Why I Canceled My Subscription Box Service

Today you can get a subscription box for just about anything. Companies will deliver meals, clothes, books, pet supplies, beauty supplies, shaving supplies, toys, crafts, and more to your door monthly and charge your account without you even having to think about it. While it might seem convenient and economic, there are drawbacks that you might not notice right away.

I have been what I call a “minimalist in training” for almost a decade. I’ve read Marie Kondo, Cait Flanders, Tammy Strobel, Courtney Carver, and Joshua Becker. I’ve watched Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things more than once, and my favorite websites have the word simple or less or purpose in the titles. I KNOW how to practice essentialism and minimalism, but from time to time good marketing has caught me off guard. I’m not saying subscription box services are bad or trying to trick you or swindle you. There are probably a lot of people who love them and find value in the service. I’m just not sure if you are trying to live a life with less that this is the way to go. Here’s why….

After being enticed by multiple adds on social media, I tried a meal plan subscription. I thought the service would save me time and money and might even make cooking fun. The plan was customizable and I could change delivery dates if I didn’t need a box one week. I thought I would eliminate waste not having to throw out expired goods and moldy produce from the grocery store. However, there was a lot of waste. The huge box and packing material filled up half of my huge outdoor trash can. The recipes were not always easy or fun and my family was not impressed with the meals I created. The plan also required me to be online quite a bit trying to decide which meal plan and recipes were best and scheduling and rescheduling deliveries. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t worth the money, time, or trash and quit.

Years later, I came across another service that was very popular on social media, so I gave it a try. I found all kinds of eco-friendly household products with prices comparable to a grocery store. Again, I thought this service would save me time and money and help save the planet! I got free shipping, numerous discounts, and even free products with each shipment. However, I was soon spending at least $20 each month on items I really didn’t need. I found myself scrolling through pages of products deciding which ones I should “try” and adding them to my cart. I was feeling happy cleaning with a delightfully scented product and I was doing something good when I bought toilet paper made from bamboo. It was not long before happiness was replaced with anxiety as products were starting to spill out of my cabinets. The “high” was wearing off and I realized these products were not really making me happy or bringing any real value to my life. I decided to cancel. I anticipated simply clicking a button to delete my account, but it was not that easy. I had to deactivate the service at one website and also go to my Pay Pal account and delete the subscription service from there as well.

In the end, there was really nothing those services provided me that was helpful or purposeful or that added value to my life but I can tell you what I lost.

  • Time – I was spending time scrolling through pages of products or meals rather than simply adding items I needed to a grocery list. I was spending a lot of time planning my online purchases or checking to see if I earned a free product.
  • Money – I was adding items to my cart on an impulse and making excuses for why I should purchase it. I kept saying, “Its only $20.” While $20 might not be a lot, I could have used it to share an experience with friends and family or to learn a skill. For example, I recently used what I would normally spend on a subscription box service and signed up for an online painting class. I’m loving it way more than my scented soap.
  • Space – All those cabinets I took time clearing out were again crowded and cluttered and my garbage can was overflowing from all the packaging.
  • Contentment – I was starting to feel that I needed all these items but soon felt guilty as I looked at the free hand lotion that I didn’t like or the cleanser that ended up not smelling good. Additionally, the bamboo paper towels didn’t tear easily and the free dish scrubber brush needed replacement scrubbers. I soon began to feel mad at myself for somehow going back to the clutter and chaos that I had abandoned long ago.

If you are considering a subscription box service, ask yourself:

  • Is this service really convenient? Are the products readily available at a store I shop at frequently?
  • Is there a service fee, shipping fee, or annual fee? Sometimes these are charged to your account without notice.
  • Why are you making the purchases? Is it something you really need or are you adding things to your cart on impulse because they are on sale, or you just want to try it out?
  • Are you using what you purchase or are products starting to pile up because they are not what you expected?
  • How easy is it to return an item? Consider the time and money it might cost to return an item (e.g., printing out labels, driving to post office, paying for postage).
  • How easy is it to cancel?

I am happy to report that I am subscription box free and feeling much better. I’m using up the last of the products and have given several items away. I am returning my simpler and happier way of living…..with less.

I’d love to know if you use a subscription box service or have in the past. What did you think of it?

Until next time…..be well!


Letting Go of Fashion Trends

When you are searching for what brings joy to your life, sometimes it can be helpful to take a look at what doesn’t bring you joy and let it go. For me, that would be shopping for trendy clothing. Actually, shopping of any kind drains me of joy, but for this post, I’ll focus on clothing.

When I was a child, in the 70s and 80s, there was a clothing brand called Granimals. Each clothing item had a tag that you matched together to form a color coordinated outfit. Tiger pants went with tiger shirts, lion shirts went with lion skirts. It was a no fail system that made shopping easy, gave you several options , and elimiated decision fatigue. My dream is for Granimals to return with a similar system for adults!

All my life I have stuggled with fashion and style. Until about 8th grade, my style was determined by my mom and there were plenty of battles. If I was brave, I would post my 7th grade school picture and you could get a good laugh. I wore a giant plaid bow around the collar of my discount Ralph Lauren oxford and my new hair style was far overdue for a cut. My 8th grade picture was a little better. I had a fresh hair cut and was allowed to wear make up. My outfit was from the mall, chosen by me. It was a only one of a few of outfits over many years that I really liked and felt comfortable in.

As the years went on and I was given more independence in choosing my clothes, I never seemed to figure out my style, which made me very self consious. Style only got more challenging and confusing as I got older. My high school class had over 600 students and there was a myriad of style groups, the cowgirls, the modern girls, the nerdy girls, the beachy girls, the girls that wore big bows, the ones that wore all black, and then there was me. I really never fit in with any one group although, I tried almost all of them. I remember one year I got a pair of white boots with fringe. I thought they were awesome and proudly wore them to school. My self-esteem was quickly deflated when a group of girls made fun of what I thought was trendy and cool. Just more evidence that I was not cool and really didn’t fit it anywhere when style was concerned.

You know, that part of your brain that puts together cute outfits and accessories? Mine is almost non-functioning. I want to look put together, but shopping for clothing is not at all fun for me, it’s torture. The sheer volume of options overwhelms me. I remember one year when I was in my 20s, my mom took me on a shopping spree, we went to boutiques, the mall, and outlet stores. She was surprised when I was ready to throw in the towel after only 8 hours! My sister shares my mother’s enthusiam for shopping and putting together outfits. Going to TJ Maxx, combing through all the racks, and putting together an outfit is exhilarating to her. Whereas for me, its like a visit to the dentist (I’d actually rather go to the dentist!). Luckily, my sister has taken me under her wing and been my shopping companion for many years. But a year or two ago, I found something that saved me….the capsule wardrobe and Project 333!

I first discovered the capsule wardrobe on Pinterest. I was able to see a lot of examples; however, my closet was so out of order after years of buying random items that were on sale or well advertised and I didn’t know where to begin. I tried to pair down to only a few items but was still overwhelmed. I then discovered Courtney Carver‘s Project 333. It was the plan I needed on how to make it all come together. Having only a few items in my closet that you could mix and match was something I could go for. I took her microcourse called “Dress with Less and Create Your Capsule Wardrobe” and since then, my closet has had a major overhaul. It’s still under construction, but most items are ones I love wearing and I feel comfortable in. If they start to become uncomfortable I know they are either worn out or I need to cut back on the cookies!

Because summer is coming soon and I won’t be working, this is a great time for me to complete my closet project. I’m not including winter clothing because I have already packed most of it away. I’ll revisit that in the fall.

Here is a breakdown of what is in my closet right now:

  • Accessories: 4 pair of earrings, 10 necklaces, 3 bracelets and 1 purse.
  • Shoes: 20 pair. I live in the country and its really dusty and sometimes muddy, and then there is the cow poop. This is the reason I have to have a set of shoes that can get dirty and a set that stays clean. Cowboy boots (a weakness) 5 pair, Sneakers: 4 pair, Sandals: 2 pair, Dress shoes: 5 pair Flats: 3 pair, Rain boots: 1 pair.
  • Dresses: 3 – 1 little black dress, 1 summery dress, 1 dressy dress
  • Pants: 4 Pair. I hate pants unless they are jeans. I only wear these to work and I hate them. I haven’t found any pants that I like. Did I mention I hate pants!!
  • Jeans: 7 pair. I really only wear 3 pairs regularly. I have found that Gap jeans fit me better than any other jeans I have tried. I can go in and find my size or order them on line and know that when they will fit.
  • Shorts: 4. 2 casual and 2 very casual. It’s actually time to get new shorts.
  • Jackets/Cardigans: 6. I’m always cold, but I don’t know that I really need 3 black cardigans.
  • Shirts: 30
    • 7 graphic t shrits
    • 12 button downs
    • 6 Casual tops:
    • 6 Knit tops
  • Suit: 1. I bought this years ago for a job interview. I don’t even know if it still fits.

So here is my plan: Pull everything out and try it on. If it doesn’t fit, its out. If it is worn out, its out. If I don’t LOVE it, its out. If I haven’t worn it in 3 years, its out. That is an easy way to start.

I still have some work to do pulling it all together but I feel so much better not trying to follow a trend and feel like I have developed my own comfortable style that I can dress up when needed. I no longer search for items and try on 15 things when I’m getting ready in the morning. I get up pick out what I want to wear for the day and and if I want to dress it up, I have found that red lipstick is a great accessory!

If you are like me and shopping and fashion aren’t your thing, Don’t let fast fashion and mass marketing make you feel like you don’t fit in. Declutter your closet, only buy clothes that you think are beautiful and that are comfortable and fit well and I bet you will end up finding your style one step at a time.

Until next time…..Be Well!


Waste Not, Want Not: Time, Money, and Trash

I recently watched a 2007 documentary called The Story of Stuff and I was blown away. The narrator stated “99 percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport—99 percent of the stuff we run through this system is trashed within 6 months.” That is a frightening statistic. Especially considering all the resources used to make the stuff and the state of the landfills where a lot of it ends up.

When I began decluttering, I noted time wasted shopping, cleaning and moving all my stuff and money wasted that could have been spent toward something of real value. This really got me thinking, ”What can I do right now to help eliminate waste and benefit both me and my planet?” Therefore, I am choosing to focus on these 3 areas: time, money, and trash.


I can say, since I made some lifestyle changes and began living with less, I have significantly decreased time wasted shopping for stuff. However, I still waste time. If I made a list of activities I enjoyed doing or goals I wanted to achieve, I’m pretty sure mindlessly scrolling through social media would not be on that list. Yet, time after time, I find myself sitting, eyes glazed over and my finger tapping and swiping, looking at things I’m not really interested in. I read about an app in the Technology Issue of Simplify Magazine which would change that. In an article called Consume Less, Create More Brian Gardner suggests using the Moment app to help avoid drains on attention. I downloaded the free version and in less than half a day I had been on my phone over 2 hours! I thought of all I could accomplish in 2 hours and opportunities I had missed while on my phone. After a week, I upgraded to the full version and cut time spent on my phone in half. I also increased awareness of when my phone was in my hand so I could put it down and get on with my life. Time is the one thing I can’t get back so I will make Izey Victoria Odiase’s words my mantra. She says, “Work on purpose, play on purpose, rest on purpose. Do not let yourself or anyone else waste your time.”

3 things I can do now to stop wasting time:

  • Keep my phone out of reach and continue to monitor use with the Moment app to become aware of when and why I am on my phone.
  • Read a real book or use my Kindle Paperwhite instead of the app on my phone. This lessens the temptation to wander to apps where I waste time.
  • Make a list of 10 things I want to do on paper. When I find myself wasting time, I will get up and spend time doing something on that list.


I’ve spent the last 20 years in education and am pretty naive about how things work in the business world. Therefore, I’m trying to become a more informed consumer and not be duped by flashy advertising into believing I need to consume more and more to be happy. I recently learned about planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence. These are business practices used to get consumers to purchase a new product because the old one no longer works properly or is no longer cool. The Story of Stuff explains it this way, “Planned obsolescence is another word for “designed for the dump.” It means they actually make stuff that is designed to be useless as quickly as possible so we will chuck it and go buy a new one.” “Perceived obsolescence convinces us to throw away stuff that is still perfectly useful.” These strategies have been around for decades but seem to be becoming more extreme, especially in today’s technology and fashion worlds. By being informed, I can stand my ground when the next marketing campaign tries to entice me.

5 things I can do now to save money:

  • I can give up “cool” for a bigger life, just like Joy Netanya Thompson
  • Make only planned purchases.
  • Have weeks or months of no spending. Cait Flanders did a whole year if your up for an extreme challenge!!
  • Purchase quality items instead of cheap and disposable ones.
  • Complete my capsule wardrobe


My family of 3 averages about 1 kitchen sized bag of trash per day. To me it seems like quite a bit. Most of it is related to food – the food itself, forgotten in the back of the fridge and no longer recognizable, and food packaging, boxes, plastic containers, plastic wrappers, paper towels and yes folks, paper plates. I have been making my way through these documentaries to get more ideas for decreasing waste. One that really amazed me was the 2009 documentary, No Impact Man. In this film, Colin Bevan and his family spend a pretty radical year attempting to live in the city making as little environmental impact as possible. While I’m not ready to give up electricity and my car, I can make simple changes. I have started looking around my house and just in my pantry are a number of things I have purchased, intended for some Pinterest recipe, I’m sure. Unfortunately, many times these products end up in the trash, out of date, never opened.

5 things I can do now to reduce trash:

  • Purchase only foods I know my family will eat.
  • Get a water filter.
  • Purchase items with very little or no packaging.
  • Shop with reusable bags.
  • Use real plates and cloth napkins and towels.

Hopefully, a few small changes will begin to have a cumulative effect with big results for a more simple, more purposeful, and more joyful life.

If you have any ideas or advice, please share!! What is wasting your time and money? What are things you have done to reduce, reuse and recycle?

Until next time,

Be Well.

This post was published at No Sidebar. You can see it here.

Letting Go……

Many years ago, I began to let go of loads of material possessions that I no longer used. I have kept a steady pace and am now almost down to the basics (I still have some pretty substantial piles of paper that I am avoiding.) I am almost ready to enter a maintenance phase for stuff; however, I have realized I have only scratched the surface on letting go of what keeps me from fully experiencing joy.

I was recently listening to a podcast of the Minimalists where callers discussed what they had recently let go. I was expecting comments about letting go of clothing, collectibles, gadgets and maybe even sentimental items, but I was surprised as they spoke of non-material things like a toxic relationship, an unfulfilling job, and the need for affirmation.

I had not thought about decluttering my life of non-material things that bring me down, things that fracture relationships, things that keep me from living a very full and intentional life.

Ann Voskamp writes in her book, 1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, states, “Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control….let go of my own way, let go of my own fears.” This made me think… what can I start to let go of in my life that will strengthen me, cultivate relationships, add value to my life, and increase the joy in my life.

Everyone has different obstacles and carries a different load but here are 4 things I want to focus on letting go….

    • Worry –  Like many people, I tend to worry about things I can’t change or control. This seems very counter productive because I could spend the time used up worrying to do things I can change and control. The serenity prayer, used in many 12 step programs sums this up! “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” When I have a firm grip on worry, I can’t open my hands to receive something amazing.
    • Selfish anger – This is when I find myself getting angry at my family when I have to do extra work, am inconvenienced or I don’t get my way (yes, I’m 47 and still find myself having some temper tantrums that would put a toddler to shame). The book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses has been especially helpful in helping me identify triggers (e.g., exhaustion, guilt, noise, backtalk, over-stimulation, etc.) and begin to overcome them. I love that the authors included a short prayer for each trigger.
    • Comparisons – Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive that is you-er than you!”  The Bible tells us that God had a purpose for each of us even before we were born. We all have a specific look, personality traits, and skills for a specific purpose. Rachel Hollis, in Girl, Wash Your Face, says,”We are doing pretty good – and pretty good is way better than trying to fake perfection any day of the week.” I don’t have to exhaust myself swimming upstream to try and fake a life planned for someone else because one is already planned for just me! You know, when I look around with gratitude at what I do have, it’s all pretty awesome.
    • Procrastination – Sometimes my procrastination is a product of another obstacle such as worry or comparisons. Many times I don’t move forward because I worry it will be too hard, it won’t be good enough or I might fail. I’m quoting Rachel Hollis again, “Every year you close a new chapter in your story. Please, please, please don’t write the same one seventy-five time and call it a life.” I can tell you that while I still struggle with procrastination, when I have been brave and worked toward a goal I have been pleasantly surprised with the outcome (my first publication!) or I have learned something valuable.

So I have my work cut out for me…..I need to release my grip on things I can’t change like the past and what other people think because I have a great life to live – mine! I need to move forward and focus on the things I can change….the future, how I react when things don’t go my way, and what I DO!!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions if you have found ways to let go of obstacles that hold you back.

Next up:  Setting goals!!

Where to begin….

compass small

So how am I going to accomplish this healthy heart and joyful soul? Which road should I travel first?

I’m going to start with creating a joyful soul because I have only recently admitted to my addiction of sodas and Hot Tamales and the healthy heart journey is going to be a lot harder!

On my path to a more joyful soul…..I started thinking about happiness vs. joy. I did a little research and there is some debate as to whether they are the same thing or not. Merriam-Webster considers them to be the same. It defines happiness as, “a a state of well-being and contentment joy” and defines joy as, “a state of happiness or felicity bliss.” Others describe happiness as superficial and temporary, a feeling that results from our reaction to another person or thing and joy as something bigger and longer lasting, something you create in yourself despite outside influences. I think it would be good to find happiness and joy but I’m going with Merriam-Webster and will use them to mean the same thing for ease and simplicity.

Speaking of simplicity, Sandra L. Brown M.A., in her article Joy vs. Happiness, refers to “voluntary simplicity.” A lifestyle adopted by her mother which eventually led from a life riddled with loss and pain to a place of joy. Voluntary simplicity sounds a lot like minimalism, and I know after years of attempting to simplify my life, minimalism is for me.

Rachel Jones defines minimalism as “intentionally getting rid of the excess in your life, so you can devote time and energy to the things that are truly important to you.” Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known as The Minimalists, have a lengthier and more comical definition here

I can tell you for me, having less has brought me much more joy than having excess and always being on the hunt for more. However, like many worthwhile things, it takes lots of effort to achieve and lots of self-control to maintain. Because of this, I’ve been working for years to rid my life of the excess of possessions. By the way, did you know the average American home has 300,000 things

While I don’t know if I had that many things, I know at one time I had enough stuff, even after giving a small mountain away, to fill a storage space I could have parked a car in. Even worse, I paid thousands of dollars to keep that stuff comfortable in a climate controlled unit. After eliminating thousands, maybe tens of thousands of items, from my home and office, the only thing I wish I had back was the the time and money I spent on the stuff. I even wrote about it, 8, yes, 8 years ago and I’m still working on it. Sometimes when you let your guard down, stuff tends to sneak back into your home.

I say enough with the stuff!!!

James Altucher writes about the joy minimalism brought him here. (His version of minimalism is too extreme for me!) And then there is Lydia Slater who tried minimalism and concluded, “Minimalism, I realised, wasn’t morally superior to the alternative, it was just another aesthetic choice. Nevertheless, I had learnt one really valuable lesson: I was under no obligation to hang on to things I didn’t like, just because I had spent money on them.”

It is what you make it.

I got started minimizing after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing; however, the catalyst that really got me moving was Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.  This film really lit a fire under me.

This journey has led me, not only to continue my quest to declutter, but to become more intentional about my purchases. I have started to challenge myself periodically with “no spend months” (essentials like food and gas are allowed!) inspired by Cait Flanders and her book, The Year of Less. I’m currently on my third attempt and it’s getting easier each time. What has been helpful is living in a very small house in the country…..not a lot of places for shopping and not a lot of space for storing or displaying. 

I have also developed a capsule wardrobe. Thank you, Courtney Carver! It’s basically having a few items that can easily be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. I guess as a girl I’m a little different……I don’t like to shop (except for books and cowboy boots) but seriously, shopping gives me anxiety…..heart racing type of anxiety. The decision fatigue nearly does me in whether its groceries or clothing, so having very few choices works well for me. This is not for the person who looks forward to going to her full and colorful closet and putting together an outfit with coordinating accessories. If this is you, please don’t stop! I want to enjoy the visual art of your ensemble, but I’m just a jeans and T-shirt kinda gal who owns 4 pairs of earrings and a modest collection of cowboy boots!

Minimalism has also help me open space and time for things that I truly enjoy. Simple things….writing, reading, and having awesome experiences with actual people. Like mountain biking with my son, eating delectable food with my sister, an impromptu hike in the woods with my family, talking with my friend for hours at her kitchen counter, hanging out at the youth rodeo chatting with neighbors, and dancing in the kitchen with my husband. For me these are awesome things!

This is my journey to do more of those things. I want to do more of what I really enjoy instead of just dreaming about it. I’ve been dreaming for a long time and now I’m ready to make some significant changes in what I do and how I think. Too many times I have found myself idle, letting the days pass by. I want to do more things that make me happy but I also want to create a joyful soul that can endure and rise out of the inevitable pain and disappointments that come with this human life.

So for now, I will continue to declutter (I’m in the middle of the 30 day mimimalism game), have at least one awesome experience a week and contact a nutritionist……

Until next time…..

Be well,


P.S. If you are interested in learning more about minimalism Joshua Becker’s website is a good place to start.