Movies, shows, music on the go! Subscription services can bring tons of convenience to your super-busy life. But if you’re paying for services you don’t even use, they can also be a drag.
According to a recent Deloitte report, Americans were paying for an average of 12 entertainment and media subscriptions. 12! If you’re ready to streamline your subscriptions (and your budget) these tips can totally help.
1. Create a subscription inventory
First things: Make a list of everything you currently pay for, including:
- TV and movie streaming services
- Music streaming services
- Audiobook subscriptions
- Fitness subscriptions
- Health and beauty subscriptions
- Pet-related services (like BarkBox)
- Streaming or subscription services for kids (if you have them)
- Magazines and newspapers
Tip: A simple way to do this is to get your latest bank account statement and credit card statements, then go through them line by line. Add each to a list including the name of the service, what it’s for, how often you pay, and how much.
2. Decide which subscriptions you want to keep
Once you’ve got your subscription inventory, ask yourself how often you really use each one. (If the answer is not that often, move it to your “cancel” list!)
Tip 1: An easy way to tell how often you’re using a service = Try signing into your account. If you can’t remember your password – or get a message that it’s time to update your password – that’s a sign it’s time to cancel!
Tip 2: Look for any areas where streaming services might overlap. For example, if you’re paying for multiple TV and movie streaming services, do the same shows and movies show up on each one? If so, then you could choose one to keep then get rid of the others.
Tip 3: Consider whether any of your subscriptions come with added benefits. Amazon Prime Video, for example, makes it easy to stream movies and TV shows. And as an Amazon Prime customer, you also get the benefit of free two-day shipping on eligible items. If you shop Amazon regularly, the money you save on shipping could easily justify the annual fee for Amazon Prime, even if you don’t use Prime Video that often.
3. Cancel subscriptions manually
If you’ve whittled down the list of subscriptions you want to keep, the next step is canceling the ones you no longer need or use.
There are two ways you can do this:
- Cancel subscriptions manually
- Let an app cancel them for you
Canceling subscriptions manually usually means logging into your online account. If you can’t find where to cancel, you may have to call or email the subscription service provider to request a cancellation.
Tip 1: When you cancel a subscription service, take note of when it actually expires. For example, if you’ve already paid for a service through the 30th of the month and you cancel on the 25th, you may still be able to access the service for the remaining five days.
Tip 2: Once you’ve canceled, monitor your bank account or credit card statements for the next month or two to make sure you’re not charged again.
4. Let an app cancel subscriptions for you
If you’ve got a long list of subscriptions to cancel or you suspect you have subscriptions you’ve forgotten about, you may prefer to use an app to cancel them instead.
Here’s how these apps work in general:
- Download the app and link it to your bank account and/or credit card accounts
- The app monitors your bank account and credit card activity to identify recurring subscription services
- You tell the app which subscriptions you want to cancel and the app does it for you
Tip: Some of these apps can go a step further and negotiate savings on utility bills, cable bills and internet service. You might pay a fee to use them but you may easily get that back in savings by cutting your subscriptions and bills.
So which apps are the best for saving money on subscriptions? Here are some recommendations.
(Cost: Free for basic, $99/year for premium)
Trim is a financial manager that helps you to “trim” your monthly expenses by finding subscription services you don’t use and negotiating savings on bills. When you download Trim and connect it to your bank account, the app will give you a snapshot of where your money goes each month. You’ll be able to see at a glance which categories you spend the most in and which subscription services you’re paying for.
If you spot a subscription or membership service you want to cancel, Trim can do that for you. Trim can also haggle down some of your bills for added savings.
(Cost: $9 per canceled subscription)
Billshark is a personal finance app that can help you find savings in three ways:
- Lowering your bills
- Canceling subscriptions
- Helping you find the best deals on auto and home insurance
You can use this app to cancel dozens of subscriptions at the click of a button. Or you can have the app negotiate your bills to try and lower your monthly expenses. Billshark has a 90% success rate when it comes to helping its customers save money.
(Cost: Free, but commission fees may apply for bill negotiation services)
Clarity Money is designed to help you get clarity about your spending and grow your savings. The app looks at your spending to help you see where you can afford to cut back and how you can best make use of the money you save.
You can use Clarity Money to find subscription services and other recurring payments. If you see something you want to cut, you can get the process started through the app. Clarity Money can also help you with creating a budget and sticking to it each month.
(Cost: Free for basic, from $5 a month for paid)
TrackMySubs allows you to add your subscription services and keep track of them in one place. You can plug in the name of the service, what it’s for and what you’re paying.
This app also has another great feature: Keeping tabs on free trials. It’s easy to waste money if you sign up for a free trial for a subscription service, then forget to cancel. TrackMySubs can help you avoid that by sending you a reminder that a trial period is about to end.
When you’re trying to make every penny count, the little things in your budget can really add up. Giving unused subscriptions the boot can help you find extra money you can add to your savings account. And you can even save time by letting an app do the heavy lifting for you!