How To Subscribe Without Trying

Dog subscribing to deliveries. West Financial Services.

It all started with magazines and the thrill I got with each delivery.  There was a whole new world of information and potential to explore each month.  Then there was the service that regularly delivered panty hose (I could select colors and thickness) to my home.  At some point, the sheer volume of hosiery that I owned was not consistent with my needs and I tapped out on that service.  But the goods and services subscription industry was just getting started with me and everyone else, it seemed. 

In July 2022, Forbes magazine reported that the subscription industry was predicted to be around $120 billion in 2022, with projected growth to $904 billion by 2026.  In 2021 alone, existing subscriptions increased by 31 percent.  We are talking about box subscriptions (BarkBox, Birchbox, FabFitFun), digital content (Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu) and other services (Amazon) – really an online retailer can create a subscription for just about anything.

From the business perspective, subscriptions result in increased customer purchases and, more importantly, a recurring revenue stream which can improve cash flow.  On the consumer side, subscription services provide a predictable ongoing cost that helps from a budgeting perspective.

But what happens when you have a proliferation of convenient subscription services that you really don’t need?  How many television streaming services can you objectively consume to make the (relatively) low cost make sense?  The same thing goes for music streaming services.  Have you ever stopped to add up what ongoing, monthly subscriptions are costing you?

When I had to get a new credit card (for the second time in two months) due to a fraud alert, I decided to move my subscription charges to a separate card.  This allows me to see how my ongoing service costs are adding up.  Year-to-date, I’ve been paying about $500 per month on average for the convenience of ongoing goods and services.  Now, approximately $200 of that is medication for my dog, but there are also the online workout streaming services, the obligatory Netflix and Spotify subscriptions and a coffee bean subscription from a favorite R.I. vendor. 

Even at this level, it seems like my auto-replenish amounts are not as high as they could be.  Admittedly, I let go of another streaming television platform and pushed pause on a clothing rental subscription earlier in the year.  But sometimes it isn’t as easy to identify what products and services you are really using, when you just keep getting them every month.

My suggestion then is to try out different services and evaluate how well they work within your lifestyle.  How often do you reach for that product, or do you have a backlog that you must work your way through?  Are there programs that you wanted to watch on certain platforms that you are no longer watching on a regular basis?  Do you use streaming workouts or online learning platforms regularly?  If not, then think about editing these monthly costs.  I’ve heard there are subscription services that help you to manage your subscription services.

Meet Kristan L. Anderson, CEBS®, CFP® »

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