Over the past decade or so, one of the biggest changes to our monthly budgets has been the astronomical increase in the number of services, companies, and brands offering subscriptions rather than flat one-time purchases. Whether you’re a fan or a critic of the world’s shift towards subscription services, the simple fact of the matter is that we’re living in this new reality, and many of us aren’t prepared for how to budget for it effectively.
So as we enter the first few days of 2023, here are a few ways to get your ballooning subscription costs under control, so you can use that saved cash for something more important.
Perhaps the most dastardly and devious development in this new subscription-focused cultural environment is the seemingly benign “free trial.” At this point, we know the drill: you sign up for a free trial, and you do your due diligence, read the fine print, and know that it says “will renew automatically at $xx/month unless canceled by x date.” We may even put that date into our calendars. But what inevitably happens? Time passes, we forget about it, we clear that little calendar notification without thinking, and–bang! - that’s an extra $10, $15, $20 per month coming out of our bank accounts.
One of the biggest benefits of keeping a budget each month is that when these unexpected charges happen, we can catch them early on. If you aren’t keeping a budget or keeping a close eye on your bank transactions, you may never notice that missing money until a year has passed and you’re wondering why you’re out a couple hundred bucks you weren’t planning to lose. But if you budget effectively, you can catch these forgotten subscriptions early on and cancel them before you lose significant money.
They say that trends are cyclical, and that seems to hold true with marketing, too – remember when “bundle and save” was the go-to selling point for every telecom company in the era of cable TV? Well, guess what: it’s back!
If you subscribe to lots of streaming services, you’d be amazed at what you can save by combining accounts using bundle packages. For example, you can get a reduced monthly cost by bundling Disney+ and Hulu, or by taking advantage of Spotify Premium Duo to share costs with a friend, partner, or family member to pay less while maintaining your individual account settings.
It’s not just the big streaming apps that offer savings through bundles, though. More and more tech and software companies are going the subscription route, and in doing so, you can often get a discount by bundling software together. For example, rather than buying into a Microsoft Word subscription on its own (yes, Microsoft Word is a subscription service now!), you can subscribe to Microsoft 365 and gain access to Word, Powerpoint, and other Microsoft software that you’re already using day-in and day-out.
Does this all sound like a headache? Don’t worry; you’re hardly alone. In fact, so many people have trouble tracking their monthly spending and subscriptions that new apps and tech services have sprung up specifically to help automatically manage these tricky expenditures.
A whole host of apps have come out in the last few years that can help manage finances and unwanted subscriptions. Software services like Trim, Rocket Money, and PocketGuard will track your spending, alert you of potentially unused subscriptions, and even cancel them automatically. Some even go so far as offering automated services to negotiate more traditional subscriptions like internet, TV, and phone bills–potentially saving you even more money.
The shift to subscription-focused payment options for popular apps, software, and services may be convenient, but it can also cloud our sense of how much we’re spending. We’re acutely aware of when we drop $120 on a major one-time purchase, but it’s so much easier to justify “$10/month” even though it works out the same at the end of the year.
Now that we’re finally in 2023, one of the best ways you can save money is by auditing your subscriptions and canceling or amending any that aren’t serving you well enough to justify the costs. And if you need a bit of extra breathing room even after you’ve scrimped and saved? At Spotloan, our simple online application process can help you qualify for the money you need, even if you have bad credit or need a loan quickly. All you have to do is go fill out our application to see if you qualify, and you could receive a decision within minutes. Fill out our application now!