If going to the supermarket at the moment is something that you can’t face – or that you’re unable to do due to self-isolation – then subscription boxes may provide an answer. Business has been booming for these products over the past couple of years, and that seems set to continue for the foreseeable future. You can pick up a subscription for everything from food to beauty treats to novelty socks; simply sign up for a monthly (or quarterly fee) to get a box of goodies delivered directly to your door. But is it all worth it?
At the moment, convenience is a high priority for those of us isolating at home and trying to limit trips outdoors. For this reason alone, many popular boxes may well be worth the extra cost if you can afford it. It’s important to be aware, though, that you’ll may pay more by subscribing for a box than you would shopping for similar items yourself.
One particularly interesting option is meal kit subscriptions – things like Hello Fresh and Gousto. You’re likely to be paying a premium compared to shopping at the supermarket (particularly if you usually limit yourself to a frugal budget), but you’ll also be getting high quality ingredients and recipes that show you how to put together healthy and tasty meals. Add this to the convenience of home delivery and the time that’s saved by letting somebody else pick out your products and it can start to look like quite a good deal.
One of the key distinctions to make between different types of boxes is whether or not you get to choose the items inside. With the meal kits, you’ll get to select which recipes you want to receive out of a small list. This is important, because it means that you can tailor the box to suit your family’s tastes.
When it comes to looking at other types of subscription boxes, it’s important to consider whether you can choose what you want to receive. With the Dollar Shave Club, for instance, you can be pretty sure of what you’re getting for your money: they’ll send out high quality razors and other grooming products. Comparatively, a beauty subscription like Birchbox will send you a selection of surprise items. Although they’re typically good value for money, at least some of the products you receive are likely to be things you wouldn’t have usually bought.
Before deciding whether a box is good value for you, we recommend considering the following points:
- Will I want all (or most) of what I receive? Try to get a good sense of what has been sent out in previous boxes.
- Would it be cheaper and easier for me to buy a single item?
- Is it easy to cancel? Some boxes will also let you take a break for a couple of months.
Finally, think about how well it fits into your budget. If you’re able to afford it comfortably and you like the look of what’s inside the box, the purchase can be worth it even if it’s a luxury. For boxes that bring essentials, like meal kits, remember that you’ll also be saving money elsewhere.