From food, fitness and fashion to puzzles, houseplants and gadgets, there's a subscription box for every taste and every hobby.The convenience of receiving cool merch, tailored to your personal needs, at your doorstep plus the eager anticipation of getting a surprise package in the mail (which totally brings out the inner child in all of us, btw), makes subscription boxes the best gift you can give to yourself or a loved one.
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.
What’s the Return Policy? With many services, you’re stuck with whatever you get in your monthly box. Others let you return items you don’t want – but it isn’t always easy. Before you sign a contract, check it for details about how long you have to return items, how many items you’re allowed to return, and whether you have to pay return shipping costs.
These days, you can get nearly anything in a monthly subscription box. From beauty sample boxes to meal delivery services, these companies will deliver a fresh selection of products to your door, month after month, for a flat monthly fee. People love subscription boxes for their convenience and the thrill of getting a surprise package each month. And with prices as low as $10 a month, they can look like an unbeatable deal.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spice up things in the bedroom with this collection of different sensual products — perfect for those Saturday nights when the kids are sleeping at their friends' houses. You can choose from the lube of the month ($10/month), a toy of the month ($25/month), or the full on Spice Box, which features two full-size items, one or two "intimate" items, and two to three trial-size items.
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!