I have a drugstore problem.
Send me in to make a quick toothpaste run, and I’ll come out 45 minutes later with vitamins, makeup, a novelty onesie and four boxes of Cap’n Crunch. (It’s rude not to when they’re buy one, get one free, you know?)
Inevitably, what should be a $5 purchase turns into $50.
Fortunately, I know I’m a slave to impulse buying and take measures to have everyday essentials delivered via subscription boxes to cut my risk of exposure.
Am I hungry for Cap’n Crunch now that I no longer shop in stores? Yes.
Am I saving money? In more ways than I thought I would.
The 5 Best Subscription Boxes for Saving Money
Services like Birchbox and Le Tote specialize in hooking you on items that you want but don’t really need. But there are some monthly boxes that can actually save you money.
Here’s how to cut the cost of essentials such as toilet paper and contact lenses and have them delivered free of charge.
If you’ve ever known The Fear associated with running out of toilet paper, Sudz Club is your latrine lifesaver. It doesn’t end at TP, either. At first glance, $29.99 may seem steep, but every box comes loaded with bathroom essentials from well-known brands
What you get: A “COVID-19” essentials box comes with toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, toilet paper and hand sanitizer and costs $31.99. The “Advanced” box also includes shaving cream and a razor and costs $39.99. The “Premium” box adds floss, condoms, pads or tampons, lip balm and lotion and costs $59.99.
What it costs: Prices start at $29.99 per month. Sudz Club claims each subscription box has a value of at least $85. Shipping is free.
Don’t own an electric toothbrush? I don’t blame you. While the basic Sonicare option is $39.99, products get pricier with every bell and whistle added. A partnership between dentists and designers, Quip offers a range of simple, affordable and surprisingly attractive electric toothbrushes.
What you get: A super sleek electric toothbrush with built-in sensors and quadrant timers.
What it costs: $25 for a starter set; $5 every three months for refills.
Dollar Shave Club
Penny Hoarder editor Dana Sitar has discussed her love affair with Dollar Shave Club at length. Staff writer Carson Kohler even listed it as one of her top ways to take care of yourself while saving money. Really good razor blades, delivered when you need them at a fraction of the price you’d pay in stores? It’s a win in everyone’s book.
What you get: Four stainless steel, four-blade cartridges a month with a sleek razor handle and shave butter to get you started. Replacement cartridges and shave butter every two months after.
What it costs: Choose from three razor packages that range from $4-$10 per month. Shipping is free. You can also purchase other products from the site and can indicate how often you want them delivered. Read more about how it works here.
Replacing your air filter on a regular basis doesn’t just remove toxins from your home. It can also lower your monthly energy bill and prevent expensive repairs. But it’s yet another maintenance task to remember, which is why I love Second Nature: Its delivery is a reminder to change the filter.
What you get: One high-quality air filter. You set the schedule, meaning filters arrive as frequently as you want.
What it costs: As little as $12 per filter. See all the price options here.
As an avid home cook, I was aghast to learn my trusty, hard-working kitchen sponge is probably the dirtiest thing I own. That bacteria-breeding hotbed went straight into the trash after I read about this study. Experts suggest swapping out your sponge every week, which is where Sponge Club comes in.
What you get: Four high-quality sponges every month.
What it costs: $4.44 per month.
Ready to Sign Up for a Subscription Box? Read This First
The endless choice and convenience, coupled with the seemingly affordable nature of subscription boxes, can make it easy to overspend. If you’re not careful, monthly charges will rack up and you’ll be overloaded with products you barely use.
To save money, be selective and focus on things you buy regularly.
Can I survive without a rotating borrowed closet every month? Yes.
Do I need shampoo, contact lenses and kitchen sponges? Yes.
Having answered these questions, I won’t entertain fashion-based subscription boxes, as much as I’d love a never-ending carousel of new dresses.
But I will subscribe to those that offer items I use on an almost daily basis. You know how much you generally spend on everyday essentials, which makes it easier to spot a good subscription box deal.
Kerry Bailey is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.