4 Ideas for Managing Subscriptions to Save Money
In the past, your subscriptions probably consisted of magazines and newspapers. But today, you can get a number of products or services using this model — which makes managing subscriptions and their costs a critical part of smart budgeting to help you save more money.
Here are four ideas you can use for managing subscriptions so that you can ensure you only pay for those that you truly value.
1. Know What You Subscribe to
The first step to better managing subscriptions is determining how many you have, what they're for, and how much they cost you each month. Keep in mind that "subscriptions" can take many forms. Anything that bills you on a monthly or annual recurring basis should be considered here.
That might sound overwhelming, but apps make tracking this easier than ever. Try one like Trim, which promises to "analyze your accounts to find recurring subscriptions and determine where you can save more money." Or you can check out an option like Truebill, which offers a similar function but also has an added feature of negotiating your bills for you.
2. Review Your Bank Statements and Credit Cards Monthly
You don't have to go high-tech to keep up with your subscriptions. A good way to manage those — and all of your spending — is to sit down with your bank statements each month and review each transaction. This is even easier to do if you put all of your subscriptions on one card or use one account to pay for them.
This allows you to check for accuracy and report errors (or fraud). Although rare, mistakes do happen. If a subscription service bills you incorrectly or overcharges you, act fast to get it resolved.
By manually checking your transactions, you can also stay more in tune with where your money goes each month and how that spending makes you feel. Try this exercise: highlight every transaction that makes you feel a twinge of buyer's remorse. Then, consider removing those purchases from your spending going forward, and cancel any associated subscriptions.
3. Remember, the Little Stuff Adds Up
As you start managing subscriptions, you might feel tempted to hang onto some even if you don't really use them. This might happen more often with "aspirational" ones, like a gym membership or a meal prep service that promises to help you eat healthier.
But look at this hypothetical example to see how these expenses can snowball into serious costs:
- Membership for online yoga videos: $15/month
- Subscription to music streaming service: $15/month
- Makeup subscription box: $19/month
- Meal prep kit deliveries: $240/month
- Gym membership: $75/month
- Video streaming subscription: $10/month
- Amazon Prime membership: $10/month
- Magazines: $15/month
- Extra cloud storage: $10/month
That's a total of $409 per month, and you may have even more subscriptions. If your goal is to save more money, don't just write off these services as a small expense — the little things add up.
4. Cut Costs Quickly
If you started managing subscriptions and realized they're costing you too much, start by eliminating anything you haven't used in the last 60 days. Look at the remaining subscriptions and consider if there are cheaper alternatives. Can you switch to a cheaper gym? Commit to cooking at home instead of trying on a meal delivery service?
Cutting out what you don't use or what's simply too expensive can help make room for the subscriptions you do value and enjoy.