Why It’s Time to Cancel That Damn Subscription Box

Why It’s Time to Cancel That Damn Subscription Box
Photo: Iryna Imago, Shutterstock

Most consumers sign up for subscription boxes for convenience, cost savings, or the thrill of discovery, but they also underestimate the cost of their subscriptions overall, and can overpay for stuff long after the novelty fades. After all, do you really need to spend $140 on three pairs of black socks every month? With that in mind, here are some guidelines on when to cancel a subscription box.

Only subscribe for stuff you buy already

The subscription box industry has matured well beyond meal kits, booze, and beauty boxes. Pretty much anything can be mailed monthly: marshmallows, rubber stamps, pickled food, vegan jerky, books, puzzles, stickers, action figures, slime, or even animal skulls―you name it.

But the more esoteric these subscriptions are, the less likely you’ll actually need a monthly supply of whatever they might contain. Sure, getting a box in the mail can be fun, but you’ll want to put a price on that thrill, too. To do so, ask yourself if you would have normally bought what came in the box if it wasn’t mailed to your door already. For example, if you don’t normally spend $325 on rubber stamps or hot sauce within a year, a $30/month subscription probably isn’t worth the commitment.

Junk any underused “aspirational” boxes

Beware of any subscription box that smacks of self-improvement, whether that’s fitness gadgets, art supplies, or books you normally wouldn’t read. Why? For the same reason that 63% people never use the gym but keep paying: buying decisions based on best intentions in the moment can be undercut by a lack of commitment later. As The Hustle points out, this buying behaviour is known as “precommitment,” and it can easily turn into a perpetual cycle of promising yourself to use a product or service because it’s good for you, even if there’s no sign that will ever happen.

Follow the “cancel after two delayed orders” rule

Putting aside days in which you’re travelling or don’t plan to be home, consider cancelling a subscription if you’ve delayed or deferred two orders in a row, as you’re likely receiving more product than you actually need. An alternative option, if possible, is to “right size” or reduce your order, like dropping a meal kit order from three meals down to two a week (subscription companies increasingly offer tiered options to avoid losing subscribers).

Conduct a subscription audit every year

Since the average person spends roughly $340 on subscriptions, it can be easy to lose track of what you don’t actually need.

Check out this Lifehacker post on how to conduct a subscription audit, which is worth doing at least once a year.

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