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Can online subscription services help you save time and money? Here’s our take

What we'll cover

  • Different types of services you can subscribe to

  • How subscription services can offer discounted prices

  • Tips to get the most out of your subscriptions

These days, make a few clicks online, and a purchase ends up on your doorstep or on your device. With just a couple more clicks, you can have repeat buys automatically delivered on a regular basis via a subscription service.

Whether you’re looking for the everyday basics or something to spice up your life, there’s a subscription for just about everything. Subscription services for products you buy regularly can save you money and plenty of trips to the store — so read on to learn more about the perks of subscribing, the plethora of categories you can have delivered, and how to be a smart subscription shopper.

Subscribe to savvier shopping

One of the biggest perks of using subscription services for household items, groceries, and more is the potential to save money. That’s because a lot of these services offer discounted prices on items compared to what you’d pay in store, and often you’ll find the longer your subscription terms, the more you can save. Many subscription services are direct-to-consumer (or DTC) companies, meaning they don’t work with a middleman — which lets them cut costs and keep prices lower.

Depending on the category, you may find subscriptions can save you money in other ways too. For example, meal kits tend to send the exact measurements of ingredients you need, eliminating the need to buy pantry items you’ll only use once, like spices or sauces, ultimately reducing food waste. And many beauty and toiletry subscription services cut out the pink tax — an upcharge placed on female-marketed products that can cost women hundreds of dollars a year.

Finally, subscription services reduce the need to visit the store — which is not only a time-intensive activity, but can be a gateway to purchasing more than you might need. By using automated deliveries, you can be sure you’ll get exactly what you want, when you want it. Not to mention, it’s easy to factor your subscriptions into a budget when knowing the price will be steady month-to-month.

What can you subscribe to?

Whether you’re looking for things to stock your medicine cabinet or pantry, or need style advice on what to wear to your next Zoom call, there’s a variety of subscription services that can help you shop smarter, faster, and potentially for a better price.

Many subscription services are direct-to-consumer (or DTC) companies, meaning they don’t work with a middleman — which lets them cut costs and keep prices lower.

Household necessities

Nobody likes pulling off the last sheet of toilet paper or squeezing the ketchup bottle to get the final drop. With a service like Amazon Subscribe and Save , which lets you set up auto deliveries on thousands of every day products, you can skip running out to the store and have your go-to items shipped to you on a regular basis. Added bonus: You receive a discount for each item you subscribe to.

Clothing and accessories

Love to shop? A clothing subscription can help you stay within your monthly fashion budget. Stitch Fix acts as your regular personal shopper, sending you a box of clothes based off of your answers to a questionnaire. Keep the ones you want and ship back the rest. (Delivery cadence and price of clothing varies.) Nuuly, a premium subscription clothing rental, delivers designer labels and vintage looks to you on a monthly basis for $88 and allows you to buy the items you determine you can’t live without. Other services like thredUP, Fabletics, and Society Socks let you narrow in on specifics such as secondhand clothes, fitness attire, and, yes, socks.

Toiletries and makeup

Chances are you replace things like toothpaste, bodywash, and shaving cream pretty regularly. Tons of services can knock out that drug store trip and save you from paying that pesky pink tax. Subscriptions like IPSY and Birchbox deliver beauty products tailored to your needs and preferences each month for $12 to $15. Subscriptions also exist for must-have bathroom products like Quip for toothbrushes, Prose for hair care, and Dollar Shave Club and Billie for razors. These subscriptions range from $9 to $40 a month and can be cheaper than drug store prices.

Pet supplies

The furry friends in your house provide priceless companionship, but supplying their needs can cost a pretty penny. Some services, like Chewy , help you meet their basic needs for less by offering delivery of food and medications for a wide variety of pets (prices vary), while others like BarkBox send a customized package of treats and toys for $20 to $30 a month. You may find that you can score cheaper prices on your Kibbles 'n Bits than you would at a big box retailer.

Kids R Us

Give the little ones an exciting delivery to look forward to. Subscriptions from Pipsticks (stickers) KiwiCo (STEM, STEAM, science, and art kits), and Bookroo (children’s books) are bound to excite your kiddos — and give you some time to relax. These boxes start at $12 a month.


Maybe you already get streaming content from Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and the like. For other forms of entertainment, subscribe to PressReader for access to thousands of digital newspapers and magazines ($30 a month) or Scribd, which provides you with ebooks, audiobooks, sheet music, and more ($10 a month). If you’re an audiobook aficionado, try an Audible subscription ($15 a month) using the service’s app on your phone. And gamers can access more than 100 games each month ($15) via the Xbox Ultimate subscription.

Groceries and meal planning

After a long day at work, finding a recipe and making sure you have all of the right ingredients can make dinner more difficult than it needs to be. So skip the last minute trip to the grocery store. Subscription services like HelloFresh and Blue Apron can help you eat healthy on a budget by delivering quick recipes and their corresponding ingredients on a weekly basis. Three meals for two people cost around $40 a week. If you want to have more freedom with what you cook, subscription services like Butcher Box and Imperfect Foods deliver meat and veggies on a frequent basis ($30 to $80 a week for a two-person household). And if you have a sweet tooth, try Jeni’s Pint Club, which sends small batch ice cream to your doorstep.


Enjoy your own personal sommelier, courtesy of Winc. Subscribe, then take a quiz about your taste preferences, and curated bottles of wine will be mailed to you. Or if you prefer spirits, Falviar has you covered. Both services cost around $40 a month, but prices vary based on how many bottles you order.


Whether you’re looking to stretch it out in yoga or target your core with a HIIT class, you can get fit on a budget by streaming thousands of workouts straight to your phone through popular fitness subscriptions including Glo, Peloton, Les Mills, and Obe. These services range from $15 to $30 a month, which adds up to major savings compared to in-person classes or a membership at a boutique fitness studio.

How to be smart with your subscriptions

Aside from the convenience and excitement subscriptions offer, they can be a money saver, as mentioned earlier — but only if used wisely. Below are a few tips to help you maximize your enrollment and prevent overspending on subscription services .

Find free trials

Many subscription services offer free trials (or a discount) on your first order, which you can use as an opportunity to determine whether or not you think the items are worth it. Take note: In some instances, when you sign up for a free trial, you’re automatically subscribed to the service. If you decide you don’t want to continue, be sure to cancel your subscription before the billing date.

Set up reminders

Some companies send you a notification before your subscription ships, allowing you to modify or even cancel it. If you don’t get a reminder, set one up on your phone for a week or two before your renew date, so you can adjust your subscription if need be.         

Save your savings   

In an already tight budget, it can be difficult to find money to save. But any cash you save by subscribing can be set aside to help you reach your various financial goals . Total up the amount you are saving on toiletries, dog food, or grocery subscriptions and transfer that amount into your Online Savings Account each month. Even if you only put away several dollars a week, your microsavings will add up over time.

Don’t assume subscriptions are always the cheapest option

Subscriptions offer the convenience of bringing both your needs and your wants to your front door. But unless you’re careful, they could cost you more in the long run. Be smart about what you enroll in: Compare how much it would cost you to go to the store to purchase your items versus subscribing to them. And if you have any subscriptions that you don’t really use, consider cancelling them.

Ready to click “subscribe”?

Finding the right subscription can make dinner time easier, keep you amused, and help you stay on top of stocking your house with the basic essentials. To get the most out of them, subscribe to ones that enable you to save money — and make that savings work for you by setting it aside. That’s a move worth subscribing to!

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