Updated: Feb 8
" I did my own subscription review and cleansing and I saved over $100 a month. What I learned is how simple it is to lose track of the number of subscriptions I had"
By: Allan R Kirby
“Subscription Overload or Oversubscribed to me means the inability to effectively manage all the subscription services being utilized by someone and making effective decisions on what to do with those subscriptions."
The subscription economy has been growing by more than 100% percent per year over the past five years and this growth will likely continue for the foreseeable future. I think we can agree that there was a time when adding a subscription such as Netflix or Amazon Prime made our lives easier and in a sense it did. It gave us the ability to easily shop on line and watch TV on demand from home while not being tied to specific store hours or TV schedules. We could set our own schedules. However, today we find ourselves involved in a subscription economy where it is now more common to find people with five or even ten subscriptions on the go. This includes myself. I laughingly thought I had just a few subscriptions when I started drafting this article and another , but shockingly I found I was actually oversubscribed without even realizing it.
“Check out my current page on subscriptions services, I have found over 200+ subscriptions and I am only scratching the surface"
My Subscription Review
I will admit, my subscription review was a sobering reminder that even personal finance writers such as myself can get things wrong and this was one of those moments. I did not think I had many subscriptions, in fact I thought maybe two or three, but in the end I had well over 10. Yes, that is not a typo. When I included magazines, software, cellular and VoIP phone services, TV streaming, online news, subscription boxes etc... I was spending in excess of $200 a month. I really had to sit back and take a deep breath and figure out why?
“Costs can creep up and watch out for tired services"
First, the reasons why this situation occurred turned out to be simple. Most of the services are incredibly cheap, such as the dollar shave club which is just a few bucks a month or CBS All Access that is only $5 a month; so nothing that costly. Second, looking a little more closely, I began to realize that many of the services I originally purchased had increased in price, albeit small increases but nevertheless increases, which were slowly taking a bite out of my budget. Netflix had become more expensive as well as some of my magazine subscriptions and other streaming services over time. I also began to see how in some situations, my costs had increased as a result of moving myself up a subscription tier such as Sirius XM radio, where I could get all the channels, regardless if I used them or not. The original point of using several of these services was to reduce costs, which they did. Overall many of my subscriptions are still great deals. The problem becomes one of necessity. Do I really need them? This is where I finally had to sit down and figure out what I want out of my subscriptions, which led me to do my first subscription cleaning.
“Do a subscription review and clean"
I really needed to be honest with myself and take the time to review all my subscriptions. This meant determining what subscriptions should be kept and what should be cancelled. Initially I thought this would require making some tough choices since for some people it can be difficult to effectively decide what to keep and what to cancel. Fortunately for myself I am much more pragmatic when I deal with money and the more I reviewed the more I realized that I did not need all the services that I had. To begin with, I found that on average I was driving less than 5,000 miles per year. In fact most of my driving was just a few miles a day at most and I also realized I was not even listening to Sirius XM radio on those short drives so why keep it? The same with Netflix, I initially kept it but I soon realized, after discussing it with my family, that no one was actually using it, so it was dropped. The same can be said with CBS All Access which was being used only a couple of times a month, so it too was cancelled. I also got rid of my magazines. Why not just stay with Apple News+. It is cheaper and I get a lot more information, so that was an easy sell. Finally I dumped my monthly gym subscription, I had kept it even though I have access to a free gym, which I now use every day. Once I completed my subscription review, I felt I had done a reasonably good job while also improving my cash flow. Yes, I have a little more money each month and that makes me happy. Overall I think I saved over $100.00 per month by doing my first subscription cleansing but I really could have cut more.
What I cut:
1. CBS All Access.
3. Two magazine subscriptions.
4. Sirius XM radio.
5. Gym membership.
“Having researched over 200 subscriptions, I found that you are at times better served just to go to a store and buy what you need"
This was a simple exercise but one that proves that you can end up oversubscribed and may not even realize it. What I learned is that you should try and keep track of your subscriptions and ensure that you are using these subscriptions to its full potential. For example, having CBS All Access is cheap but it’s still money lost if you’re not using it. The subscription model is not really new, subscriptions have been around for years but the sheer number and complexities of services available has grown substantially. You could end up like myself with many subscriptions that are costing you money. So, you need to ask yourself is there real value with my subscription? Ask yourself whether it is really necessary to have a specific subscription; will I use it? Sometimes you may find yourself better served by just going to the local Target or Walmart and picking up similar items at the store rather than do a box subscription. In fact, you may find it less costly and it allows you to get only what you want.