Frugal Living: Subscription Overload - I found that I had too many, Do you?

Updated: Sep 1

" Do you have too many subscriptions? I did my own subscription review and I saved over $220 a month. What I learned is how simple it is to lose track of the number of subscriptions I had."

Key Takeaways:

  1. The number of subscriptions you have can add up.

  2. Doing my own subscription review saved me over $2,640.

  3. Learn to manage your subscriptions.


By: Allan R Kirby


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 online and watch TV on demand from home while not being tied to specific store hours or TV schedules. We could set our own schedules.


Unfortunately there are now so many subscriptions available to easily sign up for, you can easily lose track of how many subscriptions you have. This is what I found out. I thought I had just a few subscriptions when I started drafting this article but I was shocked to find how many I actually had. By the time I finished this article I had done my first subscription review.


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, maybe two or three, but in the end I had well over 10. When I included magazines, software, cellular and VoIP phone services, TV, TV streaming, online news, subscription boxes etc... I was spending in excess of $300 a month. I really had to sit back and take a deep breath and figure out why?


What subscriptions are worth it? Basically the ones that you use the most. Currently the most popular subscriptions are for TV and Movie content such as Disney+, Netflix, Peacock, HBO etc.

Cheap subscription services can add up!


Most of the services I had were incredibly cheap, such as the dollar shave club and CBS All Access both well under $10 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. However 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.


How Many Subscription Services Is Too Many? It really comes down to whether you are using them and need them. If you do not need them, cancel.

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. Fortunately for myself I am much more pragmatic when I deal with money so the more I reviewed the more I realized that I did not need all the services I had.


“Tiered services and small incremental subscription increases will add up. Tiered pricing allows companies to offer several different combinations of services, features and products. The plan is to get subscribers to buy into the higher pricing packages."

My approach was simple, I just listed all of my subscriptions and began to ask myself are they work keeping. If I could not justify it then I would cancel the subscription. It actually surprised me on what I would end dropping.


What I cut:


1. Sirius XM radio.

2. CBS All Access.

3. Netflix.

4. Satellite TV.

4. Two magazine subscriptions.

5. Gym membership.


Be logical when cutting


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? Plus with Covid-19 I am almost ready to give up my car. So the subscription had to go. Savings $15.00 a month


Other Entertainment / Leisure I cut


With Covid-19 we are all watching more on line, more than ever before. I however have not been using the services as much as I used to, the same could be said with my satellite T.V. This is the first that I cancelled, which saved me $120 a month. Next came the online content. I currently watch all my shows on a google box and I found I was not using either Netflix or CBS All Access. After speaking to my family I decided to cancel both, this again saved me more money. Finally I had to cancel my magazines, it made perfect sense since I can get 10 times more with Apple News+ and it's cheaper. Saving $165.00 a month


Gym Membership


I dumped my monthly gym subscription, I had kept my membership even though I have access to a free gym at my other job, which I now use when I am allowed. Saving $40.00 a month.


Once I completed my subscription review, I felt I had done a reasonably good job while also improving my cash flow. Look, the exercises were simple, it did not take long but admittingly it took more time to actually cancel the memberships, the most difficult was the gym membership which was not surprising. Overall I saved over $220.00 per month. That's $2,640+ a year! by doing my first subscription cleansing but I really could have cut more.


Learn to Manage your Subscriptions


One of the key takeaways from doing my own subscription review and cleanup is that I need to better manage what I have. In my case I will likely just manage them through my budget and just take a note on what I am subscribed to. However there are apps available today that can help you manage and even cancel your subscriptions. For example, there is TrueBill and Trim both are good apps to help you monitor anc cancel your subscriptions. Trim however does go a little further because it can negotiate cable, internet and phone bills on your behalf. It will also cancel subscriptions that you have but no longer want.


How Much Are We Paying for Our Subscription Services? If you were like me it would likely be a lot, it can add up to hundreds.

Ask yourself do you need all the subscriptions:


Finally when looking at subscriptions Just ask yourself if you really need all of the subscriptions. Are you using them? is it worth 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. Ultimately you need to decide however there are just too many subscriptions available, and it can be exhausting at times to keep track of everything.


Do you have subscription fatigue? Maybe it's time to take control and get rid of them.

This was a simple exercise but one that proves that you can end up with too many subscriptions and 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 too many subscriptions that are costing you money.


Frugal Living is a segment of the MySmallBank.com blog written by Allan R Kirby, who writes and produces Personal Finance articles and videos along with My Success Magazine.


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