With Inflation starting to severely impact on the cost of living, now is the time to look for savings. One obvious place to start is all those monthly subscriptions you have signed up for over the years. It may be that you are paying for services that you never use, or you need to trim your budget to accommodate the increasing cost of living.
Never-Ending Payments is listed as the second item in the list of Top 10 Most Common Financial Mistakes.
Choice has written a very informative article called Subscription Traps catching out Consumers Online. It appears that it is quite common to offer a free subscription period, that automatically rolls on to a monthly or annual subscription after the free period. It can be quite difficult to cancel that subscription, so if you must provide your credit card details to gain access to a limited free period, exercise extreme caution. At least make sure you cancel before the first paid subscription is due.
However, in my research, I found that this does not always help. If you are unable to cancel, then I would suggest you contact your credit card and dispute the payment. Make sure you keep a record of your cancellation of the service.
According to consumer advocate Kate Bower:
Dark patterns are design features that are built into a website or app to influence us and cause harm”
Consumer Policy Research Centre wrote the article Duped by Design – Manipulative Online Design: Dark Patterns in Australia, in 2022. This is an international problem and governments are being asked to toughen consumer laws to protect people from these companies that either make it very difficult to unsubscribe or use marketing tools to keep you paying for services you no longer require.
The end of the year is the perfect time to take stock of all your payments.
I would suggest you create an Excel workbook, and list all your monthly payments together with the amount. Review each payment and consider how often you use the service and whether is it a service you need to continue.
One common service, people tend to drop out of is gym memberships. They start very enthusiastic and then slowly reduce how often they use it, but keep paying the fees. The gym is a great way to keep fit – in an air-conditioned environment and a place to meet people. If you have got into this habit of not attending the gym and want to continue to keep fit, set yourself an appointment time and make sure you attend at that time – no excuses.
If you are in a situation where you can’t afford gym fees, look around your neighborhood for a public park that provides a good set of outdoor gym appliances. When you take a walk include a stop off to do a set of weight-bearing exercises on the way. This will keep you healthy and save you a lot of money.
For services that you have determined you want to keep, consider converting to an annual payment, as this is usually cheaper, and you don’t have monthly transaction fees.
Glenis Phillips SF Fin
Designer of Financial Mappers and Advice Online