I know this post comes just one day after I mentioned how everyone who uses Marco Polo (and I mean, if you aren’t using it yet, what are you waiting for???) should sign up for a Plus subscription, but it did get me thinking about subscription fatigue.
Back in the day, you would pay for software once. After about a year, you’d have to purchase the software again if you wanted the latest version. Many companies would offer discounts for people who are upgrading from a previous version. Now, most software vendors have adopted a subscription model where you pay an annual or monthly fee, and upgrades are automatically included in your purchase price. It generally comes out to about the same cost, except for the fact you maybe would skip an upgrade here or there to save some money.
Netflix and others paved the way for a new model, which is the “SaaS” model we are pretty accustomed to now. Paying a monthly or annual fee for the right to use the software is becoming the norm. Now we have new services coming out it seems almost daily, and our small monthly subscription fees are becoming a huge hit to the budget. I even have a whole budget category for it, and it’s growing all the time.
When your subscriptions are becoming overwhelming, it might be time to take a look at them and see which ones you are using and which ones you can live without. It can be pretty hard to make those decisions though. I know it’s difficult for me, since I like keeping things around that I MIGHT use someday soon, even if I’m not using it right this minute.
So, let’s break it down by category!
There are quite a few apps I keep subscriptions for that I use on a regular basis. Marco Polo is the obvious choice, but there’s also my to-do list app, some smart home apps, Quickbooks Self-Employed, and some photo apps I use for my social media stuff for my blog.
An easy way to see your current and past subscriptions is to open the Google Play store and then select “Subscriptions” from the left side menu. On Apple devices go to Settings then tap on your name and select Subscriptions.
If you use the app on a regular basis, then definitely it’s one to keep, but if you only occasionally use it, definitely consider cancelling it.
TV & Movies
Here’s the biggy. This includes Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN, and more. New services are coming out regularly too like NBC’s new Peacock service and HBO Max (not to be confused with HBO GO or HBO NOW… they really need to get their branding straightened out, for sure).
You could also be paying for live streaming through YouTube TV, SlingTV, DirecTV Now, or even Hulu. It’s a great idea to add up the costs of all of the entertainment services you are currently paying for and probably cut it down to at least 2. Pick the ones you absolutely could not live without. Then use a #3 slot to switch out different services throughout the year.
For example, if you are paying for SlingTV and Disney+ because you use those regularly, you could sign up for Netflix for 2 months, catch up on the latest seasons or shows that are there, and then cancel and sign up for Hulu for 2 months and catch up there. I really like using this rotating model since there are contracts you can cancel and sign up as often as you want. This also helps make sure you don’t miss out on something great!
I’m lumping Music and Audiobooks together here because they are both things you listen to. Obviously Audible is #1 in the game here, and Spotify is the #1 for music, but there are definitely other options. If you absolutely have to pick one, obviously go with the one you listen to the most. Are you mostly listening to books? Can you supplement the music portion with an ad supported free subscription to Spotify? Are you a huge music fan, and don’t listen to a ton of books? Definitely weigh the pros and cons here and figure out which one you can’t live without.
Another category in my subscription list is fitness. This could be a subscription to a gym, or a streaming fitness service (or in my case, several streaming fitness services… I have a problem). Picking just one service from this category is definitely enough. I would choose a service that inspires you to actually get fit. If you have a subscription you never use, maybe it’s time to find a different one. I would also choose one that has a good variety, but if you like to do the same workouts all the time, than this might not be quite as important to you.
The best fitness program is one you will do, so find one that speaks to you and schedule it into your day.
I do such a small amount of reading that I almost forgot this category completely. I do listen to books on Audible, but I don’t generally read actual books a ton. It’s not that I don’t like reading, it’s just that I have no self control. If I start a book, I will pretty much do nothing until it is finished, so I just don’t even start. I don’t have time in my life right now to do nothing while I finish a book.
There are a few services for reading books, including Kindle Unlimited from Amazon and Scribd. There are also subscriptions for reading magazines online. I had a subscription to Texture for years until they sold out to Apple and stopped offering it for Android devices. I have recently found one that is the same as Texture called Readly, which I’m currently loving. I can read all my favorite magazines for one monthly fee, which is awesome.
If reading is important to you, you’ll definitely want to include at least one ebook/magazine subscription in your list.
Another category you might be forgetting are services you pay for on a regular basis. These are things like a car wash membership, massages, preschool or sports programs could even be considered a subscription when you get right down to it.
Obviously this one is completely subjective. Something that is important for one person to pay for, may seem frivolous to another. No judgement on what people decide to spend their money on. If it’s important to you for the cost, then keep paying it. If you think about it, and decide it’s not really needed then you can cancel the subscription for sure.
Another somewhat recent craze is subscription boxes. There are boxes for fashion, STEM, babies, food, and on and on. Anything you are into, you can find a subscription box to go with it. The idea is you pay a monthly fee and the company sends you some products they think you might like. Not all subscription boxes are created equal.
We prefer to do the STEM subscription boxes since I have very particular fashion tastes (read: I love jeans and t-shirts). Some subscription boxes just end up sending you a bunch of samples of products and end up not being worth the month.
Do your research before you sign up for one, and read some unbiased reviews of them. You should be able to weed out the duds.
All the major gaming platforms offer (and sometimes almost require to play some games) a subscription to their online services. Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo all have subscriptions you might want to sign up for. If you have multiple gaming systems in your home, you may want to just choose the one that gets used online the most. If you aren’t planning on playing online at all, you should be able to use the system just fine without a subscription though.
It’s really overwhelming how many subscriptions you can be signed up for these days. If you are looking at tightening the budget, the majority of these subscriptions are in the “nice to have” category and can probably be cut from the budget. Maybe pick ONE category and keep a subscription there and get rid of the rest.