be able to get (to pick a recent example from my life) a car battery charger in time to charge the battery for tomorrow without having to leave the house.

Purple Carrot (vegan meal kit service) has been remarkably successful at improving my health, within just a month. Worth the cost, IMHO.

Imperfect Produce, if you’re in a market they service. Cheap vegetables delivered weekly, and you can customize your box every week if you don’t want yet more kale (for example). Goes well with a meal kit service, so I have three meals a week already sorted out for me (Purple Carrot) and then freshly-delivered vegetables for the other four, with essentially no effort on my part.
posted by aramaic at 5:05 PM on October 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I started using the reminders app on my phone for many things, recurring and not. (I have an iPhone, but I assume Android has something similar). I'm not quite to the level that lalex is, but I especially like it for things that have a longer gap inbetween--regular vet appointments for the dog, refills for my dog's prescriptions that take a week to come in, changing the air filter, rotating the mattress, giving the dog his heartworm and flea meds (see a theme here?), paying rent (my landlord takes paper checks).
posted by radioamy at 5:52 PM on October 22, 2017

Also not automation per se, but we now pay $12/week for someone to come clean up the dog poop out of our yard. I thought it was silly at first, but it is much cheaper than paying someone to mow the lawn and then mowing the lawn doesn't have a pre-mowing step of cleaning up dog poop, so it's a double win.
posted by deludingmyself at 6:02 PM on October 22, 2017

I use the Amazon "Subscribe and Save" feature for vitamins and supplements I take regularly.

In Peapod (grocery delivery) you can set up a "Favorites" type list with items you frequently order. If you make a menu plan for a week and add all the items to your favorites list, you can order a week's worth of groceries with a couple of clicks, any time you feel like following that plan. You could make a second week's menu plan and a second favorites list, alternate menus every other week, and never have to plan a meal or shop for groceries again.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:23 PM on October 22, 2017

I started having my groceries delivered a year ago or so, and it has changed my life for the better in so many ways. It's not exactly automatic, but I think you can save a shopping list so you can have all the basics you know you'll need, and then add to it. I use FreshDirect and occasionally InstaCart and like them both. (I also supplement with a farmer's market and occasional grocery store runs for things like bananas that I go through quickly, but it's a thousand times easier than doing a proper food shop.)

I just got my cat so it hasn't come up yet, but I'm going to do food and litter delivery with Chewy. Particularly living in a city with no car, I am willing to pay delivery fees in lieu of schlepping stuff around.

I used to get Birchbox, and it was really nice, and kept me pretty well in makeup without having to go out and buy very much -- maybe eyeshadows in non-neutral colors were the only things I really lacked. I'll probably do that and/or Sephora's monthly delivery service when I can afford it again.

I did a meal delivery kit once -- I really liked it because it taught me a lot of new cooking techniques (I'm a competent but not super-skilled cook), but it was very expensive, and the amount of waste it produced was kind of awful. If you really struggle with what to cook or how to cook, though, I think it would be worth it.

(It took a long time to not feel guilty about ordering in when I was too tired or stressed to cook myself. I sincerely hope you don't have this mental block, but with GrubHub it's hilariously easy to order extremely good food quickly, and I eat pretty healthily too -- I mean, yeah, I get pizza, but I also get poke bowls and hummus sandwiches and awesome salads etc.)

Nthing that I really didn't like my CSA. It was too much food, and not a good range of foods -- going to a farmer's market is vastly cheaper and I don't have to figure out what the hell to do with a head of lettuce the size of my torso, or how to preserve a lot of my bounty.
posted by kalimac at 7:26 PM on October 22, 2017

When I was postpartum and had no time to shop but wanted to wear normal looking, cute clothes, I used StitchFix and was very happy.
posted by gatorae at 9:38 PM on October 22, 2017

I have Amazon Subscribe and Save for mostly household cleaning products.

Toilet paper
Paper towels
Swiffer wet pads
Toilet bowl cleaner
Bathroom cleaner
All-purpose cleaner
Dishwasher detergent
Handwashing dish detergent
Baby shampoo
Shaving cream
Trash bags
Baby wipes
Body wash
Baby food tubs and pouches

I have to babysit the subscriptions to make sure they're coming at the frequency I need them, and Amazon infuriatingly removes items from being subscription-eligible all the time, but it sure beats carrying heavy detergents home from the store.
posted by Liesl at 7:22 AM on October 23, 2017

If you ask me, Amazon Dash Buttons are even better than subscribing. You just push a button and toilet paper or cat litter or coffee or whatever shows up 2 days later. I guess if you know exactly how much of each you go through in a month a subscription works, but never have I ever been that organized.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:47 AM on October 23, 2017

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