How to track and trim your subscription costs
The subscription industry is huge in our world today! The average person spent $237.33/month on subscription services in 2018. These services include internet, cell phone coverage, streaming services for video and music, food delivery, health and fitness apps, and more.
With the vast number of subscriptions you can sign up for and the large portion of your monthly budget that they can consume, it’s important to keep track of all of your subscriptions. Be sure to cancel or pause any you aren’t using to save yourself money.
While there are apps and websites to help you keep track of your subscriptions, sometimes for a fee, I think you can learn a lot by keeping track of them yourself. Not only can you do it for free, it also will give you better insight into what you are spending your money on and whether or not some of your services are worth it. There are two methods that I recommend to my clients when trying to keep track of all their subscriptions in our crazy world.
Build a Subscription Tracking Calendar
The first method is to create a subscription tracking calendar. Using the calendar app on your phone or your computer, create calendar notifications for each of your subscription services. If a subscription is monthly, create a notification each month on the day it is due. In the event name, include the service and the amount. If you don’t have the subscription on auto pay, include a reminder a day or two before to be sure that you pay the bill. If the bill is annual, add a notification for the date each year that it renews. Again, add the amount and set a reminder for yourself so you can take the bill into consideration and adjust your budget. Give your subscription reminders all the same color so you can see at a glance when looking at your calendar when they are due.
This method of tracking subscriptions may seem a bit tedious. But if your subscriptions aren’t automatically billed to a card or account, or you are finding yourself repeatedly with more month than money, this method can help you find areas to tighten your budget. It can also ensure you don’t miss payments.
Create a Subscriptions Spreadsheet
If most of your subscriptions are automatically paid or you don’t want to clutter up your calendar, I recommend building a subscriptions spreadsheet. You can do this in whatever spreadsheet software you regularly use. Key pieces of information to include in your spreadsheet are:
- what the subscription is
- how much it costs
- the frequency that you are billed for it (monthly, quarterly, annually
- the payment due date
- what account the bill is paid from if it is paid automatically
- the web address for managing your subscription and (optionally) your login information
Update your spreadsheet whenever you sign up for a new subscription so that you have accurate information.
This method allows you to keep more information about your subscriptions and to track your spending over time. This can give you insight into your spending habits and allow you to reflect on your different services and how much use you get out of them.
No matter what method you choose, find one that will work for you and that you can maintain. It’s also important to remember when trial periods end, and you will start paying for a subscription. This will allow you to cancel the service if you don’t find yourself using it. In today’s world, subscription services seem to be a fact of life. Developing a strategy for managing them that works for you and that you can maintain is key!
Kimbree Redburn is an Accredited Financial Counselor® with a background in economic development. She works with her clients to help them understand their financial options and make money decisions with confidence. She believes that financial education gives people a chance to build a better life.