Its Time to Audit Your Autopay Subscriptions

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Illustration for article titled Its Time to Audit Your Autopay Subscriptions

Photo: Manuel Esteban (Shutterstock)

How many subscription services do you pay for? A study by the tech consulting firm West Monroe found that the average American spends $237 a month on autopay subscriptions, or $2,844 for the year, and most of them underestimate what they think they owe. If you’re not sure what you’re spending, it’s time to audit your subscriptions.

Separate perception from reality 

There’s a reason why auto-renewal subscription payments are referred to as “evergreen.” At the end of either a monthly or annual subscription term, these services renew automatically unless you choose to cancel. Of course, this is why they’re so hard to track. If you stop using the service, you tend to forget the service exists and not notice the charges adding up. As an example, 84% of respondents in the West Monroe survey underestimated their subscription expenses, with 51% getting it wrong by $100 or more.

That seems crazy until you think about the proliferation of subscription services in recent years, across all sorts of categories: food boxes, gaming, fitness apps, media, dating apps, cloud storage… the list goes on. With TV and movie subscriptions alone, who can keep track? As an example, try scrolling to the end of this Flixed post listing all known streaming services available in the US.

Throw in free trials, too. You may have planned to cancel a trial before it expired (say, Disney+ once you finished The Mandalorian), but you forgot that, too. Don’t forget about the increases to your existing subscription prices that you likely missed, as well—it all adds up.

How to audit your subscriptions

The first step is to identify recurring charges in your credit card, debit card, or online banking accounts. Set aside an hour to list all of your monthly and annual subscription expenses for the past year. Don’t recognize a few of them? Or maybe there’s a service you like but rarely use? Go ahead and cancel those. Create a calendar reminder for yourself to do this every month or so if you really want to stay on top of it.

Another quick option is to check your iPhone settings for unwanted apps you might be paying for as well. And there are dedicated subscription tracking services found on apps, too, like TrueBill, Bobby, Subscro and others. These apps connect to your bank accounts and automatically identify your subscription services, which you can then track on a custom dashboard. But remember that many of these apps are tiered and additional services might charge you a monthly fee, which makes them… yet another autopay subscription service.

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