Keeping Track of Subscriptions

America is a wired, “app-happy” nation. Most consumers have multiple subscriptions for everything from phone apps to online gaming communities. These subscription services make life easier and more enjoyable.

However, it is easy to lose track of how many you have. The cost of using them can quickly mount because of renewals. You may have subscriptions to services you have not used in months or even years and not even realized it. Fortunately, the right strategies for keeping track of subscriptions can help you make sense of what you have and how much you are paying for them. It can also help you determine which ones you may want to get rid of.

As far as purchases go, subscription services are unique because they do not end until you take action to stop them. With subscriptions, payments are usually charge automatically. Once you have signed up, you keep paying every month or every year until you take active steps to stop it. After a while, many people forget about the subscriptions they have and let the charges continue simply because it is easier or they have forgotten they even have the service. This can account for hundreds of lost dollars out of your wallet each year. Read on to learn how to start tracking your subscriptions quickly and efficiently.

Using a Spreadsheet

The simplest and most direct way to keep track of all your subscriptions is to create a spreadsheet using a computer program or online application. While this is seen as old school, it can be a valuable tool because you have to enter the information yourself each month. This means you have to review your subscriptions each month and you can get a better idea of which ones you are actually using.

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When using a spreadsheet, you are clearly reminded of what you are spending on each one each month. The downside is that if you do not remember some of the recurring subscriptions you have, they will not end up on your spreadsheet. You may have to do some digging to determine what subscriptions you currently have.

What are your current subscriptions?

To find out what subscriptions you currently have, you need to do some investigating. Check each of these to make sure you are accounting for all possible subscriptions you are signed up and paying for:

  • App stores like the iOS app store or the Google play store. You can find most of these under the settings in your mobile device. Also, be sure check your Amazon account for subscriptions like Kindle Unlimited.
  • Review online payments on sites like PayPal. You can look for any recurring payments on your account. You may be surprised to find overlapping subscriptions, such as two different services for computer backup or ID monitoring. Cancel any duplicate or unnecessary recurring payments from these services and companies.
  • Track subscriptions from delivery services. These include meal programs, diet and exercise programs, gift subscriptions and information services you rarely use. Review your bank statements and credit card statements going back several months to see if there are recurring debits or charges.
  • Do an email search for key phrases. These include phrases like “limited time,” “free trial,” “subscription” or “automatic payment.” You may find emails referring to services you forgot you even signed up for. It is so easy to sign up for a “free trial,” then forget to cancel it within the 30-day trial period.

Use Tracking Software

Once you have a pretty good idea of what subscriptions you are paying for and which ones you want to keep, choose tracking software or a tracking app that monitors all your subscriptions for you. There are dozens of options, but there are several that are effective and easy to use.

Trim

This service operates online and via text and gives you a clear picture of your subscriptions once you let it access your bank account and credit cards. It is simple and easy to use for a basic check-up of your subscription. Encryption helps keeps your information safe.

Trim provides mobile access allowing you to receive text messages alerting you to paycheck deposits, overdrafts, late fees and other unexpected transactions. This moves it a bit beyond a simple subscription tracker if you want it to do more.

Bobby

Bobby is an iOS app that lets you track a limited number of subscriptions (currently four) for no charge, and charges 99 cents per month to add unlimited subscriptions. You have to add each of your subscriptions yourself, but Bobby has a search feature and impressive list of the most popular subscriptions, making it easy to find yours.

Truebill for Android and iOS

You can connect this simple app service to your bank account and credit cards to see a basic list of all your subscriptions and any recurring payments. It tracks rate changes. This is helpful if your streaming service keeps increasing prices. For extra safety, Truebill uses Plaid API, so your bank account and credit information are not stored.

The app scans and sort your accounts for recurring transactions, using three categories: utilities and bills, subscriptions and other recurring payments. There is an option to move items from one category to another or remove an item if you like.

SubscriptMe

Another downloadable app, SubscriptMe keeps track of your subscriptions and allows you to check out ratings of various apps and subscriptions by other users. If you tend to sign up for a lot of subscriptions you later regret, SubscriptMe can help you avoid these purchases. If the subscription is on your phone, the system automatically detects it. Simply swipe left on each one you want to monitor.

Keep Payments Simple in the Future

In the future, try to pay for all subscriptions with one form of payment, whether it is a PayPal account or a credit card dedicated solely to subscription payments. This makes it much easier to track your subscriptions. This also allows you to see just how much money you are actually spending on the entire collection of subscriptions. It may be more than you think.

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