In this day and age, automation is KING. That much we know is true - having less worry about tracking expenses on bills and other constant reoccurring charges is a life saver. No more having to send in electric bill payments with a hand-written check through the mail, or physically buying membership cards with redemption codes. It's amazing how far technology has come really.
In addition to that, we are experiencing the rise in streaming services. It all started with Netflix and Hulu, and now we're introduced to HBO Max, Paramount Plus, even cable box-replacer services like Sling and Pluto TV. A buffet of different streaming services, all "within reasonable prices," seems too good to be true when comparing them to a standard cable bill. Some are $8.99, some are $11.99, heck some are $5! However, it's these slippery subscriptions that have a tendency to be swept so far under the carper of your finances that they begin eating out the flesh of your wallet from the inside out without you even knowing. Ninja-like purchases lurking in your checking accounts, slowly slicing away at your hard-earned money...
Let's think about it. When the original subscription services like Netflix came along, I'm certain most of us jumped on that wagon. If you're an avid gamer like I was at that time, you probably had an Xbox Live or Playstation online membership as well. Not to mention being in college at the time forced me to spend another small chunk of change for a Chegg membership for those hard-to-solve electrical engineering problems. Fast-forward five years later, the game has completely evolved for these subscriptions, and I found myself with transactions from Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime - a real subscription frenzy. The thing is, when I enrolled in these newer subscriptions, without realizing, I kept the other ones alive. Even when the overlap between most of these services was so wide that I didn’t even need one if I had the other, I still kept it. Unknowingly.
What initially was a small (manageable) $20/month, ended up being nearly $100/month! You can imagine my surprise in finding this out, years later. Calculating everything, I believe I could have saved a little over $3,000 over those years, all because I lost track of what was automatically being withdrawn from my accounts from these subscriptions I had completely forgotten about. All of this money could have been potentially used for a buffer in my emergency fund, or even better, be used a younger age to begin investing in some long-term stocks to build wealth. Years plus compounded interest and today I might have been a little more comfortable with my finances. Wow.
Moral of the story - Keep these sneaky subscriptions in control. Do a periodic sanity check to see what you currently have, and do some trimming to close the ones you don't normally use. And no, once every couple months does NOT count as a frequent use. Remove it. Once you do that, you won't have to worry about bleeding out your wallet in the long run.