Spend carefully

How to thrive with fewer subscriptions

A little housekeeping could help you clean up on the savings front when it comes to those subscriptions you hardly use.

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The cost of convenience can add up

Can you imagine a world where you can’t whistle up your favourite movie at the touch of a button?

For many, subscription services are embedded in our regular spending. Our monthly direct debits have brought us music, movies, fitness and wellness motivation, fresh fruit and veg, and even a dose of mindfulness – right to our screens and doors.

But not every automatically billed app or service is worth the cash. Hidden among the must-haves may be a bunch of non-essential or forgotten subscriptions that your bank account could do without.

Making some quick decisions about what stays and what goes is an important, and relatively easy step, towards improving your financial wellbeing. Here are some hot tips to get started.

How to begin – find the forgotten ones

Before you even start weighing up your priorities, there may be some lurking subscriptions that you’ve entirely forgotten about. The authors of Popular Science call this the ‘app-byss’ and it’s a good place to begin.

Check your bank statement for recurring debits that don’t look familiar, and see if you can suspend or cancel any recurring bills for apps that you’re not using. 

To dig a little deeper, scroll through your apps and subscriptions to see what’s automatically charged to your account. As a last resort, search your email inbox for free trials that are ending (or have already ended), or ‘upcoming orders’ that you might have forgotten about.

Keep or cut

Once you know where your money is going, it’s time to decide if it's worth it. This isn’t about saying no to everything, it’s assessing if you’re getting your money’s worth.

Wellness apps and fitness memberships

If you actually use your membership to the local gym or Pilates studio regularly, or your meditation app keeps you healthy and happy, then great. But if you’re paying for services that you’ve never even finished setting up your profile for, it’s time to let it go or switch to the free versions where possible.

TV, music and movies

We’ve quickly gone from free-to-air to an abundance of streaming services – all are useful on their own, but all at once might be a bit too much. Pick your favourites and relish in the joy of less choice stress. Or, consider a group subscription with your housemates – this often bring down your individual cost.

Food and meal kits

Recent years have seen subscription meal services taking over our nightly cooking routines, and they can make home cooking fun and convenient. Do your homework – check whether a supermarket and grocery store may still provide you better value. 

If you can’t give your subscription up completely, consider staggering your orders to fortnightly instead of weekly and heading to your local grocer for the rest. Keep an eye out for special offers or referral bonuses if you want to stay on the subscription schedule.

Everything else

You may have heard the saying ‘if you haven’t used it in six months, you don’t need it’. When it comes to games, photo editing software apps, magazines, cloud storage and those browser plugins that you never use, less is more – less brings you real value.

Switch to free versions

If the sacrifice is just too great, a quick search may find you a cheaper or even free alternative to the service you’re using, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out.

Steps to financial wellbeing

Our financial wellbeing programme can help. Try one step or two, or work through the programme's six steps in any order.

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Important information

This material is for information purposes only. Please talk to us if you need financial advice about your situation and goals or about our products and services. See our financial advice provider disclosure (PDF 39.9KB).

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