Can You Really Afford It? Although subscription boxes can contain useful items, most of them are clearly wants rather than needs. Even if a box is a good value, it’s not worth buying if you don’t have room in your budget. Financial planner Katie Colman, speaking with LearnVest, says it’s okay to splurge on a monthly crate of goodies only “as long as you’re meeting all your other financial obligations and it’s not impacting your ability to meet your goals.”
Why We Love It: If you’ve ever had a large dog, then you know the struggle of constantly having to buy new toys for them to chew through. Bullymake specializes in durable toys and chews for those big dogs who can destroy anything they set their mind to. The best part is that if your doggo wrecks his new toy within 14 days of receiving it, they’ll ship out a new (and more durable one) for free.
Unclear Value. Normally, when you shop for any product, you can look at all the choices and compare their prices to see which is the best deal. But with a subscription box service, you get a different assortment of products every month, and you don’t even know what they’re going to be. That makes it much harder to figure out whether your box is really worth what you’re paying for it.
Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, "And from that you make a living?" She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.
How Much Control Do You Have? Some subscription services send the same monthly box to every subscriber. Others, such as Stitch Fix, tailor the contents to your personal tastes based on a questionnaire you fill out when you sign up. A few, such as Julep, allow you to preview each month’s box before it’s shipped and skip that month if you don’t want it, or even personally choose some or all of the items you receive. This means you’ll never have to waste money on an item you don’t want – but on the downside, your monthly box won’t be a special surprise.
Are These Items You Can Use? The most important thing to know before you sign up for a monthly box is whether you’ll use everything in it. With some services, such as Dollar Shave Club, it’s easy to tell, because you know exactly what you’ll be getting every month. But with others, you can’t be sure what to expect. However, you can get a pretty good idea by checking reviews online to find out what items the box has held for the past few months before you take the plunge.

Julep. The monthly Julep box has a focus on nail polish, though it includes other beauty items as well. Unlike many services, Julep gives users the option of previewing the month’s selections and picking out the specific items they want. The service has two tiers: My Maven, which provides $40 worth of products for $25 a month, and Maven Luxe, which delivers at least $60 worth of products for $40 a month. You can save $5 a month off either service by signing up for a three-month subscription.
GoodBeing. Formerly known as Goodebox, this service focuses on organic and eco-friendly products. It offers a choice of subscriptions: an all-beauty box that contains makeup and other beauty products, and a “lifestyle” box that adds in wellness items like sunscreen, supplements, and products for the home. Both boxes are available in a $10-per-month mini size with only two items, or a $25-a-month standard size with four to five items of varying sizes. If you choose the standard size, you can personally select one or two of the items you receive each month. You can shave a few dollars off the monthly fee by signing up for six months in advance.
Why We Love It: If you’ve ever had a large dog, then you know the struggle of constantly having to buy new toys for them to chew through. Bullymake specializes in durable toys and chews for those big dogs who can destroy anything they set their mind to. The best part is that if your doggo wrecks his new toy within 14 days of receiving it, they’ll ship out a new (and more durable one) for free.
Why We Love It: High quality beauty products are expensive and a gamble. Birchbox sends out samples for men and women based off your beauty profile and allows you to rate them so they can further customize your next order. You get to try out high end products to see what works best for you for next to nothing, and if you find something you like then you can purchase the full size version directly from their website. Also BirchBox were also one of the OG’s of monthly subscription boxes.
Why We Love it: You know the best way to put on jeans? Put on a pair of leggings instead. Not only is the quality of Fabcrate’s apparel top of the line, but it’s just plain stylish. Each piece they send you will easily make you the trendiest person in your hot yoga class, and Becky with the obnoxious floral leggings green with envy. These guys are one of our favourite monthly subscription boxes!
BeautyFIX is Dermstore’s contribution to the skin care and beauty realm of subscription boxes. Curated by skin care experts, each monthly BeautyFIX includes six or more products adding up to a total value of $100+ (that’s about four times what you’ll pay for it!). In each box, you can expect to see a healthy mix of full-size and deluxe-travel-size products—including skin care, hair care and cosmetics handpicked by beauty experts and delivered right to your door. Brands included in previous boxes include: Avene, Paula’s Choice, Skinceuticals, ByTerry, Jane Iredale, Juice Beauty, and more.
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