Subscriptions are easier to sign up for than ever these days, thanks to smartphones and attractive introductory deals. However, once the honeymoon period is over, costs can get surprisingly high. If one of your goals is to get your finances in line, you can start by canceling monthly or annual subscription costs.
Keep the subscriptions that maintain your safety, such as home security and antivirus software, but everything else should be bucketed into “want” or “need” piles. Remember that everyone’s priorities are different. The gym rat can’t live without their fitness membership but could skip the meal delivery service. The news junkie may not be able to give up their newspaper subscription but could live without Spotify.
Video Streaming Services
According to Deloitte’s digital media trends survey, 80% of U.S. households had at least one streaming service in 2020. Among those who subscribe, the average number of paid streaming video subscriptions was five. This reflects the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when everyone was stuck at home. As more and more activities open up, it’s time to ratchet down the number of services.
Depending on the price plan you are on, the top five video streaming subscription services (Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime) each cost around $6-$13 per month, plus tax. Unsubscribing to just one of these would save you at least $72 per year on the lowest end.
Gaming and Music Services
Both Apple Music and Spotify have individual plans for $10 per month (lower rates for students, and a higher rate for families). If you can stand sitting through ads, you can save $120 a year by going with the free version of Spotify.
As for gaming, spring is here, and it may be time to turn off the devices and head outside. Giving up your basic Xbox Game Pass or PlayStation Now subscription could save another $10-20 monthly.
Fans tout the convenience and surprise factor, but is your monthly beauty box or clothing box a want or a need? Accessibility and replenishment (such as Dollar Shave Club) are compelling reasons to maintain a subscription, but if you’re subscribing because you’re excited to receive a gift that you purchased for yourself, then cancel the box and instead surprise yourself with $150-$300 in your pocket a year from now.
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On the first Sunday of January, dating apps see a spike in sign-ups, as users join with the goal of finding new connections for the year.
If you’ve found your soulmate, cancel that subscription! If not, you can still save by either adjusting your subscription level or reducing the number of services you pay for.
For instance, switching from Tinder Platinum to Tinder Gold could save you anywhere between $3-$25 per month. Popular plans from Match, Tinder and Bumble run between $10-$25 (and as high as $40) per month, so by dropping one you could see a savings of at least $120 annually.
Gyms and Fitness
RunRepeat surveyed over 11,000 gym members globally and found that nearly 30% of those surveyed canceled their gym membership during the pandemic. Prior to gym shutdowns, around 22% of gym members who sign up stop going six months into their membership.
A gym membership can range from $10 per month for a basic Planet Fitness membership to $100 (or more) per month for a high-end fitness center. If you work out regularly, keep your membership to maintain your fitness goals. If not, it’s time to reevaluate.
During the pandemic, did you subscribe to a bunch of fitness apps that you’re only using sparingly? Start trimming. Popular downloads such as Map My Fitness, Nike Training Club and Couch to 5K have free options that might fit your needs, and you can keep the $7 a month (or more) in your wallet.
Remember when you purchased a T-shirt from Hot Topic for your niece? Do you now get Hot Topic emails every week? It’s time to unsubscribe to emails you don’t need.
While you’re at it, remove yourself from the mailing lists of the stores you do purchase from. The Federal Trade Commission requires marketing mails to include an opt out link (generally at the very bottom, in a tiny font).
Deleting your inbox clutter can reduce the chance of unexpected spending. If you really need something from your favorite store, go straight to the website. Most of the time you’ll see the same deals that were promoted over email.
Make Sure You’re Saving With Subscribe and Save
Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program (and others like it) can save you between 5%-15% off purchases you make regularly, like vitamins or batteries, but make sure you are saving money. In some cases, a brand will entice you to subscribe with a steep discount for your first order and reverts to a higher price the following month. Or the price of your subscribed item changes and you don’t realize it.
Review your subscriptions to make sure the deal is still valuable or consider changing the frequency to every other month to save money while keeping the convenience.
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Meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh can be a lifeline for busy couples or families, but can they survive a budget spring cleaning?
Blue Apron starts at $40 per week for a two-recipe plan for two people, ranging up to $120 a week for four recipes for a family of four (plus shipping). Do a simple web search and you’ll find there are less expensive ways to feed your household.
You can also reduce the frequency from weekly to bi-weekly or look for introductory discounts or coupons for other services looking for new subscribers. At a minimum, you’ll save yourself the cost of a handful of meals.
Magazines and Newspapers
It pains this journalist to say this, but count your digital and print magazine or newspaper subscriptions and decide if you need all of them.
A daily newspaper delivery of The New York Times (or your hometown paper) can range between $480-$1,000 a year. Transitioning to a digital-only subscription can save you more than $500 annually.
Hint: Contact customer service to cancel your subscription. Chances are you’ll be offered a lower price for a few months as an incentive to stay. You will have to go through the process again down the road but will save some dollars in the meantime.
All of the Apps
In 2020, Apple generated $643 billion in iOS subscription app revenue, and Google earned $38.6 billion in Google Play subscription app revenue. Between the two platforms, there are more than 3 million different apps available for download.
While we’ve visited a few of the more popular genres throughout this slideshow, everyone has different tastes. It will be up to you to prioritize which ones to keep and which you can cancel.
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Sam DiSalvo contributed to the reporting for this article.