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My Subscription Addiction: A Finance-Friendly Way to Indulge a Love of Discovery

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Are the free product samples your favorite part of any Sephora order you place? Do you love discovering new makeup brands at the Nordstrom beauty counter? Or noshing on complimentary snacks as you cruise the aisles at Costco or Sam’s Club? How about the excitement of opening a box when you have no idea what it contains? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will probably enjoy the subscription box experience.

According to Liz Cadman, founder of My Subscription Addiction, the subscription box trend began in 2010 with the launch of Birchbox, a monthly delivery of beauty samples that’s still going strong today. The industry has grown rapidly, and subscriptions are now available for almost anything you can imagine, from clothing, accessories and toys, to snacks, meals, wine, home goods and more.

1 Million Visitors Each Month and Growing

Cadman was an early subscription box fan who fell in love with Birchbox and wanted to keep the excitement going throughout the month with additional subscription deliveries.

“A lot of subscription boxes offer a pretty good discount if you sign up for several months at once,” she recalled, “so I could really stretch my dollar and sign up for as many as I could afford. But I didn’t want to commit to one without knowing if I’d like it.”

She did some online research and discovered that no one was currently reviewing the subscription boxes that were available. She decided to do it herself and launched My Subscription Addiction in 2012 as a blog offering her opinion on the various boxes she tried.

Little did she know thousands of other consumers were looking for exactly the kind of information she was providing. The blog has since grown into a full-fledged website featuring a subscription box directory, industry news and coupons, and about 20 new subscription service reviews per day. It receives over 1 million website visitors each month and provides full-time employment for six plus reviewers and work for about two dozen part-time independent contractors.

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Cadman and her team recently built out several new features for the website including a discussion forum and swapping capabilities.

“Our goal is really to help people find the best subscription boxes for them as well as make the most of each subscription,” she said. “We don’t want them to feel like they’re stuck with an item that isn’t a good fit.”

Thanks to the new swapping platform, My Subscription Addiction visitors can now trade the products they receive with others. Cadman said people were doing it anyways, but she “wanted to provide a better way for them to do it with more protocols in place so they could have a feedback system and more trust.”

More than 6,000 Different Subscription Boxes

My Subscription Addiction’s directory currently lists more than 6,000 subscription boxes with new ones added every day. We asked Cadman to recommend a few of her favorites.

FabFitFun VIP Box – With an average four-star rating by more than 1,800 consumers, Cadman said this subscription box, which is delivered each quarter for $49.95, includes at least nine full-size items. “It offers a good mix of really great brands in beauty and fashion, fitness and home items,” she added. “I recommend it for just about anyone.”

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Birchbox – “This one is still great,” Cadman said. “I’ve discovered a large percentage of the beauty products I use every day through Birchbox.” The $10 monthly subscription box has an average four-star rating by more than 2,280 consumers and contains four to five makeup, skincare, haircare and perfume samples in each delivery.

BarkBox – “I have a dog named Buckles and he is obsessed with his BarkBox subscription,” Cadman said. Shipped monthly for $29, each BarkBox contains a variety of healthy treats and toys. If you commit to six months, you can currently get BarkBox for only $19 per delivery. The subscription has an average four-star rating from 350 consumers.

Maximum Fun for Minimal Risk

If you’re careful to read the fine print, check out consumer reviews for past boxes, and avoid unestablished services, Cadman said the risks of indulging in subscription boxes are minimal.

“I recommend starting out with a cheaper subscription box,” she advised consumers who have never given the industry a try. “There are lots of great boxes out there for $10 or less a month.” You can also check My Subscription Addiction for coupons that enable you to try out a new subscription box without paying full price.

Using PayPal to pay for your box subscription is also wise. “That way, if you have an issue with the subscription, you can cancel it through your PayPal account without having to contact the company,” Cadman added. “If you’re looking at a new subscription box and they don’t offer PayPal as an option, I would not buy that one just yet.”

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