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The rise of subscriptions could be squeezing your digital wallet

Subscriptions are like paper cuts. If you get too many of them, they can harm your financial and physical well-being. The nastiest part is they’re so darn small, they often go undetected for quite some time.



In the past five years, the subscription e-commerce market in the U.S. has grown by 100 per cent per year with over 15 per cent of online shoppers now receiving products delivered to their door on a recurring (often monthly) basis, such as Blue Apron or Dollar Shave Club. In its in-depth 2018 study, McKinsey & Company also found that nearly 50 per cent of individuals they polled were subscribed to a streaming service like Netflix. It’s safe to say that Canadian e-commerce has followed a similar trajectory.


The traditional subscription market, predominately to gyms and fitness clubs, is also steadily growing, with mid-range gym membership in Canada costing an average of $40-60 per month.


When you add these subscriptions all together, it can equate to hundreds of dollars per month. Here are my tips to save on subscriptions.


Set it, but don’t forget it

Have you taken an inventory of all of your subscriptions? A great way to do this is to review your credit card and bank statements monthly (personally, I make this a part of my regular monthly budgeting process). Subscriptions show up as a recurring payment, and because the amounts can look really small, they’re easy to glaze over. So, take your time and really examine those statements. This is exactly how I found out about my forgotten Amazon Prime subscription. I’d signed up for a free trial, which then lapsed into the full paid version, which I wasn’t using.


Love what you subscribe to

Do you love, and use, the products and services? If you don’t, cut them out of your budget.


For example, one of my gal pals is big into fitness classes and she hates doing the same class twice in a week. So, she subscribed to multiple online fitness classes she could do right from her living room. The problem, however, was that to get the variety she wanted, she was spending too much money on multiple subscriptions. She then cancelled the online subscriptions, researched fitness centres near her work, and joined a gym where they offered the variety of classes she enjoys: yoga, bootcamps, HIIT, body pump, sprints, zumba and more. This decision saved her money.


Subscribe only when there are sales

Why pay full price when most subscriptions will go on sale at least twice per year? One of those times is in November during Black Friday/Cyber Monday (this is the same weekend) and the other time is in December during Boxing Week. Pay attention to cancellation or activation fees, which can erode savings.


Subscriptions do make life easier. Groceries show up automatically, razors get replaced frequently, you can work out when and how you want, and so on. But don’t forget that convenience costs. So, compare prices with competitors to ensure you’re getting the greatest value for your subscription dollars.