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.


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.

2. Hygge: Hygge believes that everyone deserves a little pampering and self-care. It's not a subscription service, it's comfort and coziness delivered to your doorstep. The Danish term Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) roughly translates to the feeling of warmth and contentment. Whether it's the soothing aroma of a scented candle, a long bubble bath, a heart-to-heart conversation with a loved one or a hot cup of chamomile tea after a rough day. Hygge is the ritual of creating a cozy atmosphere and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Each monthly box is carefully curated with this concept in mind. Filled with an assortment of items (including a hardcover book, tea, scented candles, artisanal treats and other handmade goodies), unboxing a Hygge box is like opening a box of warmth and happiness. Not to mention the beautiful packaging that enhances the whole unwrapping experience.


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.
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.
Potential Savings. Having goodies shipped to you in a subscription box is often cheaper than buying each of those items separately. Karr says her subscription service gives her a 5% discount on all the items she has shipped from Amazon. Others subscription services offer even bigger savings. For instance, GlossyBox says its October 2017 box contained $69 worth of beauty items for about $20, and Loot Crate promises at least $45 worth of nerd-culture joy for $16.
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