Subscription services that are worth it--and ones that aren't


It's 2018, y'all, and subscription services have taken off (Although, ironically, magazines and newspaper subscriptions are at on all-time low).  It makes sense from the businesses' part: guaranteed repeat customers and revenue.  In the past year, I have experimented with many of the services out there and have found that not everything works as a subscription (at least for me).  Here are some favorites and not-favorites:


1.  Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime

The one that started it all!  We underuse these services right now because we pay for a cable and internet bundle.  In the next few months, however, when we cut our cable, I imagine we will rely more heavily on streaming.  Many people who have opted out of cable also use services like Sling and Playstation Vue to watch sports and other specialty channels like HGTV that are not readily available on Netflix, Hulu, or Prime.

Worth it.


2.  Amazon Subscribe and Save

This is gold.  We use this for everything from dental floss to baby food to toilet paper to dog toothpaste.  I love automating many of our consumables.  We don't have to think about replacing or running out--Amazon simply has a recurring shipment headed to our door.  It can take some figuring to figure out how frequently you need each item, but once you get it, you're golden.  The discount is significant if you subscribe to five or more items each month, so this service helps both for convenience and savings (Bonus: No carrying toilet paper from the grocery cart to the car to the house!).

Worth it.


3.  Movie Pass

This did not work for our family.  Movie Pass promises subscribers one free movie ticket a day for $10 per month.  The catch?  Each subscriber has to reserve his or her ticket individual (so no group purchases), subscribers must be within 400 yards of the theater to reserve a ticket, and subscribers cannot reserve a particular seat in advance.  In other words, this works great for people who love any kind of movie and are very flexible.  My husband Dan and I tried to use it and our movie ended up selling out.  We didn't want to see another movie, so we ended up scrapping our movie theater plans altogether and felt like we wasted a babysitter.  

Skip it.


4.  Razor subscription services

Dan and I both jumped on this train a few months ago.  I am terrible about replacing my blades, and I appreciate the subscription service "makes" me do it.  Right now I am using Billie, but I may look into switching to a man's razor company, because they tend to be slightly cheaper.  Darn that pink tax!

Worth it--I think.


5.  Spotify

Did you know that Spotify has family memberships?  Our household pays one flat fee for add free music on all of our devices.  I used to consider this a luxury, but now that I teach at the gym, I really need it--and it is very nice not to listen to commercials!

Worth it.


6. Grove

I wanted to love this.  Green cleaning and personal care products are shipped to you on a recurring basis (it's very much like Amazon Subscribe and Save).  The problem is that everything Grove has can be found on Amazon for a much lower price, and frankly, it's easier to handle everything on one website, not two.  I would love to support the smaller company, and often I will pay extra, if it's a little extra.  In this case, though?  It's too significant to bite the bullet.

Skip it.


7.  Daily Harvest

Even smoothies are a subscription now.  What?  I had a great coupon and ordered a few smoothies to try.  They were good but pricey.  Without the coupon, it comes in at about the cost of a restaurant smoothie.  I loved relying upon this service during our kitchen renovation, but I cannot see using it normally.  I've had the same experience with meal delivery kits like Blue Apron or Sunbasket--they cost as much as eating out, so if I'm not in a position to cook, I'd rather just not do the work and eat out.  I know many people swear by these services, so I am in the minority.  What am I missing?

Skip it.


8.  Audible

I listen to podcasts more than audiobooks, but I have enjoyed listening to some early reader books with my five-year-old.  What's nice about Audible is that you can "bank" your book, so it doesn't expire it if you purchase it and don't get around to reading it for a few months.  I get most of my books through the library (even digital, because libraries have really stepped it up!), but I sometimes have trouble finishing a title before it is due.  Audible runs sales, so I scored a year's subscription for half off the regular price.  Audiobooks are expensive, so the subscription definitely beats buying the books piecemeal.

Worth it.


What else is out there that is worth trying?

Emily Rowell Brown