Why We Love It: Cooking is hard and unless you’re great at it, you can pretty much guarantee meal time to be a fiasco – even when provided with instruction. Freshly takes the grunt work out of meal prepping by delivering healthy, handcrafted meals to your door that you handpicked yourself. All you have to do is heat that bad boy up and you’re ready to go. Oh, and the best part? They’re not frozen.
Dia&Co is the premier styling service for women sizes 14 and up. After filling out a style quiz, you’re matched with a personal stylist who hand-picks pieces based on your style, fit and budget preferences. For just $20, you get a Dia Box filled with five curated styles delivered right to your doorstep. Try them on in the comfort of your own home, then keep what you love and send back what you don’t! You’re only charged for what you keep—and your $20 styling fee is always credited toward any purchases. Shipping’s free both ways!
Birchbox. This is the box that started it all, and it’s still one of the most popular, with over a million subscribers. For $10 per month or $110 per year, it provides an assortment of five beauty samples – all specially chosen to meet your particular tastes. Items include lipstick, mascara, skin cream, dry shampoo, and fragrance, all from high-end brands. If you like the samples in your monthly box, you can order full-size versions from the Birchbox website. Birchbox now offers a men’s grooming box as well, with products like hair gel, deodorant, and beard oil.
If your kids are always glued to your iPad or laptop, then they'll love this subscription that teaches them how to code. Each box has an activity book with various coding projects, which kids develop into an app through the Bitsbox website. They'll be dying to show off their digital creations to friends and family, plus it gives them hours of entertainment.
So there is one thing you need to remember about a few of these monthly subscription boxes, like Allure. Some offer a reduced first month rate but then will renew at a normal rate once the first month is over. That’s why it’s super important to turn off the auto-renew option on any boxes that you know you won’t want to subscribe to on a monthly basis.
Each BarkBox contains four or five items, which are never the same from month to month. When you sign up, you enter your dog’s weight to get items that are sized appropriately for your pooch; you can scale up or down at any time. And if there’s an item your pup doesn’t like, you can exchange it free of charge (up to one item per month). The service costs $29 per month, with a discount for 6- or 12-month subscriptions.
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.
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.
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.”
Stitch Fix is a personal styling service. You tell them your style and size preferences, and they send you a package of stylish goodies to try on at home. No two Fix shipments are alike. Each one is hand-picked just for you. Keep what items you like, and return the rest in a pre-paid return mailer. The services costs $20 a month for your stylist, but that fee is deducted from any items you choose to keep.