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.
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.
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.”
Other just-for-fun boxes cater more to adults. For instance, Loot Crate is a $16 monthly subscription box “for geeks and gamers” containing a themed assortment of t-shirts, decals, figurines, and more. And Spicy Subscriptions is strictly adults-only, providing a monthly selection of sexy products like massage oils, candles, and adult toys for $34.95.

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Overbuying. While a subscription box usually costs less than buying all the items in it separately, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t buy all those items if they didn’t come in your box. For instance, a $29-a-month BarkBox subscription works out to $350 each year. Chances are, that’s a lot more than you’d normally spend just for toys and treats. Over the long term, it could add significantly to the cost of owning a dog.
Difficulty of Quitting. In theory, you can cancel a subscription box at any time. However, it’s not always easy to do. McCall says the hassle of canceling is often enough to make people hold on to a service, even after they’ve lost interest in it. He compares it to a gym membership you’re no longer using: As long as the fee is low enough to make it seem like a good deal, it won’t seem worthwhile to cancel the service.

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4. London Tea Club: If you're a tea drinker who wants to get out of the comfort zone and explore the delicious world of rare and exotic loose leaf teas, you should subscribe to the London Tea Club already! Each month you get a new tea carefully packed in a glass vial. The box also includes a detailed note about the tea, tea estate where it was grown and the brewing instructions. The selection is curated with seasonal tea drinking in mind - something LTC's Director Cecelia Lau prefers herself. For instance, this month the subscribers got to enjoy tangy Zomba Pearls White Tea from Malawi. Lightly processed teas are perfect for summer as they are considered to be more cooling. These include white teas, green oolong teas and most young sheng and green teas. Meanwhile, roasted, fermented and aged teas which are considered to be warming are selected for their winter boxes. These include black/red teas, shou puerh, aged sheng puerhs, roasted oolongs, highly oxidized oolongs and certain roasted green teas like Hojicha. Moreover, the selection is responsibly sourced from small farms and independent cooperatives that encourage sustainable tea farming, so the curated teas are all-natural and organic.

Speaking of kids, you can also get subscription boxes with educational toys or projects for children. KiwiCo includes a monthly magazine and an age-appropriate creative project, along with the materials needed to complete it. There are subscriptions for all age groups, from toddlers to teens, and you can choose between art-themed or science-themed boxes for older kids. All boxes are $19.95 per month, with a discount if you commit to a 6-month or 12-month subscription.
GlossyBox. GlossyBox is a pricier service than Birchbox, with monthly rates ranging from $17.50 to $21 depending on the length of your contract. However, it gives you more for your money, providing both samples and full-sized products from trendy brands. Consumerist reports that when its sister publication, ShopSmart magazine, tried the box, it included a full-sized lipstick that would have cost $20 by itself. Unlike Birchbox, this service usually sends the same items to all its subscribers each month.
Another clothing subscription service, Nice Laundry, focuses specifically on socks. Every three months, it ships you six pairs of dress socks, especially chosen for you. Each quarterly shipment has sock weights and styles appropriate for the season. Socks are only available in one size, which will fit most men as well as women with larger feet. It costs $49 for one quarterly shipment, or $99 for a full year.

What you get: With the Dollar Beard Club, you’ll get all natural beard products such as oils, balm, wax, growth accelerators, and more. All you have to do to get started is build a kit which includes choosing an oil, an essential, a shower item, an accelerator, and a accessory, and you’ll be sent that monthly. However, you can always just pick a single product and only have that in your kit which is by far the cheapest option.
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