Each month, millions of people mindlessly let their credit cards get charged for all sorts of recurring subscriptions and services. Some people may find themselves wasting thousands of dollars each year on subscriptions, many of which go unused a good portion of the year.
If you see regularly recurring charges on your monthly statement, it is time to think about how to focus on the big wins to save yourself a load of cash. Find motivation to save money by putting that extra cash aside to pay off your student loans, save for retirement, or maybe even fund a trip across the world.
Review your recurring bills
You can find plenty of advice from finance experts on how to save money by cutting visits to coffee shops, buying generic instead of name brands, and making your own shampoo and deodorant.
But if you take ten minutes and instead focus on big wins, you may find yourself saving more than a few bucks. The best place to start when you want to get a big win is focusing on recurring spending you already do without thinking twice.
Between cell phone bills, entertainment, online apps, and other subscription services, you could be spending hundreds of dollars per month that doesn’t give you back hundreds of dollars in value.
Really look at each recurring charge on your credit card and bank statements to see what they are, then analyze each one and decide whether it should stay, go, or something in between.
Cancel where you don’t get value
If you see charges for a service you don’t use at all, those should be the first to go. Prime candidates are credit score monitoring services (you can get that for free elsewhere), websites and apps you no longer use, and anything you don’t remember or recognize.
You should be able to quickly call and cancel any of these services in just a few minutes. Here’s some motivation to save money: Saving $20 per month on subscriptions you don’t use is worth $240 per year, the same as skipping a Starbucks a week for a year.
Cut where you use less
Once you take care of the low-hanging fruit, look at other subscription plans you regularly use but have a big monthly cost. Many people overpay for things like cell phone plans, where they use much less data each month than they pay for.
If you find that you are paying for more data than you need, call your cell phone company and switch to a lower plan. You can also look at alternative cell phone companies like Google Fi or Republic Wireless for bigger savings opportunities.
The same is true for subscriptions that have tiered membership plans, such as Netflix. Are you really using all the bells and whistles that are included in your membership, or would a simpler (and cheaper) plan be a better fit?
Find discounts and deals
When you sign up for new cable or TV service from a company like Comcast, you’re usually lured in with a sweet deal like “pay only $49 per month for the first 6 months,” only to see your bill double when the introductory period ends.
Many people don’t realize that you can call at the end of the period and get another discount. Sometimes you have to wait an additional 6 months before you qualify for a new discount, but you can always save money at some point with the big internet providers.
Last year I saw my Comcast internet bill jump at the end of our discount period. My wife called and less than 20 minutes later our bill was back to the monthly cost we had before. In only a few minutes, she saved us $25 per month — that’s $300 per year.
Make sure a subscription really means saving
It’s easy to assume that a membership will save you money over time, but sitting down to do the math could save you big bucks.
Take, for example, a gym or yoga studio membership. Compare the single visit price to the monthly membership fee. How many times must you go each month to make the membership fee worthwhile?
If you aren’t saving money, consider switching to a per-visit payment model. You’ll still have access to the service, but at a price that more accurately reflects your use.
Find motivation to save money
Keeping up with the Joneses is an old, outdated mentality. Just because your neighbor has an Escalade or the newest iPhone does not mean they can really afford it, and you shouldn’t base what you want on other people’s lifestyles.
Instead, focus on what you value. Make a list of money-saving goals in order of priority, and figure out what financial changes you need to reach them. Whether it is traveling the world, visiting every national park, or getting that sweet new gaming rig, it’s fine to spend on what you value, as long as you are willing to make cuts on things you don’t.
The next time your statement arrives in the mail or your inbox, don’t ignore it. Look at how you can save, and think of the possibilities ahead.
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