Raise your hand if you signed up for grocery delivery in the past two years. Or added a few more streaming services to your collection. Or decided to get those zit-removing patches on Amazon delivered to you every three weeks.
Subscription services have become a quick go-to for tons of people. But how much are we actually paying for these recurring services? Is this the reason why our generation can’t afford houses?
Oh right, that’s still because of those pesky avocados.
What Kind of Subscriptions Are We Talking About?
We may not have flying cars yet, but in this version of the future you can have nearly every thing you need literally or virtually delivered to your door on a regular basis.
Groceries? You got it. TV shows? Definitely. Treats and toys for your four-legged child? Absolutely. Even if they only love the box it comes in.
How Much Do Subscriptions Cost You?
West Monroe’s 2021 report “The State of Subscription Services Spending” found that Americans increased their spending by 15 percent from 2018 to 2021, spending an average of $273/month on subscription services across 21 categories.
That’s almost a whole other car payment – without the convenient space to privately shove a burrito in your face.
“You can get a subscription for nearly anything these days, and it’s easy to overload your budget with them,” explains Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub. “Because subscriptions are set up to automatically charge your credit card every month for small amounts, you can end up not even knowing how much you’re paying for them.”
Let’s take a cursory glance at media streaming services, to see how things add up pretty quickly. Which is more than we can say about season one of Yellowjackets.
On month of YouTube TV is $64.99. The Hulu Disney bundle with Live TV is $69.99, And, that Netflix Premium subscription is $19.99. That’s $154.97 per month to just ignore something on TV while you mindlessly scroll on your phone.
And don’t forget about free trials. They’re tempting and easy to forget to cancel before the free period ends. Even if it’s something as simple as a $.99 per month app that sends you motivational messages in a British accent, Gonzalez would like to remind you that all those little monthly charges add up.
But, What If You Like Your Subscription Service?
If you have secret passion for Hallmark movies, we won’t tell you to cancel your Frndly TV subscription. And if the grocery store is your own personal version of a haunted house, keep getting those Hungryroot deliveries!
But, make like Marie Kondo, and assess how much joy it brings you.
“Subscriptions are worth it if they provide you with products or services that you truly use on a regular basis,” Gonzalez says. “Getting a random surprise box or a new bottle of wine each month can be fun. But if you want to keep your budget in check, you should cut those subscriptions that aren’t necessary or useful.”
That’s right – you have to actually look at the money coming out of your accounts every month. Canceling services that you no longer use or streaming apps that you no longer watch can help to lighten the load on your bank account.
How To Be Smart With Monthly Subscriptions
Take a deep breath – we aren’t going to tell you to cancel everything and miss the new season of Emily In Paris. How else are you going to learn grammatically incorrect French?
Instead, Gonzalez offers some ideas for managing costs:
- Audit your spending by searching the “Subscription” section in your phone.
- Use an app that monitors your subscriptions, like Trubill, Mint, or Bobby.
- Use the same card to pay for all your subscriptions so you can see all the charges in one place.
Gonzalez also recommends using a virtual card with a set expiration date and syncing billing dates to stay on top of what you’re paying. And, we recommend setting a calendar reminder for yourself so you remember to cancel that free trial before it expires.
And, of course, having a list of subscriptions and regularly evaluating what you actually use will help you be more aware of your subscriptions. Hopefully more than the people in the West Monroe subscription poll.
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