Don’t Subscribe Your Life Away

These days you can automate almost anything you can think of! Most of life’s conveniences come with mobile apps and automated monthly subscriptions–the really good ones even remember your habits!

You can automate your utilities, grocery lists, clothes, shoes, transportation, entertainment and a lot more. It’s a convenience of the modern age that folks from every generation find themselves signing up for.  

Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much convenience and many find their money slipping through their fingers as soon as it touches their checking account–all because of automatic payments.  While many subscription services do not charge more than $1 to $15 per month, depending on how many things you’ve signed up for, your total in automated payments could add up to well over $200 (and that’s just for entertainment)!

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t sign up for subscriptions, but you should do so wisely.

Perform a Self-Audit

Schedule quarterly self-audits of your subscription services to determine their relevance and necessity.

We’ve briefly discussed self-auditing in a previous post about saving during popular retail times (See: How to Save During the Fall Frenzy).  But it’s important to note that a self-audit is crucial to proper management of your money.  Utilize the online tools provided by your bank to track your spending habits. You may find that each month you spend hundreds of dollars in automatic payments, many of which you may not remember.  For example, several gyms offer low cost monthly memberships, and at only $10.99 a month you may or may not find yourself using that membership regularly. It doesn’t sound like much, but that is nearly $150 per year.  Or your shoe box subscription that comes out of your account at $39.99 each month–regardless of if you’re purchasing shoes! That’s nearly $500 per year. Then you add in your monthly entertainment and food expenses–Netflix at $12.99, Hulu at $7.99, Amazon Prime at $12.99, Audible $14.95, Amazon Fresh at $14.99–and it just keeps going up from there! What starts as a convenience could end up costing you more in the long run.

Evaluate your usage, and be honest with yourself, end the subscriptions that you don’t use.  You’ll find that the extra hundred or so dollars you save each month can really add up and help you reach your savings goals!

Watch Out for the End of Your Free Trial

Free trials always do exactly what they’re meant to do–get our buy-in so that we eventually BUY IN! And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not sneaky or dishonest on the part of companies who use this method to get new monthly customers.  But what happens to so many of us, is that we willingly sign up for free trials and miss the deadline to cancel before our card is charged. We strongly encourage you to not only be mindful of when your free trial ends–but to really use the trial period to determine how relevant a subscription is to your life.  After you signed up for that grocery service, did you really stop going to the store to buy groceries? After you tried that athleisure clothing line, did you really wear those tights? Be mindful in the beginning so that you don’t end up waiting until months down the line before realizing you’re paying for something you don’t use.

Be Mindful of Changes

That sounds pretty broad, but when dealing with subscription services changes on your end and the company’s end are inevitable.  For example, you may find that the subscription service has increased by a few dollars. When this happens, many users find themselves evaluating if it’s a worthy expense. Luckily, companies typically make an announcement ahead of time so that customers are not blindsided by the increase in cost.  

Other cases, you may have recently had to change your debit card, or maybe what was once a service you could afford is no longer within your budget.  Changes to your debit card number could leave you missing out on something you enjoy because you forgot to inform the company of this change.  On the other hand, you may find that what was once a useful and valuable monthly expense is no longer conducive to your lifestyle.

In this age of autopay and convenience, the best thing you can do when signing up for automatic debits is to just stay diligent and aware. Create a spending plan and monitor your expenses.  Check in with yourself at least every quarter to make sure you’re not throwing your money away by literally paying for things you never use.

Written by Desnoyers CPA

Desnoyers CPA

Known for her friendly, outgoing nature and her rare talent for financial foresight, Lydia Desnoyers has been serving individuals and small businesses in Florida since 2010. After earning her Master’s Degree in Accounting from Nova Southeastern University and her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Florida State University, she became a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Fraud Examiner.

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