How to thrive with fewer subscriptions

3-4 minute read

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

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

For many, living without our favourite subscription services is now almost incomprehensible. Our monthly direct debits have brought us music, movies, endless fitness and wellness motivation, fresh fruit and veg, and even a good old 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 and frankly forgotten subscriptions that your bank account could do without.

Assessing your apps and 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 Science¹ call this the ‘app-byss’ and it’s a good place to begin.

Audit 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, sign into your app store and scroll through your current subscriptions to see what apps are automatically being 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.

How to identify needs versus wants

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

Wellness apps and fitness memberships: If you’re actually using your membership to the local gym or Pilates studio regularly, or your meditation app is keeping you healthy and happy, then great! But, if you’re paying for five other similar 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 pooling in with your friends or family for a group subscription – often bring down your individual cost.

Food: 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 them up completely, consider staggering your food box 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 it brings you real value.

A parting thought

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.

Find more ways to plan your spend in the ANZ Financial Wellbeing programme.

Important information

This material is for information purposes only. We recommend seeking financial advice about your situation and goals before getting a financial product. To talk to one of our team at ANZ, please call 0800 269 296, or for more information about ANZ’s financial advice service or to view our financial advice provider disclosure statement see

  1. Popular Science: How to manage subscriptions for smartphone apps and save money quickly, April 2021