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!

Lori

Looking Back and Moving Forward

I’ve been spending some time thinking about the last 12 months and what has led me to where I am in this new year. Of course, my family, friends, and the many blessings I have received have been key, but as I look back I have noticed the many “breadcrumbs” that led me on a journey and helped me achieve many goals and hold on to joy even when circumstances tried to steal it from me.

I started 2018 wanting to continue on my journey to minimize spending and accumulating possessions, but I wanted to be happier and more content. So 10% Happier and The Year of Less were a great start. I then started reading simply for enjoyment, no need to take notes or have a highlighter handy. The women whose stories are told in Breaking Night and The Hiding Place demonstrated even the biggest obstacles can be overcome when you keep your faith and let God lead the way.

During the summer, after a co-worker posted a great review, I pulled Girl, Wash Your Face off my wishlist, into my cart and waited anxiously for it to arrive. I quickly read through each chapter. Mind blown! It gave me new perspective, made me step out and “do something” even if it wasn’t perfect or pretty. I set up a new blog and submitted an article to No Sidebar. I didn’t really expect anything to happen and then while reviewing my emails one day, I was notified they accepted my article! I kid you not, my heart leap and I nearly fell out of my chair. Soon, there is was, in digital print, my name and the article I wrote on one of my favorite websites! I promise that article would still be hiding in a journal without the kick in the pants from Rachel Hollis. Thank you Rachel!! Thank you No Sidebar!!

No Sidebar has become like a home base for me and has left breadcrumbs connecting me to many great resources and other writers with common interests. I connected personally with Erica Layne and her Life on Purpose Movement and Introverted Mom’s Club on Facebook and Cheryl Smith and her many inspirational articles.

The Simple Show podcast is a favorite and I listen to it often. It was been a huge factor in my growth during 2018. This is my go to “breadcrumb factory.” Tsh Oxenrider’s interviews have led me to numerous influential people and places. Two favorites being The Lazy Genius Cooperative and Emily P. Freeman and her podcast The Next Right Thing. Thanks Tsh!

By October, I was coasting…I was connecting with people through my blog, writing and meeting many of my goals. All was good…I had a routine and everything seemed to be falling into place. Then that Bermuda Triangle of holidays happened. I was traveling, trying to tie up loose ends at work before the break, cramming candy and costumes, a turkey, presents, and a Christmas tree into a few months. I fell off every wagon I had climbed onto. I know now I gave myself too much to focus on at once. I had too many expectations and not a lot of flexibility. I was spending too much on stuff I didn’t need, eating too much, my routine was out the window, I was cramming in lots of commitments because they were “for a good cause” and stress and anxiety snuck back into my life.

All I had worked for seemed so far away and I didn’t know how I would get back. As I sit here writing, I’m still not back there. My tree is still up there are piles of laundry on the floor and dishes in the sink. The beef stroganoff I made was a complete fail and I’m still nursing my back I pulled out on Christmas Eve. But you know what? Those wagons that I was coasting on? They are still there, just waiting for me to hop back on and steer them and I can’t wait to clear a path and do it!

Although, I got off track and things are still a bit chaotic I’m feeling really good about moving forward in 2019. I don’t have a “word” or list of resolutions for this year. I’m working on more of a mission statement inspired by a quote from the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,which reads, “By investing in fewer things we have the satisfying experience of making significant progress in the things that matter most.”

If you are still pondering words and resolutions I say toss them out. It’s been reported 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February anyway! Instead, figure out what it is you really want to do and….

  • Make a mission statement.
  • Write a few obtainable goals, take an inventory in a few months and dont be afraid to change them.
  • Look for breadcrumbs and follow them!
  • Get a pack of gold star stickers and display your achievements – even the small ones.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work out. Something bigger and better might be just around the corner.
  • If you fall off your wagon, dust yourself off, and just get back on. Don’t wait until the 1st of the month, or a Monday, just start over even if its 3:17 on Tuesday.
  • Don’t be afraid to change midway through the journey. Life is not static, it’s always changing and we are always growing and learning.
  • Don’t put yourself into a box trying to be something other than yourself.

Each one of us has a special gift. Please don’t think what you do is insignificant. There is someone out there waiting to read your story, wear your jewelry, hear your song, display your art, eat your cupcakes, or maybe something as simple as sit on your lap and listen to you read a story.

We all have a light, let 2019 be the year to let yours shine.

Be well,

Lori

Published at No Sidebar on 1/1/0/19.

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,

Lori

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