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.

Why We Love It: High quality beauty products are expensive and a gamble. Birchbox sends out samples for men and women based off your beauty profile and allows you to rate them so they can further customize your next order. You get to try out high end products to see what works best for you for next to nothing, and if you find something you like then you can purchase the full size version directly from their website. Also BirchBox were also one of the OG’s of monthly subscription boxes.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
athomewithnikkiReceived a nice and unexpected gift in the mail from @trytheworld . They had a nice note included stating they thought I would love their teal box 😃. I do like the box but really love the fact that the items in the box are all from Portugal. My girlfriends and I celebrated my 40th birthday in Portugal a few years back so this box reminded me of some great memories today. #trytheworld #portugal #nicesurprise
Problems With Returns. Some subscription services, such as Stitch Fix, let you return or exchange items you don’t want. However, it’s not always easy to do, and so many people just don’t bother. Consumer expert Mitchell McCall, speaking with LearnVest, says people are much more likely to leave something on the shelf in the store than they are to return an item they’ve already received – even if they know they won’t use it.
11. Frank And Oak: Frank and Oak's clothing subscription service is a hassle-free and affordable way to upgrade your wardrobe every month without leaving the house. All you have to do is fill out a survey about your style preferences and sizing and sit back. Next, you'll get an email with a preview of three items of clothing handpicked by a Frank and Oak stylist based on your personal style. You get 48 hours to add or edit items in the box or skip the entire order. All subscribers get 20% off each piece of clothing they decide to keep. Plus, free shipping and returns.
athomewithnikkiReceived a nice and unexpected gift in the mail from @trytheworld . They had a nice note included stating they thought I would love their teal box 😃. I do like the box but really love the fact that the items in the box are all from Portugal. My girlfriends and I celebrated my 40th birthday in Portugal a few years back so this box reminded me of some great memories today. #trytheworld #portugal #nicesurprise
chocolatephotographerIf you want to buy holiday gifts from small businesses this year, consider getting someone a luxury chocolate subscription box from @chococurb. Their products are the bomb! #christmasgift #giftideas #chocolate #chococurb #chocolatesubscription #luxurychocolate #craftchocolate #holidaygifts #products #food #foodphotography #productphotography #sweets

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.
athomewithnikkiReceived a nice and unexpected gift in the mail from @trytheworld . They had a nice note included stating they thought I would love their teal box 😃. I do like the box but really love the fact that the items in the box are all from Portugal. My girlfriends and I celebrated my 40th birthday in Portugal a few years back so this box reminded me of some great memories today. #trytheworld #portugal #nicesurprise
Although often considered a splurge, subscription boxes can be quite the little life-savers. Say you always forget to buy razor blades until it’s too late (read: you’ve got serious razor burn)? There’s a subscription box for that. Never remember to eat breakfast in morning and feel totally drained by noon? There’s a subscription box for that. Or maybe you never have anything fun (cough, cough, educational) to do with your kids on a rainy day. Yep, there’s even a box for that. While you can’t possibly sign-up for them all, we’ve rounded up the top-rated options to help you make the best choice.
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