Great Advice for Grads 2020

SUBSCRIPTION AUDIT Job No. 1 is to identify recurring charges. Scan recent payment statements, including credit cards, debit cards or online accounts, like PayPal. Go back 12 months to catch auto-renew annual subscriptions. Don’t ignore the analog world: lawn mowing, home security monitoring, pest-control service and memberships in social and professional organizations. Some credit card issuers, like Citi, identify recurring charges in your online account.

MULTIPLY BY 12 A frog in a stovetop pot of water will complacently boil to death if you raise the temperature slowly, the saying goes. Accumulating monthly subscriptions is similar. To feel the full impact, multiply monthly charges by 12 to get an annualized idea of what you’re spending. If you see yourself keeping the subscription five years, do that math too. Then, a seemingly insignificant $30-per-month expense becomes $1,800. “On the surface, subscription costs may seem minimal, but when you add them up it can really pinch your monthly budget,” says Paul Golden, spokesman for the National Endowment for Financial Education. “If you’re putting subscriptions on your credit card, is that hindering your ability to pay off your balance each month? If so, this is a red flag.”

On the surface, subscription costs may seem minimal, but when you add them up it can really pinch your monthly budget.


Do you use and value the subscription? A gym membership is perhaps the best example of a noble subscription gone wrong — when you quit going but continue paying. Ask yourself if a subscription saves you money or time. Has it lived up to its promise? Does a delivered subscription box bring you joy or guilt? “It’s a good idea to do a subscription evaluation on a regular basis — perhaps a couple of times a year,” Golden says. IS IT REDUNDANT? If you have cable or satellite TV, plus Netflix, YouTube TV and Amazon Prime Video, you have overlap. “There are so many redundancies across those platforms that you’re more or less paying for the same service over and over again,” McClary says. The same assessment goes for streaming music services, cloud storage and phone services. Are you hanging on to a landline for no reason?



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