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.
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.
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.
7. Pipsticks: If the idea of receiving packs of cute stickers every month in your mail gets you excited then you need to get a Pipsticks subscription ASAP! They offer two subscription services — for kids and for 'pros' (adult sticker enthusiasts). Each monthly package comes with 15 or more sheets of theme-based stickers, a quote card and a fun postcard to share the sticker craze with your loved ones or pen pals. From funky food trucks and glittery unicorns to raindrops, beaches and scratch-and-sniff strawberries — each monthly pack will make the #stickeraddict in you squeal with joy. Plus, they're all set to launch a collection of chic journals, sticker books and planners that will be available from June (Spoiler: the planners come with sparkly, holographic pouches, creative prompts, sticker sheets, patterned sticky notes and much more!). You can pre-order yours here.
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.
Stitch Fix offers boxes for men and women from both well-known and new brands like Joie, Citizens for Humanity, Original Penguin, and Converse. Items cost an average of $55 each, and the $20 “styling fee” is deducted from the cost. If you choose to keep all five items, you get a 25% discount on the lot. If not, you can send back the ones you don’t want in a prepaid envelope.
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.
10. Runner Crate: Runner Crate is perfect for people who want to get or stay fit and try new things at the same time. Every month the subscribers receive cool running gear, 4 to 6 healthy snacks (like veggie chips, granola and organic snack bars) and a couple of other runner goods. The boxes also include monthly running challenges to motivate you to crush your fitness goals.
9. Birchbox: If you're someone who hates browsing through shelves at the local beauty supplier, Birchbox is the perfect subscription service for you. Just fill out a survey to help the service customize the selection based on your personal needs and sit back. Each month, you'll receive five deluxe sample-sized hair, beauty and skincare products tailored to your personal preferences. Every item comes with a how-to guide so you can easily test out different products. Once you've discovered your favorites, you can buy their full-size versions from Birchbox's online store.
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.
Frank And Oak Style Plan is a personal stylist service for men and women, exclusively for Frank And Oak products. You can choose to have Frank And Oak send you 3 items every month or every other month. Items are selected according to your size, taste, and budget preferences– and you can login 2 days before your box ships each month to add or remove items, or skip the month entirely. When your box ships, you’re billed in full for the members-only discounted price of the items in your box; up to 25% off their retail prices. If you decide not to keep any of the items, Frank And Oak will issue a refund minus the $25 styling fee for your order.