How to avoid drowning in subscription fees

By

Mia Taylor

Mia Taylor

Blog author Mia Taylor

Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist with two decades of reporting experience. News organizations she has worked for as a staff member or contributor include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Westways Magazine, Vacation Agent Magazine, the San Diego Union-Tribune and The Boston Globe. She has an M.A. in Journalism and Media Studies and was a member of a team of reporters who received a Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2011.

Published August 13, 2019|2 min read

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You’re likely signed up for more than one subscription service, between Netflix and Hulu to Amazon Prime and Spotify. While each service on its own may not cost much, the collective charges for these modern conveniences add up. Before you know it, a significant chunk of change is disappearing each month.

“People underestimate the impact that recurring subscriptions will have on their budget,” said Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful. “Throw in a cable provider and the total can easily exceed $1,000 per year spent on providers that offer similar services.”

Drowning in subscriptions? Here’s how to get back in control.

Use a tracking app

Determining if you have subscription overload begins with identifying how many subscriptions you’re signed up for and what they’re costing.

“The vast majority of streaming services like Netflix and Spotify don't send you a monthly receipt to tell you how much you're spending with them or when they are billing you,” said Derek Szeto, co-founder of Butter, an app that helps users find, track and manage subscriptions.

It’s up to you to review your accounts and bills on a regular basis. One way to do this is through an app like Butter, that automatically tracks recurring purchases. Others include Truebill and Outflow.

Learn which subscription services are actually worth the price.

Determine how much you use the subscription

Subscriptions are great because they provide users with access to services one may not otherwise be able to afford. But another important part of controlling these expenses is determining whether you’re actually using each service.

To identify which subscriptions to nix, keep track of which ones you use for two weeks or more. Keep record using a spreadsheet, said Jerry Brown, owner of Peerless Money Mentor.

Once the two weeks are up, eliminate any subscriptions that aren’t getting much use.

Cut down on streaming services

Another approach to paring down your subscription spending is to ask this simple question: Do you really need multiple streaming services that provide essentially the same thing? It may be time to cut the ones you no longer use

“Resolve to only pay for one subscription per product or service you need,” said Logan Allec, founder of personal finance blog Money Done Right. “One subscription for music, one for television and one for news.”

Set cancellation reminders

It’s important to prevent yourself from falling down the rabbit hole again, said Cynthia Pruemm, vice president of SIS Financial Group.

“Before you even sign up for that free 30-day trial, set a reminder on your phone for 20 days from then to cancel the trial,” said Pruemm. “Twenty days should be plenty of time for you to determine whether that subscription is one you want to keep or not.”

Learn more about the dangers of risk-free trials here.

Image: Freestocks.org

Mia Taylor

Blog author Mia Taylor

Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist with two decades of reporting experience. News organizations she has worked for as a staff member or contributor include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Westways Magazine, Vacation Agent Magazine, the San Diego Union-Tribune and The Boston Globe. She has an M.A. in Journalism and Media Studies and was a member of a team of reporters who received a Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2011.