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: 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.
abby_calvinIf this isn't happy I don't know what is. The birthday gift that keeps on giving. Tiffany knows me so well - a subscription to a try-new-craft-coffee service? Yes please! I did a happy dance when these showed up in the mailbox. Can't WAIT to try them - maybe in my super-nifty portable espresso maker also from the incomparable Tiffany? You are the bestest and I love you to bits! (Even without the bribe of coffee...) #mistobox #coffee #friendship
Why We Love It: Trunk club is basically like having a personal stylist, but at a fraction of the cost. Their men’s and women’s style quiz is super thorough to ensure that each “trunk” is filled with clothing you’ll love. What’s even better is that you can approve its contents before it’s shipped to your door. Once you try everything on, you choose what to keep (and pay for) and send back the rest at no cost. You can do this on a monthly basis, or whenever you feel like you need to spruce up your wardrobe.
Dollar Shave Club. Subscription grooming boxes aren’t just for women. The Dollar Shave Club is a monthly service that delivers high-quality razor cartridges for both men and women. Choices range from a two-blade razor for $3 per month to a six-blade model for $9. If you don’t like the blade you’re using, you can switch membership levels at any time. When you first join, you get a handle to go with your cartridge of choice and a selection of sample-sized grooming products, such as “shave butter”; if you like them, you can add on a full-sized version to your monthly delivery.
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.
What’s the Return Policy? With many services, you’re stuck with whatever you get in your monthly box. Others let you return items you don’t want – but it isn’t always easy. Before you sign a contract, check it for details about how long you have to return items, how many items you’re allowed to return, and whether you have to pay return shipping costs.
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.
Why We Love It: This is a subscription box that even Ron Swanson himself would buy. Every box is carefully put together (seriously that packaging is great) with down right delicious snacks that revolve around a common theme such as “Bacon Nation” or “Tailgate Tour”. Is the idea of dude friendly snacks a little ridiculous? Sure. But it honestly, we’re here for it.
On the other hand, if your favorite thing about your subscription box is getting a special treat each month, you can give yourself the same experience by creating a category in your personal budget for “mad money.” This is a sum of cash – which doesn’t have to be large – that you can spend on anything you want. It allows you to treat yourself to something special each month – and since you pick it yourself, you can be sure it’s something you’ll really use.