Subscription services have become a popular way to access products and content – but managing your spending is key. We explore savvy ways to boost your budget.
Do an audit of what subscription services you currently have
Many different forms of subscription services are available these days – from digital accounts, to monthly delivery services, or even memberships to exclusive clubs or events. To begin the process of saving money on your subscriptions, it’s worthwhile to audit and consider exactly what it is you pay for every month.
Examine your digital subscriptions
Digital subscriptions have become popular in recent years – ranging from video streaming networks, music streaming services, to paid online workspaces or networks. It can be easy to rapidly sign up to many services or accounts that might be of interest, but keeping a detailed list of what platforms you access – and what you use them for – can help you reduce your expenses and ensure that you’re receiving value for money.
Consider whether subscription boxes offer you value for money
Package deliveries or ‘subscription boxes’ such as meal kits, hobby packs or other monthly services might be enticing, but may vary in the value they will provide month-to-month.
If you don’t find you are getting maximum enjoyment or use out of your monthly deliveries, it’s worthwhile to either pause or cancel these subscriptions to see whether you might be able to find a better deal or value elsewhere.
Renew or cancel your memberships
Memberships – such as for your local gym, club, or for magazines or other content – are a great way to keep fit or stay in touch with your interests. However, it is always prudent to ensure that you are both getting the most benefit from your memberships, and that you are using them to your fullest advantage.
Reviewing whether you truly need your present gym membership, cancelling an unused magazine or newspaper subscription, or otherwise investigating what memberships you presently have open can help reduce your monthly expenses.
Investigate your mobile bill for Value-Added Services you don’t need
If you pay for your mobile phone or data bundle on a contract, you might be paying for value-added services offered by your network that you don’t actually use or need.
Checking your monthly statement can help you review whether you are opted in to any of these services or packages – and terminating them may help you reduce the price of your monthly contract.
Where applicable and permissible, share accounts
Some online services enable users to either create joint accounts and contribute towards their subscription costs, or enable one user to create a paid account and then invite another, non-paying user for free on a different device.
If possible, splitting the expenses or mutually exchanging subscriptions with a loved one or a trusted friend can be a unique way to halve expenses while still accessing valuable services. Before you do so, however, ensure these actions are allowed by the service in question and ensure you lay out the terms of the agreement between yourself and the partner you wish to share an account with.
Consider setting up a stokvel subscription if possible
In South Africa, some services have begun offering stokvel subscriptions – meaning that (depending on the rules of the stokvel) a group of investors can jointly share the costs of a service or pay it rotationally, and then either have group access to that service or rotate ownership through members through an arrangement or lottery system.
This can be a clever way to share the costs of a service with other people, and is especially valuable if you need the service in question infrequently rather than regularly.
Use free trials
Many subscription services offer a free trial to entice you to sign up over a longer period of time; leveraging free trials – or new trial offers if you haven’t yet signed up – is a great way to manage your spend and commitments over a short period of time.
Many online subscriptions may also offer you a free month or subscription period if you are able to successfully request a friend or loved one to trial a service for themselves. This is a great way to see whether you feel a service offers real value for money before you make a final commitment and pay to sign up.
Be sure to cancel trials you don’t plan to use
When you begin a free trial, many services may request you to enter your credit or debit card details and will automatically move your account to a paid plan once your free trial is complete – meaning that if you don’t pay careful attention to the date your trial comes to an end, you may be charged a subscription fee to access the service which is typically not refundable.
If you do not plan on subscribing to a service after trialing it, be sure to visit a relevant settings or account facility and either remove your payment information or cancel your free trial (which would naturally cease at the end of the trial period). This will ensure that you don’t end up paying for a service that you’re unlikely to use or benefit from.
If possible, skip or opt out of unnecessary deliveries or features
Some delivery services that offer subscription packages may enable you to opt out of certain deliveries or features if you don’t feel that they will be of use or value to you. Doing so can help you get maximum use out of your subscription and put your money to smarter use.
Use free services
Many online services offer subscription packages or premium features – but do you really need to pay in to access either more space, abilities, or other add-ons?
Checking whether you may be able to use free services (such as for online storage, video streaming services, or other digital products) can help you save money.
Understand T&Cs so you don’t incur charges
However, when doing so, ensure that you read and evaluate the terms and conditions of those services to ensure that you can use them for the purpose you intend, and that you do not exceed usage limits where you may either be charged to access tools, or lose access to valuable items or work if you do not pay towards a premium account.