Unused Paid Subscriptions Leak Dollars from Americans’ Wallets

Financial Leaks

Today’s inflationary environment has many Americans practicing heightened vigilance about unnecessary spending. At the same time, a recent survey found that a large percentage of consumers have forgotten about some subscriptions, effectively leaking dollars from their wallets.

Market Research firm C&R Research found consumers’ $86 estimate of how much they spend monthly on subscriptions was way off. The actual average spend was $219 — more than twice as much. Given the proliferation of subscription-based services in recent years, and the automated nature of the charges, it’s easy to understand how this can happen.

Closing the Tap

Turning off the spigot on subscriptions you no longer use may take a bit of sleuthing.

Phone apps make it easy to spend on subscriptions through the Play Store or the iOS App Store. Those same sign-ups are also easy to forget. However, both Google (GOOGL) and Apple (APPL) maintain records of payments from your accounts.

When tracking subscriptions, be sure to take a comprehensive look at the past couple months of your spending from all your accounts.

Simply making a list of all the subscriptions you can think of is a good idea, but you could miss something — on a rarely-used credit card, for example — if you’re not careful.

Nip It in the Bud

After completing a bit of subscription spring cleaning, you may wonder how to avoid facing a similar mess in the future.

Putting all your monthly subscriptions on one card can simplify the way you keep track of your spending. If it makes sense for you, you can opt to always use the same account for recurring subscriptions.

Of course, if you use a credit card with a rewards system for which you pay off the balance each month, you could stand to earn a few miles or kickbacks on your subscription spending.

Moreover, though, limiting your subscription-based spending to one account can help you understand exactly how much money you can afford to burn on subscriptions every month: one payment of $150 every month vs. $30 here, $10 and $110 there.

This way, you could make the mental math of deciding if a new subscription is worth it when the time comes around: if you can only spend a certain amount on one card, you could limit yourself to a certain number of subscriptions at a time. This can help you make cancellation a good habit, instead of having the bad habit of being sign-up-happy.

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