One of my biggest budget busters has been subscriptions, particularly the $5 or $10 monthly subscriptions. While individually, these may seem small, they add up quickly. Companies often offer discounts for paying annually, which can make it seem like a good deal, but if you’re like me, you may forget about them and end up getting billed for another full year. When you see the expense in your bank account and try to cancel it, it’s usually not possible, and if you do cancel, you don’t get a refund for the unused time in the subscription.
The worst of the worst are the ones that don’t allow you to cancel from the app or website, such as Wall Street Journal. You have to call someone during business hours and listen to them read you a script designed to talk you out of canceling. These subscriptions were adding up to thousands of dollars per year.
I had multiple streaming services, cloud storage accounts, photo backup services, and a bunch of utilities that were supposed to make me more productive or be a better note-taker or get more organized, but they didn’t.
Subscriptions to avoid at all costs:
- Aspirational subscriptions, the game-changer new app or service that all the cutting-edge influencers are raving about. Chances are, they are being paid some kind of affiliate marketing commission to recommend it. Remember, you are not the apps and services that you consume.
- Services that create dependency, if I pay for a service that I then use for something like backing up my files, email, etc. it creates lock-in and a feeling that I can’t live without it.
- Subscriptions that motivate me to spend more money, DoorDash subscriptions, Amazon Prime, etc. make me spend more money than if I don’t have those memberships.
It took me about a year to find all of the subscriptions and get rid of them, but I now have it down to the bare minimum- one music service, one streaming service, and my budgeting app. For everything else, I have taken the extreme practice of canceling the subscription immediately after I sign up for it. For example, if there is a new Netflix show that I want to watch, I will sign up for one month, immediately cancel the service so I don’t forget about it, and watch that series during that one month. That way, I avoid surprises and live intentionally.
A big benefit is that my budget is now much simpler, and there are many fewer surprise expenses.