Monthly Subscriptions – Love to Hate Them

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A milk subscription? Yes please!

When we first got married and started combining finances, most of our habits and money management lined up. It was great. Except for one thing. Or – more correctly – a lot of little things. Automatic renewal of subscriptions.

As a general rule, I hate subscriptions. Paying for them feels like a dripping faucet that you can’t quite get to shut off.

Mr. PoP on the other hand is usually pretty happy with subscription payments. He likes the convenience of them and of not forgetting to renew or send in payment. It’s easy and he doesn’t mind paying for things that he uses.

Needless to say, combining these two habits has forced us to compromise on more than a few occasions.

 

Auto-Renews That We Cancelled Happily

Auto Insurance – Mr. PoP was being billed monthly for his auto insurance instead of paying 6 months at a time and getting a 5% discount. As soon as I showed him this was an easy option and was an easy 5% ROI in 6 months, he was on board. Especially since I remembered to pay the bill.

Credit Monitoring Service – Before we got married, Mr. PoP had subscribed to $13/month credit monitoring services from FreeCreditReport.com.  It didn’t do a whole lot – and definitely didn’t do anything to alert us of the phantom Costco Amex card in his name! – so this was one of the first things that got cancelled.

Web Hosting – Prior to this blog, Mr. PoP messed around with a few different websites, and we were getting dinged for $8 or $10/month for hosting every month. Not worth it for the amount that he was using them and the traffic that they were generating. For this blog, we prepaid for a couple of years of hosting in advance. That means we’re planning on sticking around here, readers!

 

Auto-Renews That We Kept Or Started Happily

Gym Memberships – My old gym let you buy 3 month passes, which I did. But I didn’t use it as much as I should have, and when they expired I let myself wait 4 or 6 weeks before buying a new 3 month pass. And I was exercising less in the meantime because of it. Having our gym on auto-renewal is a constant reminder to get as much value out of it as we can, and stay fit and healthy. (Gympact is also a great reminder!)

Entertainment & Media – It’s Hulu right now, but we had Netflix in the past. I go back and forth as to whether we should cancel these, but for now the $8 on Hulu every month is entertainment well spent. Especially now that we’re being better about sharing bandwidth.

Pool Service – This one was a tough pill to swallow. We tried to maintain our pool ourselves for almost 3 years, but found out it was cheaper to hire a pool guy than to keep doing it ourselves.

Angie’s List – This one is a yearly renewal for about $20 and so far there has yet to be a year where our Angie’s List subscription doesn’t save us at least that much money.

 

Auto-Renewals That Remain Contentious

Domain Names – Mr. PoP has purchased the domain name for our last name (it’s a .com!), but we don’t do anything with it. Every year goDaddy sucks $40 or $50 from us to renew the domain, just so Mr. PoP has the ability to some day give us email addresses Mr@PoP.com and Mrs@PoP.com – or you know – the equivalent using our real names. I think this is absolutely silly, but owning it seems to be really important to Mr. PoP, so I’ve given up arguing about it every year.

 

Basically we’re at the point where most of the subscriptions we have are ones that we feel that we get a better value by subscribing (like the pool or Angie’s List) or ones that we feel like we use more because we pay for it monthly (like the gym!).

 

Where do you stand on monthly subscriptions? Do you love the ease of not having to remember and eliminating the possibility of a late payment? Or do you abhor the idea that a business reaches in and grabs money from you every month without you having to even think about it?

49 comments to Monthly Subscriptions – Love to Hate Them

  • We definitely do netflix monthly, and I love it. We watch an hour of netflix most days (we pick one old show at a time and watch through it). I also have my monthly NPR subscription on auto-pilot because it is simpler for me to pay $15 a month than to stress about a lump-sum every year, and I listen to NPR enough to warrant that value in my bottom line.

    Other than that, I don’t think we have anything monthly, but your post is a good call to go look. I used to have my electric bill taken out monthly, but utilities are included in our housing now (good because the electric company would wait until the last day to bill and then give me a late fee if something went wrong on their end, and I couldn’t change the bill date to earlier). In general, I like auto-billing as long as it’s something I’m still using. But I am really careful about when I sign up for auto-bill, as I don’t want to get stuck paying for something I don’t use.
    Leah recently posted..Snow DayMy Profile

    • We like to donate to NPR during the fund drives rather than putting it on auto-pilot. I think it makes us revisit how much we value it and pay accordingly. FWIW, we’ve never decreased our donation – so I think that speaks to how awesome the quality of NPR programming continues to be in our minds! =)

  • I have mixed feelings on auto-renewals. On one hand, I like the convenience, but on the other hand, the control freak in me hates that people come and take my money automatically without me personally clicking the “schedule payment” button. :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..Back to BasicsMy Profile

  • I’m not a fan of monthly prescriptions, I’d rather just save up money and pay for a year in advance! However, if it is my first time using the product or a service, I go with monthly just in case I end up not liking it and want to cancel more easily.
    Michelle recently posted..How to Transition Back into the Workforce After a Long Period of UnemploymentMy Profile

    • Yeah, that’s where we are with the pool. We could get a small discount if we paid for a year in advance, but we’re still making sure we like the quality of the service since there have been a couple months where they didn’t do the best job.

  • I typically run from monthly subscriptions like the plague, but Netflix is one where I feel like I’m getting good value. Electric and gas are pretty convenient and I know I have to pay for them anyway, so they don’t bother me.
    Good to hear you’ll be around for many years!
    CashRebel recently posted..Making The Switch To My Employer’s Smart Phone To Save $40/moMy Profile

  • Outside of my gym membership and my domain hosting, I don’t have any auto-renews. If I find something that I think is really worth auto-renewing, I’ll happily pay for it. I just haven’t found any that have withstood the test of time.

    I’m with you on paying for car insurance and web hosting in as large of blocks as possible in order to save some money.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..A Brief Primer on Dividend Growth Stocks Part 2: Basic stock screeningMy Profile

  • Next Tuesday is already slated to be our “cancel frivolous subscriptions” day (it’s like your favorite five holidays rolled into one, without the fun stuff that happens on those other days). We’re sitting down and attacking some of the silliness that hits our budget. Targets: I used to drive a TON so XM radio was a lifesaver….gone. We were weightwatchers members for a while, but aren’t using that….gone. Contentious….the alarm. We live in a safe neighborhood, so I’d like to “localize” the alarm and get rid of the monitoring service.
    AverageJoe recently posted..Another Day At The OfficeMy Profile

    • It’s better than your favorite 5 holidays rolled into one since instead of costing you money (presents, etc), you’re going to be giving yourselves a nice annuity in the form of savings on all of those subscriptions. =)

  • We don’t really have any monthly such scriptions set up on autopay. Instead we pay the bill every month manually so we can look it over, make sure it is right and cancel if we no longer use it.
    Lance @ Money Life and More recently posted..Is Paying Down Debt An All Or Nothing Mentality? No Thanks!My Profile

    • I like that method, but have found that some don’t let you do that. I don’t remember having the option for not having auto-pay on Hulu, and other media providers tend to be the same way. It bugs me, but if you don’t have a choice – what can you do?

  • I automate donations and other ongoing permanent expenses like Internet, cell, and utilities. For everything else, I tend to pay as I go to make it easier if I want to cancel the service. I also fear that if I automate, my laziness will get the best of me, and I just keep on paying the bill forever even if it’s no longer warranted!
    My Shiny Pennies recently posted..Budget: Where Does My Money GoMy Profile

    • I think that’s a pretty good compromise. I don’t have electricity or water automated because I want to be reminded how much we used each month and feel the “pain” if we overused.

  • We have a few monthly subscriptions still- high speed internet at $35 per month, Hulu at $7.99 per month, and netflix at $7.99 per month. Other than that, we don’t have any left. I also pay my car insurance every six months~!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..I Hate Walmart: My High Cost To Get Low PricesMy Profile

  • I love the idea of not having to remember a payment, but we are pretty strict about keeping our expenses as low as possible so the only automatic payments we have is our internet and car insurance.
    Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom recently posted..Take A Trip to ReconnectMy Profile

  • I hate subscriptions that renew themselves. And I really hate the free trials that turn into subscriptions if you forget to cancel them. That happened to us with Amazon Prime, but thankfully it’s a pretty awesome service.

    I think you guys are getting screwed. I paid $17 for 3 years for my domain name from GoDaddy.

    And.. Angie’s List is good? I’ve never heard reviews either way, so that’s good to hear.
    Johnny Moneyseed recently posted..Ten days of nothing but juiceMy Profile

    • Hmmm… maybe I’m going to have to go back and look at the GoDaddy charges. Hopefully we’re not getting screwed!

      We’ve found Angie’s List to be a great value. It simplifies the process of finding GOOD service providers and we’re starting to accumulate a list of “the best” in our area. Maybe once that list is full then we’ll cancel, but for now it’s been an amazing value.

  • I love the ease of monthly subscriptions but there are quite a few of them I should get around to using or cancelling. I barely ever watch netflix and haven’t been to the gym in months, yet each month those subscription fees are being sucked out of my account.
    The First Million is the Hardest recently posted..What To Do With A Pay RaiseMy Profile

    • Maybe you need a “cancel subscriptions day” like Joe! I’m a big supporter of the gym, but it doesn’t make sense to pay if you’re not using it =)

  • Karen Anne

    I have a yearly subscription on automatic for maxemail.com, $14.85 a year and 5 cents per page inbound, 10 cents per page outbound. I just checked and wonder if I am grandfathered in because the annual fee now on the web site seems to be $24.

    They handle the per page stuff by autocharging $10 to fill a pot.

    Not having to have a fax machine: priceless.

  • spiffi

    I hate monthly subscriptions, and *despise* automatic payments.

    When I bought my Tivo, going on 10 years ago now, I think, I paid upfront about $350 for the DVR and the lifetime subscription – and I’m going to keep it running as long as I possibly can, because to replace it will be crazy expensive.

    My cable/internet/phone bill, electricity/gas, HOA and mortgage could all be automatic payments, but I can’t make myself do it. Probably because for a few years my paycheques were spotty, and I was never sure when I would be getting paid, so even though I’ve had nearly 10 years of on time paycheques, I’m still reluctant to sign up :)

    And yes, you’re getting screwed on domain renewals if you’re paying that much. $15 per year is about right.

    • Just found out that it’s apparently a bunch of them, .com, .net, .org, etc. Hopefully that makes more sense – at least price wise… It’s still weird to me that we buy them, but Mr. PoP really wants them, so that’s how it goes!

  • In general, I LOVE monthly subscriptions. We use them for things like our fitness classes (CrossFit for him, PureBarre for me), our newspaper subscription, and a parking pass at the train station. By signing up for monthly subscriptions, we’re trying to force ourselves into good habits. Like you’ve said, the fitness memberships are a good motivation to fit in as many classes/sessions as we can. As far as commuting goes, I could drive to work, but I knows it’s better — for my wallet and the environment — if I take public transportation. If I buy a monthly parking pass at the train station, I feel compelled to take the train at least enough times to make the parking pass worthwhile.
    JW_Umbrella Treasury recently posted..Frugal Foods: Almond MacaroonsMy Profile

    • Ooh, I like the parking pass for the train station. If we had something like that it would definitely be an incentive to force myself into that good habit!

  • Thanks for the reminder that I need to cancel my Angie’s list subscription (auto renews after a year). In general I’m not a fan of the subscriptions, but we do have a few yearly ones, Fresh direct delivery pass and blue host webhosting. I’ve thought about registering mylastname.com, just in case someday I need/want it, so Mr. Pops isn’t the only one 😉
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..I’m Not Cheap, You’re Broke!My Profile

    • Yup – Angie’s list will email you before it auto-renews to give you a heads up. I know Mr. PoP isn’t the only one that wants to buy [PoP].com – rumor has it a PoP brother would try and pick it up if we ever didn’t renew… =)

  • I have serious commitment issues with these kinds of things. I neraly broke out in hives when T finally moved from prepay to a monthly phone plan (minimum 12 month contract). We do have pay TV but that’s now past the contract and so all of our bills can be cancelled or moved to another provider at anytime.
    eemusings recently posted..Paycheque frequency: what’s your preference?My Profile

    • Haha, so will T’s phone contract expire before your epic trip? I presume you’re not going to want to pay roaming charges from another continent…

  • Oh, and aside from rent, I have ZERO autopayments – I’m a control freak and pay everything manually, albeit through online banking or credit card. Insurance still has to be paid over the phone – wish my company would get with the times already.
    eemusings recently posted..Paycheque frequency: what’s your preference?My Profile

    • Now that you mention it, I’m not sure if our insurance company has online payments or not. I always just call and charge it with our insurance agent rather than the company itself.

  • I WISH we could pay our auto insurance premium up front for the 6-month premium period! I don’t know if it’s just our state (our driving records are flawless,) but the rate is so high. And it’s actually pretty low…we shopped around. But still too high to be able to afford that lump sum at once.

    That’s too funny about the name domain!
    femmefrugality recently posted..I love hobbits: A GiveawayMy Profile

    • I’ve heard other people say the same thing about PA – but I always assumed their rates were high because they were living in the hood in Philly. =)

  • I really hate monthly subscriptions. It feels like someone is sneakily reaching into my pocket! That said, we do have Netflix. We watch a series and get hooked on it until we finish it. Lots better than regular tv!
    Maggie@SquarePennies recently posted..Easy Easter Recipes that ImpressMy Profile

    • Totally agree with the feeling that someone is reaching into your pocket with an auto payment. I know I technically invited them to do so, but it still feels a little intrusive…

  • It is a good thing my partner and I have not been too much in an issue about subscriptions. We definitely almost have the same mind about what we should and should not subscribe.
    Alexis Marlons recently posted..How to Run a Successful NightclubMy Profile

    • Being on the same page definitely always makes things easier. Sometimes, though, it’s nice when Mr. PoP and I challenge each other about little stuff so we can sanity check our default decisions and make sure they’re in line with what we want.

  • I´ve had a monthly subscription to a gym for the last year, but I just don`t have time enough to go there, considering I have to go on the subway for 30 minutes each way, 1 hour of exercising, often takes 2 1/2 hour combined with transportation. So I`m thinking of cutting it out, and try to work out at home combined with using the forrest that`s right outside my house.
    The Norwegian Girl recently posted..Yearning for Spring & Saturday LinkMy Profile

    • Oooh, the forest sounds amazing. I love exercising in nature when the weather cooperates. I definitely understand about the gym that’s far away, too. We used to both be members at a gym that’s about 30 minutes from our house, but we cancelled Mr. PoP’s membership since he was never getting there. (I kept mine and go religiously every Saturday for yoga – but like you it takes a good 2-3 hours out of my day to go to a 1.5 hr yoga class!) We signed up for a gym that’s right near our house and while it’s not the best, location definitely trumps everything else in this case.

  • CF

    I generally hate subscriptions as well. However, I also own a few domains that I haven’t done anything with. One is MY name and another is the name I use on social media when I am doing freelancing. I had plans for both of them, but… never made time to do anything with them.

    One subscription I am thinking of adding is $5 a month for Rdio music streaming. I love listening to music while I work and I like the Rdio interface and user friendly design.
    CF recently posted..Updates: March 17 – 23My Profile

    • I’ve heard good things about Rdio but haven’t really explored it. Does your employer let you stream music at work? It’s technically against out technology code of conduct, so I don’t do it though I know some do.

  • […] like your local gym often always require you to sign on for auto-pay, which often turns into an automatic renewal if you’re not paying […]