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.

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
Subscription shopping also has some big drawbacks. The most obvious one is that, with most services, you don’t get to choose the items you receive. You get the thrill of looking forward to a surprise package, but when you open it, the surprise isn’t always a pleasant one. You could find yourself stuck with a bunch of stuff you don’t actually want, and not enough of the stuff you need.
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.
6. Love With Food: Looking for a guilt-free way to satisfy your 3 p.m. cravings? Look no further than Love With Food. Each box is filled with an assortment of healthy, organic snacks (think chocolate chip granola, honey apple oat bars and spicy fava beans).The boxes come in three different sizes: Tasting Box, Deluxe Box and the Gluten-Free Box. You can opt for a monthly, quarterly, six-monthly, or annual subscription. Plus, for every box sold, Love With Food donates a meal to charity. So you can stock up your pantry with delish munchies and contribute to a great cause at the same time.

There are ways to get some of the perks of subscription boxes without having to commit to a monthly service. For instance, if what you like about them is having products specially chosen to fit your style, you could join a loyalty program like Sephora’s Beauty Insider. This program rewards you for shopping at the store with bonus products tailored to your tastes.


Subscription shopping also has some big drawbacks. The most obvious one is that, with most services, you don’t get to choose the items you receive. You get the thrill of looking forward to a surprise package, but when you open it, the surprise isn’t always a pleasant one. You could find yourself stuck with a bunch of stuff you don’t actually want, and not enough of the stuff you need.
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.
Other services offer books for more specific audiences. For instance, Comic Bento ships a monthly assortment of graphic novels with a cover value of at least $50 for $25. OwlCrate is a themed monthly box containing a young adult novel and various related items like pens, bracelets, and bobbleheads for $29.99 plus shipping. OwlCrate Jr. provides the same service for tweens, with subscriptions starting at $27.99 a month plus shipping.
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.
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.
birchbox#TBT to when we launched Birchbox in Canada last December! 🇨🇦 Please give a big Birchbox welcome to our Canada subscribers who will now be joining us on this Instagram account and the latest addition to the Birchbox team: @caseycrowetaylor, our Canada Social Media Manager! LOBBL (Lots Of Birchbox Love) xo #Birchbox #BirchboxCA 📷: @theprettyvain
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!

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.
In addition to meals, there are subscription boxes for specific types of food items. For instance, UrthBox delivers healthy snack items each month, along with a few extras like supplements and personal care products. Prices range from $20 a month for a six-item mini box to $50 for a large box with 25 to 30 items. There are also subscription services for vegan and gluten-free foods, wine, beer, coffee, and even hot sauce.
jess__meyers_We love when the mail man brings us our kiwi crate. This month we created a lemonade stand. With a working cash register we put together, a chalkboard sign to decorate and we made a lemon shaped eraser! This is by far our favorite one. The quality of the items are great. Worth every penny. If you haven't gotten your little signed up go do it now. I'm pretty sure I have just as much fun as jax does. #kiwicrate #welovekiwicrate #lemonadestand #bankofkiwi

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.
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.
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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.
12. The D.I.Y Collectives: DIY enthusiasts and fans of organic beauty products will love this subscription box service. All hands-on projects are designed to help you craft your own bath, beauty and skincare products at home. Every month the subscriber receives a project kit that includes a step-by-step guide, organic ingredients and other supplies that are required to complete the project. All the DIY products foster self-sufficiency & promote environmental sustainability. Their past projects include Dead Sea Salt, Lavender, Olive Oil and Lemon Soak and Scrub and a facemask and toner made using bentonite clay, aloe vera , chamomile and rosewater.
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.

5. PawPost: PawPost is the purrfect subscription box service for your four-legged companion. You can choose from three box options: the Cat Box, Dog Box and the Dog Treat Box. Each box contains a carefully curated selection of eco-friendly toys, natural, grain free food and treats and hygiene products. The Dog Treat Box features only edible goodies that are delectable, nutritious and organic. All the products are sourced from brands (like Beautiful Joe’s, Mutts & Hounds and Freak MEOWt) that support animal welfare. Plus, they also do special, festive-themed boxes that include lots of holiday-inspired merch for Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Christmas (now isn't that pawsome?)

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