12 Things to Know Before Signing Up for a Subscription Service

We're debunking common misconceptions and clarifying your questions about ever-popular subscription services.

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 They're a great way to budget your retail spend

happyCourtesy Love GoodlyWith any subscription service, you can count on spending a set price per delivery. This means that you'll get your fix of new products to test and enjoy, without ever having to worry that you'll exceed your budget as you might when shopping at normal stores. For example, boxes from LOVE GOODLY, a service that delivers eco-friendly, vegan, and natural products every other month, will always cost you $29.95, a very reasonable price to pay for a box full of high-value goodies. Knowing that a package of new products is always on its way, you'll be less likely make unnecessary purchases in the interim. You'll love these fashion tips to look like you spent a lot on your outfit, even when you didn't.

These fun deliveries can improve your happiness

happyCourtesy FabFitFun"Studies have shown that trying new things leads to increased happiness, so we see ourselves as a happiness membership," says Michelle Kim of FabFitFun, a quarterly subscription service providing beauty, fashion, and fitness items. "Our team of experts is obsessed with finding the best products from both established and emerging brands. We have our finger on the pulse of the latest trends and spend months testing out products so that each season our members receive a mix of amazing finds that inspire happiness and make their lives better." (If you're looking to feel more upbeat, try these 13 things for a happier home.)

You can cancel at any time

cancelCourtesy FabFitFunMany people are put off by the idea of a subscription service out of fear that they'll be locked into a contract for a year or more. However, contrary to this popular belief, most subscription services actually allow to you cancel at any time, or simply try a one-time box before you get on board. "With the FabFitFun box, members can choose between a seasonal or annual subscription, but are not locked into any time frame and can cancel at any time," says Kim.

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You can't know exactly what you're getting

exactlyCourtesy FabFitFunOne thing to keep in mind about subscription services is that you can have a general idea of what you've signed up for by looking at past boxes and seeing which fields the company promotes (pets, fashion, health, etc.). However, the exact contents always take on the element of surprise. For example, if you sign up for makeup subscription boxes BirchBox or GlossyBox, you'll know that you're getting a subscription of makeup and skincare goodies, and hopefully you'll love all contents. But if it does happen to contain items you already own or don't particularly need, you're out of luck.

They aren't only for millennials

millennialsCourtesy FabFitFunWhile subscription services may seem like a fairly new concept, these boxes aren't solely designed for the millennial demographic. "Because our products cover such a wide range of categories, our ideal subscriber transcends age," says Kim. "We have members ages 15 to 85; anyone who loves fashion, beauty, fitness, home products, and everything in between enjoys a FabFitFun membership." Justine Lassoff, co-founder  of LOVE GOODLY says it also appeals to women of all ages who "seek a healthier lifestyle, enjoy saving money without sacrificing quality, and also those who live a cruelty-free or vegan lifestyle." (But if you are a millennial, you'll love these mind-blowing facts about selfies.)

Many services have a philanthropic side

philanthropicCourtesy Love GoodlySomething that's unique about subscription services is that they genuinely aim to improve the lives of their members. Alongside this positive mission, many subscription companies find ways to give back. LOVE GOODLY supports a cause with each purchase, and has partnered with Farm Sanctuary, Cure Cervical Cancer, and Beagle Freedom Project. FabFitFun chooses a new charitable partner every season. "Our most recent box supported an organization called More Than Me, whose mission is to use education as a catalyst for change for every woman and girl in Liberia. Previous charitable partners included The Starlight Foundation, Pencils of Promise, The Purple Purse Foundation, and Tribe Alive," says Kim. Do some charitable giving of your own by donating your used books.

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There are no refunds

refundsCourtesy FabFitFunWhole subscription service boxes are non-refundable, as are individual items you may not like, or any add-ons you've ordered. If you aren't certain that you want a subscription service, don't pay for a full year in advance, as that's non-refundable as well. If you're a picky person, your best option is to do a monthly subscription and cancel before your next billing date, should you be unhappy. If you cancel after your monthly deadline, you will be charged for the upcoming box—so pay attention to your billing dates!

You can tailor each box to your taste

tasteCourtesy FabFitFunYou needn't worry about disliking the contents of your box, as you have the option to partially customize your gifts. Both LOVE GOODLY and FabFitFun have introduced the option to choose one item included in each subscription box, plus you can add any individual items you've had your eye on. "Members can further customize their boxes with add-on items that include a selection of 100+ FabFitFun favorites, at up to 60 percent off," says Kim. "Annual members are a part of our "Select" program and have the opportunity to control their product variations each season. Select members choose options like the pattern of a scarf, color of lip gloss, or scent of a candle."

You'll save big on full-size products

full-sizeCourtesy FabFitFunThere's a common misconception that all subscription boxes are full of tiny, sample-sized products, but this is absolutely not the case! As Kim notes, "Unlike other subscription services, over 95 percent of FabFitFun products are full-size, which are of much greater value than a sample." So, no, you're not going to run out of products after a few uses or need to restock—these full-size items will last you a long time, and you're getting them at a ridiculous fraction of the cost. For example, LOVE GOODLY's $29.95 boxes are valued at over $75, while FabFitFun's $49.99 quarterly boxes are worth more than $200 each.

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There are ways to save money on your subscription

saveCourtesy FabFitFunBefore signing up for a subscription service, look out for referral programs or newsletter sign-ups that provide a discount. We know FabFitFun has a referral service that earns you $15 in credits each time a friend joins, and if you're interested in LOVE GOODLY, use our code "READER5" for $5 off your first box (valid through June 30, 2017)! Learn more about the habits of great money-savers.

There are niche subscriptions for every interest

nicheCourtesy FabFitFunIf you're interested in the subscription service model, do some research to see which niche boxes peak your interest. Are you a wine connoisseur? If so, check out Winc. For more snacks, look at NatureBox. Do you love your pup? There's even a subscription service called BarkBox that delivers treats and toys for your pet. You can even revamp your personal style with the help of StitchFix. Trust us, if you have a unique hobby, there's a subscription service for you.

They make for excellent gifts

giftCourtesy Love GoodlyIf you aren't personally interested in receiving a fun, exciting box of goodies on a regular basis (though we can't see how that's possible), remember that subscription services make for excellent gifts. Whether you want to send someone a one-off box on their birthday or sign them up for a full year, you can be certain that they'll love having these happy surprises delivered to their door.

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