Monthly subscription boxes are all the rage these days. Take a quick glance online and you’ll likely find hundreds of options to suit any interest. These services deliver a themed box of something, or a collection of somethings, to your door each month.
Many are just for fun, and these can make great gifts. For Christmas this year, my husband bought me a three-month subscription to the Book(ish) Box, which includes a book quote tee shirt and other book-lover paraphernalia each month. It was lots of fun, but definitely not a money-saver.
We’ve also had a subscription to the Kiwi Crate, one of the first subscription boxes on the market that I heard about. This one sends you two to four crafts for kids each month, complete with all the supplies and instructions. Again, it was a lot of fun for my four-year-old, but not necessarily frugal.
But that doesn’t mean that subscription boxes can’t save you money. In fact, some of the “fun” boxes like the two I just mentioned do provide real value for your money. The Book(ish) Box, for instance, is around $30 per month, but comes with a tee shirt that would retail for at least $20 plus several other items each month.
Check out mysubscriptionaddiction.com, and you’ll find customer reviews showing that many of these monthly deliveries give you good bang for your buck.
But what if you’re looking to save money on things you actually need or use on a regular basis, rather than on fun additions to your life? You can find that online, too. Here are just 14 monthly subscription boxes that could actually save you money:
- Dollar Shave Club – This is one of the subscription boxes my family actually uses. And, let me tell you, it is much cheaper than buying razors at the Walgreens around the corner. And it’s much more comfortable than settling on cheap, one-blade razors.
Your first box comes with one handle for free. Then, you can choose your level of razor blade, from the $1/month (plus $2.00 shipping) basic blade to the $9/month (with free shipping) high-end blade. After the first box, you’ll get four blades in your mailbox each month. You can change your razor plan or switch to every-other-month delivery easily, too.
Big Saver? If you use more than one or two razor cartridges a month and need a smooth shave, Dollar Shave Club will almost certainly save you money.
- Fabletics – If you frequently work out and are constantly burning through workout clothes, Fabletics could save you some money. As with many other clothing-based subscription boxes, this one starts with a questionnaire on your preferences and sizes. Then, you’ll get a monthly box for $49.95 per month, which usually represents a steep discount.
Big Saver? This is a good option for people who truly need new exercise-wear frequently. But if your yoga pants are everyday-wear and last for months at a time, you could probably skip this one.
- Quip – Did you know you’re supposed to replace your toothbrush every three months? True story. Chalk this subscription box up to the “things you’re supposed to replace but always forget to replace” category.
Similarly to Dollar Shave Club, Quip sends you an original box, which includes a plastic ($25) or metal ($40) electric toothbrush handle and a wall-mount or travel cover. Then, you’ll get new bristles for your brush for $5 every three months. Or, you could pay $10 every three months for both new bristles and toothpaste.
Big Saver? This one really can be a money saver, since toothbrushes are things you need on a regular basis. And since toothbrushes can be inexplicably expensive, $5 every three months isn’t a bad deal!
- Wine of the Month Club – If you’re constantly hunting for new wines to try or just like to keep your wine rack full for when you have company, Wine of the Month Club could save you some cash. For about $23 per month, depending on the type of subscription you choose, you can get a bottle of wine delivered to your door monthly.
Big Saver? Maybe. If you’re big on drinking wine, $23/bottle for quality wines (and some variety!) isn’t a bad deal.
- Club W – Want more wine for less money? Club W may be an option. It starts at $39 per month with a $6 per month shipping fee. That’s more expensive than the Wine of the Month club, but it also comes with three bottles of wine per month. So you’re paying just $15 per bottle, which isn’t bad. Plus, they’ll give you a quiz to find out what kinds of wines you prefer up front.
Big Saver? Again, this one could save you money if wine is something you already buy frequently. If wine is an infrequent luxury in your home, on the other hand, this box would be a good splurge but not great savings.
- The Honest Company – If you’re a stickler for using all-natural products in your home, subscription boxes from The Honest Company could be a good option for you. They offer a variety of monthly boxes, including personal care and home cleaning essentials, diapers and wipes, health and wellness products, and organic baby formula.
All-in-all, the bundles are a good deal if you’re planning to buy products like these, anyway. They’ll knock anywhere from 25% to 40% off of the list price of the products, which are comparably priced to similar organic and all-natural products from health stores.
Big Saver? If buying organic and natural is important to you, Honest Company bundles could be a great way for you to save. Of course, you can get the conventional versions of these products elsewhere for less money. But if organic is your thing, you could save some serious cash with one of these bundles.
- Gwynnie Bee – This is another clothing subscription service, but it’s geared specifically towards “plus sized” women. It’s a try-it-and-buy-it service. You can basically rent items, and then buy them at a discounted price if you decide to keep them. If you only wear an item a few times, you can return it and check something else out in its place.
The plans aren’t necessarily monthly on this one. You can have one to three items out at a time, and you’ll get free shipping and returns with unlimited exchanges. So you can have items going in and out at different times, depending on your preferences. If you don’t want to return a piece, you can just buy it at the discounted rate.
Big Saver? This one is probably a good fit for professional women who need to keep their wardrobe in style through all seasons. At $49 to $95 per month, it can get pretty pricey. But if this helps keep you from dropping hundreds every season on new clothes for work, it could be worth your investment.
- Stitch Fix – This subscription box works similarly to Gwynnie Bee, except that the sizes only go up to an XL or around a size 14. You’ll start with a personal style quiz, and you’ll get a personal stylist who will be able to tailor your clothing options to your style choices. There’s a $20 styling fee for your first box, but you’ll only pay for the items you actually keep.
One of the interesting things about Stitch Fix is that the personal stylists will actually suit your choices (each box includes five items) to your budget. You can buy the items you like at a fair price, and then get a 25% discount if you love and buy all five items in the box.
Big Saver? Again, this one would be the best fit for professionals who need to keep their clothing looking sharp season after season. But if you just hate shopping, this could also be a good investment. Whether or not it will save you money really depends on how much you tend to spend on clothing now, and what kind of budget Stitch Fix items put you on.
- BeanBox – If you, like me, can’t live without your morning cup of coffee, this could be a great subscription box option. Subscriptions are $20 per month, and you can save if you prepay for a few months’ worth of your subscription. The coffee comes from a variety of roasters and is tailored for your tastes. And it’s all fresh.
Big Saver? If you currently indulge only in Folgers, the BeanBox probably won’t save you money. But if you’re a coffee connoisseur and like to try new coffees, it could be a good way to get your morning Joe at a discount.
- Tea Sparrow – This is similar to BeanBox, but it’s for tea lovers. Subscriptions start at $20 per month, including free shipping. Each box includes about 35 servings of tea, and there are a variety of options included in each box.
Big Saver? Again, if you’re a tea lover who likes to try new things and already buys more expensive teas, this box could be an adventure that also saves you some cash. But if you regularly drink super-cheap tea from the supermarket, you won’t find any savings here.
- Gourmet Meal Services – There are loads of these services around right now. The three most popular at the moment are Plated, Blue Apron, and HelloFresh. They all operate on a similar concept: you pay for the subscription, and they’ll regularly send you healthy recipes with pre-measured ingredients so that you can conveniently cook at home.
Prices for the services range. Plated runs from $48 per week (plus $6 shipping) for two meals for two people to $96 per week for four meals for two people. Blue Apron runs from $59.94 for three meals for two people to a $139.83/week plan with four meals for four people. HelloFresh runs from $69 for three meals for two people to $129 for three meals for four people. It also offers a $105 family box, which includes three meals for four people (two of whom are assumed to be children).
The meal styles and options vary by each of these options. But most of the meals range in price from $7 to $10 per serving with each meal. Overall, that’s not a bad deal, especially if your other option is to eat out.
Big Saver? If you find yourself constantly eating out in the middle of weeknight craziness, one of these services could save you some serious cash. If, on the other hand, you’re a budget grocery shopper, you’ll probably find these prices higher than what you’ll pay to make your own meal plan and cook at home.
- Earring of the Month Club – If accessories are important to you, the Earring of the Month Club (EOTM) from Fair Trade Friday could save you money while keeping your collection up-to-date. For $10 to $12 per month (depending on whether or not you prepay), you can get a new pair of earrings each month. The earrings are made by artisans, typically women in Third World countries who are working their way out of poverty.
Big Saver? For women whose wardrobes rely heavily on good accessories, EOTM could be a great option. If you only wear earrings for special occasions, though, it’s more likely to be an indulgence for fun.
- FilterEasy – If you’re anything like my husband and me, changing the furnace filter regularly is not at the top of your to-do list. It seems like we always remember it at odd times, but are rarely anywhere we can just pick up a filter. This service sends you furnace filters just when you need them. The price ranges from $11.97 to $19.97 per filter, and you can set your filter to deliver anywhere from monthly to quarterly.
Big Saver? You can certainly pick up cheaper furnace filters from your local Wal-Mart or hardware store. But if you constantly forget to change your filter, you’re costing yourself money in utilities. Paying a small premium for furnace filters delivered just when you need them could save you some serious cash (as long as you actually remember to install the new filter when it arrives in the mail!).
- Amazon’s Subscribe and Save – Finally, if you’re a frequent Amazon shopper like me, you’ve probably seen the “Subscribe and Save” option when you’re checking out with food items, personal care items, or household cleaning supplies in your card. If you subscribe to get these items on a set schedule, usually monthly, but not always, you’ll get them at a discount.
For instance, you could pay $21.84 for a 16-pound bag of Purina ONE Dry Cat Food, or you could have it delivered every two months for a cost of $20.75. Or you could pay $21.99 for a 36-count package of Cottonelle CleanCare toilet paper, or have it delivered every two months for $20.89.
Subscribe and Save doesn’t give you huge savings, but if you use it for several items you need consistently, the savings could easily add up. Plus, if you buy five or more Subscribe and Save items in one transaction, you could save 15% on all those items. That’s 15% on those five or more items every month you have them delivered.
You’ll have a monthly Subscribe and Save delivery day with this option, and you can always cancel.
Big Saver? If you’re already using Amazon for home and personal care basics, Subscribe and Save could be a good way to save additional cash on items you buy regularly. Before you buy, though, do some price checking at your local grocery stores. If Amazon’s price comes close, find five good Subscribe and Save items, and you’ll net that additional 15% savings. (Just be prepared to deal with cardboard boxes. Lots and lots of cardboard boxes!)
The bottom line is that subscription services can typically save you money if they’re giving you things you already purchase. Adding a new line item to the budget just to indulge in new makeup, toys, books, or other items each month is a luxury. But subscription services on practical items like these could really save you money and streamline your life in the process.Topics: Smart Spending