Will Elon Musk be the straw that changes monthly service fee payments again?
Probably not, as far too many Americans are pushing money to the middle of the service fee table. One important thing: Musk’s $8-per-month “blue check for the masses” will surely have many takers.
It’s a problem for subscription customers to forget.
In fact, monthly fees are so easy to get and can add up over time, consumers may not even realize they’re paying a lot for Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and the New York Times (among others) monthly subscription fees.
According to a recent survey by market analysis firm C&R Research, a monthly subscription costs US consumers an average of $219 every 30 days. A separate study from Statista shows US adults have an average of 12 monthly subscriptions, with millennials averaging 17 subscriptions on a monthly basis.
As crazy as it is, most Americans don’t realize that they owe a lot of money for their subscriptions. The C&R study noted that survey participants believed they owed only about $86 per month in subscription fees — $133 less than they actually owed for those fees. Plus, with so many subscription fees on consumer auto-pay accounts, 42% of all customers don’t realize they’re being billed for the service.
“If you can’t remember all the monthly service fees you pay without checking your bank statement, you probably have too much,” he said. SuperMoney.com Financial planner Andrew Latham. “Feeling anxious about your monthly service costs is another red flag for consumers who need to start making changes.”
Tackling Too Many Monthly Subscription Fees
There is an old British military quote that says “He who dares, wins. He who sweats, wins. He who plans, wins.”
So that’s it and your fight against aggressively collecting monthly subscription fees. With a strong action plan and disciplined execution, you can stop, if not eliminate, the annoying monthly subscription plan.
Here is a list of tips to do just that.
Know where you stand. To get started, look at your monthly service charges (check your bank statement for best results) and see how much your subscription services cost.
“Then determine which services you absolutely cannot do without and consider paying them on an annual or even bi-annual basis,” Latham told TheStreet. “You can often get huge savings by paying lump sums.”
Start scaling back on services you don’t need or use. Now is the time to start whittling down the herd and canceling subscription services you don’t use or need.
“For example, you really don’t need Netflix in 4K when you don’t have a high-end TV to match,” Latham said. “It is also a good idea to negotiate with the service provider for a lower fee or even share an account with a friend or relative.”
Press the pause button. If you’re not sure whether the monthly service fee is worth the cost, take a break from the service for a month or two. “You may find that you can do well with a free alternative, such as a library card, or an account with a free streaming service such as Roku Channel or Tubi,” Latham added.
Always keep an eye on costs. It is always a good idea to check services that may have increased in price. “I recently negotiated lower cable and satellite radio prices just by calling customer service and asking for my old rates back after the introductory promotion expired,” said Bankrate senior industry analyst Ted Rossman.
Go the DIY route first. While there are great mobile apps that help manage monthly subscription fees, try running your own subscription line first.
“There are services like Trim and Rocket Money (which absorbed the service formerly known as Truebill),” Rossman told TheStreet. “However, they do charge a fee, so take the do-it-yourself approach if you can.”
“It’s ironic to pay a subscription fee to help lower your subscription costs, but some people find it useful to automate the process and get outside help,” Rossman added.
In the meantime, look for even bigger savings. Once you are in full bore savings mode, go up the ladder and review your monthly payments to really save money.
“Monthly subscription fees can definitely cause cash flow shortages, but it’s not the automatic fees that cause cash flow problems for people, it’s the manual ones,” says Carson Allaria Wealth Management partner Joe Allaria. “Cars, homes, travel, and food purchases are all non-subscription expenses that have made the biggest dents in many of the troubled budgets I’ve seen.”
That’s especially true for Americans who have cash flow problems.
“If you’re in that scenario, get rid of your $500-plus per month car payment, stop booking expensive vacations, and stop eating out,” Allaria says. “It’s easier to shave hundreds or thousands off your monthly budget by making a few big changes than trying to cancel every subscription you have, just to free up a small amount of cash flow at the end of the month.”