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How to Manage Subscriptions

Written by Allison Martin

Allison Martin is a personal finance enthusiast and a passionate entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience, Allison has made a name for herself as a syndicated financial writer. Her articles are published in leading publications, like Banks.com, Bankrate, The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, and Investopedia. When she’s not busy creating content, Allison travels nationwide, sharing her knowledge and expertise in financial literacy and entrepreneurship through interactive workshops and programs. She also works as a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) dedicated to helping people from all walks of life achieve financial freedom and success.

Updated May 12, 2024​

4 min. read​

Whether you have one, two or several subscriptions, you’re not alone. Subscriptions are more common than ever as they are a convenient way for consumers to access the goods and services needed on a regular basis with little to no effort on their part. But that doesn’t mean you should simply sign up for a subscription and forget about it. Instead, it’s vital to keep tabs on your subscriptions and make adjustments as needed to maximize your dollars.

Keep reading to learn more about best practices when managing subscriptions.

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The Importance of Efficient Subscription Management

Consumers often subscribe to various services that offer convenience, entertainment, or other benefits. However, without proper oversight, these subscriptions can become financial burdens or lead to unnecessary expenses.

The importance of efficient subscription management lies in its ability to help individuals maintain control over their recurring payments, ensuring that they only invest in services that provide ongoing value.

Understanding Different Types of Subscriptions

There are several types of subscriptions to choose from, including:

  • Monthly and annual plans: As the name implies, monthly plans renew monthly, while annual plans are billed once a year, often at a discounted rate.
  • Tiered subscriptions: Basic plans give you access to standard features, or you can opt for a premium plan to access added features for a higher price.
  • Freemium subscriptions: There are two options – free plans that offer limited access without costs and paid plans that grant you full access and come with recurring payments.
  • One-time purchases vs. recurring subscriptions: You’ll pay once for permanent access or make regular payments for ongoing use of the services.

Steps on How to Manage Subscriptions

Below is an overview of tips to help you manage subscriptions.

Identifying All Your Subscriptions

Start by listing every subscription service you are paying for. Check your bank account, credit card statements, and digital storefronts like the App Store or Google Play to ensure you haven’t missed any. This comprehensive list should include everything from streaming services to software licenses.

To make this process easier, consider using tools or apps that track your subscriptions for you. Some financial apps can connect to your bank account and automatically identify recurring charges. You can also manually review your email for subscription confirmations and receipts. Remember to check for subscriptions that may not appear monthly but quarterly or annually, as these can be easily overlooked.

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Evaluating the Utility and Value of Each Subscription

Once you’ve compiled a list, conduct a cost-benefit analysis for each subscription you have. Ask yourself if the additional features of a premium plan are worth the expense or if a basic plan would suffice. Doing so helps you decide which services are worth keeping and which you can do without.

To accurately evaluate the utility of a subscription, track how often you use the service and compare it to its cost. If a service is seldom used or the premium features do not significantly enhance your experience, it may be a candidate for cancellation. Also, look for any overlap in services (such as multiple streaming platforms that offer similar content) and consider eliminating redundancies to save money.

Prioritizing Your Subscriptions

Prioritize your subscriptions by determining which services offer essential features that justify the cost. It’s vital that your current subscriptions meet your needs and work for your budget.

Think about the impact of each subscription on your daily life. Services that you use daily or that contribute significantly to your work or personal development should be ranked higher. On the other hand, subscriptions that are nice-to-haves but not critical can be ranked lower and are potentially expendable if you need to tighten your budget.

Organizing Your Subscriptions

Set calendar reminders for renewal dates and payment method deadlines. Consider using subscription management apps to keep an eye on your subscriptions or spread out the billing dates so they don’t all come due around the same time, impacting your cash flow.

Keeping your subscriptions organized can prevent unwanted renewals and charges. Some apps provide alerts before a subscription renews, giving you time to decide whether to continue or cancel. Ensure you’re using a secure method to track this information, and regularly update the details whenever you update your payment information. This will help you maintain control over your subscriptions and avoid service interruptions or unexpected charges.

Also, consider consolidating your subscriptions where possible. Some services may offer bundles that include multiple subscriptions at a reduced rate. Also, regularly review your subscriptions to see if any services have changed their offerings or if new, more competitive options have become available.

It’s also worth keeping a dedicated folder, either digital or physical, for all your subscription-related documents, including terms of service, contracts and any communication regarding changes to your subscription plans.

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Other Things You Should Consider When Managing Subscriptions

Beyond the strategies mentioned above, here are some added tips that could simplify the subscription management process.

Reviewing Terms and Conditions

Carefully read the terms and conditions of each subscription service. Pay particular attention to cancellation policies and renewal terms to avoid unwanted charges on your account.

Keeping Track and Making the Most Out of Free Trials

Document the start and end dates of free trials to ensure you cancel them on time if you decide the service is not for you. Doing so prevents automatic upgrades to paid plans, which could derail your budget if it is tight.

Setting Spending Limits

Establish a monthly budget for your subscriptions and regularly review your expenses to ensure you stay within this limit. If you find that you have more subscription-related expenses than your budget permits, it’s time to make cuts.

Looking Out for Price Increases

Stay vigilant for announcements or notifications about price changes in your subscriptions. Services may increase their cost, which could negatively impact your spending plan if you aren’t prepared for the increase.

Consolidating Plans with Friends and Family

Look for opportunities to share plans with friends and family to save money. Many services offer family or group plans that can reduce individual costs and still give you the same access as you previously had.

Using a Single Payment Method

Using one payment method, like a specific credit card, for all subscriptions simplifies tracking and managing your recurring payments. You’ll also find it easier to review charges and spot discrepancies.

Negotiating for Lower Rates/Better Prices

Don’t hesitate to contact customer service to negotiate better rates. Mentioning competitors’ offerings and your customer loyalty can be influential in securing a reduced plan cost.

You can also use Experian BillFixer™, a service that negotiates your current subscription rates on your behalf to help you save money. Visit Experian’s website to learn more about this service and other offerings that are available to you.

When you provide your account details, the negotiation team takes over to argue for better rates on your behalf. This can include cable, internet or even gym memberships.

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Trying an App that Tracks Subscriptions

In the age of smartphones, leveraging an app to track your subscriptions is a smart and accessible option.

Most categorize your expenses and identify recurring charges, alerting you to subscriptions you might have forgotten. These apps help you clearly understand your regular outgoings, making it easier to cancel unwanted services and avoid overspending.

Conclusion: Managing Your Subscriptions Effectively

Keeping track of your subscriptions doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Consider using tools designed for subscription management to automate this process. They can help you quickly unsubscribe from unwanted services, preventing unnecessary charges and keeping your subscriptions streamlined. Also, consider Experian BillFixer™ if you need a helping hand.

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