Save money on recurring online and offline subscriptions.
From Hulu to Netflix, and from a monthly beauty box to Amazon Prime, many companies use the subscription model these days. While each one of these online and/or offline subscriptions is likely to be affordable on its own, they slowly add up. All those meal boxes, cell phone plans, dating apps and other monthly bills quickly add up. In fact, on average Americans spend well over $110 per month on recurring monthly subscriptions, not counting their cable or TV services. The amount spent each month also continues to increase.
You may not be aware of how your credit monitoring subscriptions, streaming services and news services build up until you begin to total them up. Even just having several different subscriptions that amount to $10 each a month can cost you more than $700 a year. But as noted, the average family is now spending over $110 per month, or $1300 per year on any of hundreds of monthly recurring subscriptions.
Cancel the free trials to subscription services
If you like to subscribe to free trials with your credit card, you do need to remember to cancel them before those monthly charges kick in. MasterCard and Visa have are trying to protect customers in that subscriptions to physical products can no longer be automatically charged to your card monthly. You need to re-approve these subscriptions each month. Vendors offering recurring services, however, can still automatically charge to your card.
To make sure that you don't find your money drained by such subscriptions, it's important that you take charge. When you sign up for a free trial, be sure to monitor that service to cancel it if and when needed. Also review your accounts at minimum quarterly and set up calendar reminders.
Audit of all your accounts
Study all your credit and debit card statements for recurring charges. Do this at least quarterly. You need to count everything from pest control services and home security services to video as well as streaming services. Look for Netflix, cable bills, phone charges, and others. Some credit card companies automatically identify and group your recurring charges for you.
Once you have a full list, you need to multiply each one by twelve to arrive at the figure that you pay for the whole year. If you're hit with sticker shock when you see how large the sum is, you should plan to cancel a few subscriptions.
Assess how much value you receive for each subscription
A gym membership may be valuable on its own, until you realize that you don't use it much. A subscription service for shaving razors that you don't need, a subscription box service for exotic foods that you don't enjoy -- all of these may need to go. Do your best to be “realistic” and not “emotional”. In other words, if you do not use the subscription service, and use it infrequently, cancel it.
Sometimes, you may need to cancel services, simply because they are redundant. If you subscribe to cable television, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, for example, you're paying for considerable overlap. It would be a good idea to decide which one of these services you would like to let go of.
It's important to carefully think about the value that you receive for your money, and make up your mind in an objective way. This brings out the “emotion” when it comes to canceling.
Cancel then resign up for subscriptions
Since many of the companies have a major online presence, they allow you to easily log on to suspend the service or cancel it. Do it at will. This is a great option for the streaming services – binge watch a few shows on Hulu, Netflix, Disney, etc. then cancel the online service to save money. Then sign up again in the future when a new show comes on.
The same concept can be done for other services. Cancel Birchbox or that beauty box when you have enough beauty products then sign up later. Have too much wine or beer of the month stocked up – cancel the recurring monthly subscription then sign up again later after you have made a dent in your alcohol!
Try to share the cost of subscriptions
Some vendors allow you to share your subscription with others. With some subscription plans on the New York Times, for example, you get a bonus pass to share it with someone. If it's YouTube TV or Netflix, you can share accounts with family members. You can even share your cell phone plan with your family.
Negotiate lower prices or get discounts
A very effective way to save money is to call the provider and ask for a lower monthly cost. The fact is there is a lot of competition out there, whether it is Cable TV, online videos, gyms, cell service, home security, or anything else. Many corporations would rather give you a discount or a free month or two rather than lose you as a customer. It benefits you because you can save money, and it benefits the corporation as they get to save a little on needing to market their services for another customer – its saves on their customer acquisition costs.
Call the company and tell them you are thinking of cancelling. Or call the company and just ask them for a deal or sale price, or say you are facing a hardship. As many companies offer new customers discounts, so ask for a “new customer” monthly rate too. There are even professionals bill negotiation services that call companies on your behalf for discounts and savings on offline or online subscription services, and they do it for free. They only charge you based on their savings.
Try to get a lower level of service
Whether you're paying for software, a streaming service or access to a website, it's possible to opt for a lower tier of service for less money. If you have a credit card that comes with an annual fee, you can even downgrade to a free card while keeping your credit history.
To make sure that you save money, it can be a good plan to start by canceling as many services as you can, waiting to see which ones you really miss, and then re-subscribing. Managing subscription creep can be hard when you don't take a deliberate look at all the subscriptions that you have, and realize how they add up.
Get paid for referrals to the recurring subscription services
A number of monthly subscription services, in particular the online companies, are trying to grow as quickly as possible. The corporations tend to be more profitable if they have more customers, and the industry tends to be new. To help them grow, they often offer referral bonuses.
This means that if you are a customer, such as too a meal subscription program, beauty box, streaming plan, or many others, you can refer a friend or family member to either (1) get paid a bonus or (2) get a credit on your account. The point is you can save money on a subscription service by in effect of “making money” from a referral program.