Nowadays, there’s a subscription for just about everything. From craft beers to music to clothes, you can have practically anything you want delivered straight to your doorstep.
Convenient, isn’t it? Yes, but the costs of these recurring services can stack up quickly. Nine bucks a month for Netflix might not sound like a lot. But when you add in monthly fees for Hulu and Amazon Prime, things can get out of control.
The worst part about subscriptions is that it’s easy to forget exactly what you’re paying for. If you sign up with your credit or debit card, the monthly charges are usually taken out of your account automatically. Don’t get us wrong: subscriptions can be great. But it’s important to keep track of what you’re spending to ensure you’re getting the most out of each service.
Here are six tips to better manage your subscriptions:
1. Make a List and Add Up All Your Subscriptions
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your subscriptions, you need to know what you’re subscribed to. It’s frighteningly easy to lose track of exactly where your money is going. That’s especially true if you have a habit of signing up for trial subscriptions and forgetting to cancel them.
Take some time to scan your credit and debit card statements. Even if you’re aware of all your subscriptions, it’s a good idea to make a list of recurring charges. That way, you can clearly see where your money is being spent.
Set Calendar Reminders for Trial Subscriptions
Speaking of trial subscriptions, a good way to avoid accidentally buying a subscription (once the trial is over) is by setting reminders. The second you sign up for a trial subscription, which usually lasts 30 days, create a reminder a few days before it ends. Use those days to reflect on your use of the service and whether or not it was worth your money. If you really liked it, you can keep it going. But if you didn’t, you can cancel before you get suckered into another monthly payment.
This is a process you should consider following for all your subscriptions, not just new trials. Each month, set a reminder a few days before they renew, and make sure you’re still benefiting from the services. If you’re not, you can cancel them before you’re charged for another month.
3. See What Subscriptions You Can Eliminate
After you’ve identified all your subscriptions, make separate lists of the ones you really need and the ones you could live without. Regardless of whether or not you can afford them, chances are you don’t need all the subscriptions you’re paying for.
Are there services you haven’t used in months? Are you paying for multiple subscriptions that provide more or less the same benefits? Go ahead and eliminate those and save your money, or allocate those funds elsewhere. If you find you miss one you’ve canceled, you can always renew at any time.
4. Compare Different Price Options
Since the appearance of the first one (The Sampler) in 2004, subscription box services have grown tremendously. It’s estimated that, between 2014 and 2018, the industry grew by almost 900%. With thousands of subscription boxes available, it’s easy to shop and compare prices between boxes and opt for a cheaper selection.
Besides comparing the prices of different offerings, you should also continuously check the prices of your current subscriptions. Services like Hulu and Netflix are known to increase their monthly fees periodically. And while they’re legally supposed to notify users beforehand, not everyone reads through every email they receive. That’s why it’s important to monitor your recurring charges to ensure prices aren’t creeping beyond your comfort level.
5. Check and Cancel Subscriptions on Your Phone
Have you ever subscribed to something through the App Store? If so, you can easily manage those recurring payments. On your iPhone, simply go to Settings and click on your name alongside your Apple ID. Then, tap on Subscriptions. You’ll see a list of everything you’re paying for. If you want to cancel any of your subscriptions, you can do so right there from your phone.
If you have an Android phone, you can likewise manage your subscriptions through the Google Play store. Hit the menu button and then Subscriptions. Click on any that you want to cancel, and they’ll be gone.
Regardless of whether you have an Apple or Android device, under Settings, you can limit how easy it is to allow in-app purchases. This is a helpful option if you have children or lack self-control. While this won’t stop purchases, it will add an additional barrier. For example, you might have to enter a PIN or password before the purchase is completed.
Download a Bill-Tracking App
According to a 2018 Waterstone Management Group survey, 84% of U.S. consumers don’t realize how much they spend on digital subscriptions. With so much going on in your life, keeping track of everything you signed up for probably isn’t uppermost in your mind. Fortunately, technology can do it for you.
Bill-tracking apps like Truebill link to your bank account and will clearly list all your subscriptions and recurring payments. Truebill will even notify you when subscription rates change. For example, if Hulu decides to raise its price, the app will keep you up-to-date.
Bobby is a similar app, but subscriptions are entered manually so you don’t have to link Bobby to your bank account. Like Truebill, this app will track your subscriptions and monthly bills so you can manage your money. The Trim app takes it a step further. It will cancel old subscriptions for you and negotiate payments with services to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Bobby and Trim offer basic free plans, but they aren’t the only options available. We live in a digital age, where new apps are constantly being launched. While they can be helpful, it’s important to make sure you’re using them safely — especially when linking apps to your bank account. Make sure you create a password that’s not easy to crack and monitor your debit and credit statements for any fraudulent behavior.
Subscriptions can be convenient and well worth the money — as long as you’re keeping track of them. By following the tips above, you’ll ensure you’re getting the most out of your subscriptions.