Imagine what 2020 would have looked like without our streaming services. (And now breathe, because this is just hypothetical, and Tiger King exists).
For many, a world without our favourite subscription services is now almost incomprehensible. Our monthly direct debits have brought us music, movies, endless fitness and wellness motivation, fresh fruit and veg, and even a good old dose of mindfulness - right to our screens and doors.
But not every automatically-billed app or service is worth the cash.
Hidden among the must-haves there may be a bunch of non-essential and frankly forgotten subscriptions that your bank account could do without.
Assessing your apps and making some quick decisions about what stays and what goes is an important (and relatively easy step) towards improving your financial wellbeing. Here are some hot tips to get started:
Find the forgotten ones
Before you even start weighing up your priorities, there may be some lurking subscriptions that you’ve entirely forgotten about. The authors at Popular Science call this the “app-byss,” and it’s a good place to begin.
Audit your bank statements for recurring debits that don’t look familiar or necessary, and see if you can suspend or cancel any recurring bills that you’re not using. To dig a little deeper, sign into your app store (iOS, or Google or the like) and scroll through your current subscriptions to see what apps are automatically being charged to your account. As a last resort, search your email inbox for free trials that are ending, or ‘upcoming orders’ that you might have forgotten about.
Need, or want?
Once you know where your money is going, it’s time to decide if it’s worth it. This isn’t about saying no to everything, it’s just about assessing if you’re really getting your money’s worth:
Wellness apps and fitness memberships
If you’re actually using your membership to the local yoga or Pilates studio regularly, or your meditation app is keeping you healthy and happy, kiss that money goodbye. It’s worth it. But if you’re paying for five other similar services that you’ve never even finished setting up your profile for, it’s time to let it go or switch to the free versions where possible.
TV, music and movies
We’ve quickly gone from free-to-air only to a cornucopia of streaming services - all are useful on their own, but all at once might be a bit too much. Pick your favourites and relish in the joy of less choice stress. Or, consider pooling in with your friends for a family subscription - all the episodes and albums for a fraction of the cost.
Recent years have seen subscription meal services taking over our nightly cooking routines, and they can make home cooking fun and convenient. But grocery stores will still provide your best value. Consider staggering your food box orders to fortnightly instead of weekly and heading to your local grocer for the rest. Keep an eye out for special offers or referral bonuses if you want to stay on the subscription schedule.
You may have heard the saying - “if you haven’t used it in six months, you don’t need it.” When it comes to games, photo editing software apps, magazines, cloud storage and those browser plugins that you never use, less is more - unless it brings you real value.
A parting tip
If the sacrifice is just too great, a quick search may find you a cheaper or even free alternative to the service you’re using, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out.