For the past few days I have been looking at subscription boxes. I know Manda has blogged about a few makeup and beauty related ones, and I remember Ivy blogging about Phone Case of the Month. I like the idea of buying a subscription to something that interests you, and receiving something in the mail every month.
I have never subscribed to anything, not even a magazine, and generally, the idea of paying for something on a monthly basis automatically makes me think of bills. Even my mobile phone bill is pre-paid. When it comes to monthly subscriptions I also tend to think about what I would otherwise spend my money on. Probably the same things I would buy with a subscription, but not every month. For instance, a jewellery box subscription is about $30 a month. I honestly don’t spend $30 a month on jewellery. I spend less than that.
Food, jewellery, makeup, clothes…?
I browsed My Subscription Addiction, which is a great blog that reviews subscription boxes. The website thankfully allows you to filter boxes that send to Australia. Sadly, a lot of the boxes I was interested in only ship to the US and/or Canada. There are some based in Australia, but they mostly have beauty or makeup products, which I am not really interested in. I am not such a fan of trying new products when it comes to makeup. With my mum working in makeup & skincare, I usually approach her for the best products.
That brings me to my next point – what I want in the box. I am definitely drawn to the jewellery boxes, which got me searching in the first place. I believe I stumbled upon RocksBox first, which doesn’t ship to Australia, but either way, I don’t like the idea of paying $19 a month just to rent jewellery (you get three pieces a month, and you return them at the end of the month, otherwise you pay for the pieces at a member’s price).
Subscription boxes exist for many things – food, clothing, underwear, makeup, sporting goods. There is even one for tea, which is based in Australia, but Emi said that $13 for approximately 50 grams a month is not really a good deal. Especially not with us being tea fanatics and drinking at least five mugs a day. Emi got me a cute teapot for my birthday, by the way! I keep it on my desk at work and it serves me well (as it should). It seems nice that Mr Earl, the subscription service I just referred to, gives you a good variety of tea, but knowing me, I would go through the entire month’s worth in two days.
Shipping is always the nasty, extra, almost-hidden fee. It’s not always in the fine print, it’s sometimes right there for you to see (“FREE SHIPPING!” … I wish); otherwise you have to spend a while putting things in your cart and seeing what the shipping adds up to, after you put in your shipping address. Damn.
I found Nerd Block, which looks pretty promising for $20 or so a month, and shipping is free. You get a shirt and a handful of other nerdy/geeky stuff. I’m not too sure I really want or need a shirt every month, though, and I don’t like every single fandom out there.
I love the look of Indie Gift Box, which sends you handmade, limited supply items, but shipping is $20 a month to Australia, almost as much as the box itself ($25). It turned me off, because that is no longer great value. There are some that ship internationally for free, but the price of the box is still at least $40. I probably sound like a cheapskate, given that I am getting more value in the actual box, but it reminds me of those super duper deals where they put a lot of excess stock in a box and sell it for a really cheap price.
Like the good old Easter show bag
The Sydney Royal Easter Show is held for a period of three weeks to a month here in Sydney, every year around Easter. The showbags are always a big deal. You can get lots of candy, backpacks, toys, magic tricks, snacks, and other miscellaneous things, for under $20 a bag. The retail value is always up to or more than a hundred dollars. But on closer inspection, half the stuff in it is not very useful. Bowling coupons, old magazine issues, lots of samples, cheap toys that break, bags that aren’t good quality, and so on.
Usually you know what is in the showbags or you might have a general idea of what is inside them. In a way, these subscription boxes remind me of those showbags. A bag of goodies, but you don’t quite know what is inside. The value turns out to be not-so-great.
But it’s a surprise!
Yeah, I guess the fun isn’t really in the value, nor is the value always good. It’s more about the fact that you’re getting something delivered to you every month, and you only have a vague idea of what is inside. I think that is where the appeal comes from, even though I am inclined to think about value and price most of the time.
Of course comes the issue of whether you like what is in the box or not, because you don’t often have the option of returning the product/s. I have looked at a few reviews and seen photos of some boxes, and often I don’t think I will like what is inside, so I don’t look any further. If the preview doesn’t buy me, then that’s that.
Given that I have never really gotten into subscriptions, that is probably why they don’t appeal to me right now. I would see it as a large chunk of my pay out every month if I were into them! I often think about how people can afford to buy coffee every day, or lunch every day, because it really adds up over the course of a week or two. I only do so occasionally. But in the same vein, if subscriptions give you good value, then thirty dollars a month is cheaper than a coffee a day. :)
Sounds like fun.
But all in all, the idea is definitely still appealing, and I will probably try to find a subscription box that suits my needs and interests, and one that I won’t be such a cheapskate about. But what I do want to try, after a certain period, is to see whether the same amount of money will get me as much value per month if I shopped myself.
At this point I am thinking that I’ll go for a jewellery box for six months, then see about spending the same amount per month. I’ll probably get better quality products in the subscription since I like to buy my jewellery on sale, but who knows. I’ll keep you updated.
What is your opinion on subscription boxes? Any suggestions for ones that ship to Australia?
Thumbnail image from RocksBox.