Saturday, July 27, 2013

So Much for Not Blogging on Saturday

Just have so much going on in my head today. I finished some chores in less time than I thought I would, so now I'm sitting down and taking a break before jumping back in (and waking up demon princess).

I've had some questions from those who know me elsewhere about my newly discovered love of subscription boxes. See, we tend to live a more minimalist, simple lifestyle. It was not always this way; we lived simply in some ways, but I did a lot of coupon shopping and hoarded usable things in large stockpiles. There *is* a time and a place for that (I'll go into that later), but the time I was spending both buying it up and maintaining it (organizing, dusting, whatever) became a hassle.

"How in the world," they ask, "can you justify getting all of this, well, crap when you said you want to live more simply?"

That was a really good question. I thought about it before replying. As the boxes have actually come in, I've thought about it every time I've opened one, as well.

Was I doing the wrong thing? Was I getting sucked into materialistic consumerism at a time when we'd decided that our experiences were worth way more than any "Stuff" we'd surround ourselves with? Where was all of this going to go if we didn't use it?

I've learned some good answers - at least on a few of the boxes.

TOM boxes showed me that there is an alternative to having a giant box of TOM supplies in my laundry room, multiple open boxes under the cabinet of almost every bathroom sink in the house, and the lure of stocking up huge supplies on really cheap sale because "Well, we will definitely use these so it's worth using an entire cubic foot of space to store them in...for YEARS".

Convenience sometimes IS simplicity. I really do look forward to clearing out that cubic foot of space. A once a month delivery of the exact products that we need will arrive, be used, and then not take up space the remaining 3.5 weeks out of the month. And that sounds awesome and simple.

The other issue is that I am very much a brand snob. I hate paying $10 or more to simply try one new product. Even if the store has a good return policy, that's a waste of my time to drive back, wait in line, and return it just to pick up something else. I end up with 6 or 7 bottles of the same basic thing (like detangler) and don't throw them out immediately because I invested money in them. Throwing them out feels wasteful. I don't like being wasteful. That's just on a cheaper item, too - what about really good sunscreen that's $20 a bottle? Perfume that's (ugh) $140? Face or eye creams ($$$$)?

I like getting these little samples in the mail - for which I've paid very little and most of the cost is really having them shipped to me. If it's something I will use, it goes in one pile or I even try it out immediately. I keep a little spreadsheet in Google of what came and a grade (A for "replace with this item now", all the way to F "avoid like the plague"). If it's something I totally won't use, I set it aside in an organized manner to give to someone who will (because that part is fun).

If, at the end of the month or whatever time period or space I set aside has passed or filled up, I can't find anyone to give it to - I know 100% that I can drop those items off at the women's shelter and they will have worth. Since each are individually sealed, there is no question of tampering or hygeine concerns (unlike say a half empty bottle of detangler...). My shelter is usually *in need of* exactly these types of items.

Now, I don't feel wasteful. I don't feel guilty and am not holding on to things because my investment in them was either 0 or extremely small. That is simple.

I am also not keeping all of the subscriptions. I liked taking advantage of the "Try us Free" or "Here's a Big Discount On Your First Box" offers. I am trying a metric ass ton of boxes. And then I'm cancelling some of them and we're keeping the ones we like the most that offer the most value (and value for some may be simple convenience, like DollarShaveClub).

I've already cancelled 5 boxes; we're keeping 3 for sure with the possibility of going annual; I made one annual since I loved it that much; I'm not sure about 1; and I have 5 other boxes paid for that haven't arrived yet.
Yes, I am about to sign up for more to replace the ones that I cancelled (hopefully using codes to make them cheaper!).

So, you tell me - do you think subscription boxes are totally incompatible with a simpler lifestyle? Alternatively, do you think they help with one? What are your thoughts?