Keeping track of our online subscriptions is something we know we should do, but don’t. The following tools will show exactly what you’re subscribed to, how much you’re spending, and prompt you to cancel subscriptions you no longer need.
A year ago, I cancelled all of my unused online subscriptions, and downgraded those I didn’t use enough. Within two hours, I’d saved myself over $1000 throughout the next year.
Last week, I did the same thing, saving another $400 per year. This is all great news, but I could have cancelled many of these subscriptions much earlier than I did. But online subscriptions are the kind of thing that gradually drain cash from your bank account without you noticing. This unnecessary spending can drag on for years before we do anything about it.
To stop this happening again, I started looking for the best ways to manage my online subscriptions. Tools that list those subscriptions, tell me how much they cost, when trial periods are due to end, and even when payments will be taken. You could, of course, write these in a text file, or even create a list of subscriptions in Trello. But if you’re after something with more functionality, my best findings are listed below.
1. PayPal — The Central Hub for Your Subscriptions
It’s likely that many of your monthly subscriptions are paid with PayPal. So why not more? Once you shift as many of your subscriptions over to PayPal as possible, things become a lot easier.
When your card expires, you only need to add the new card once to your PayPal account rather than to each service provider.
You can set up push notifications in the PayPal app (iOS, Android) to alert you when payments are made. And you can easily review and cancel your payments from within your account (by going to the History tab, then selecting Subscriptions).
If you have subscriptions that can’t be paid via PayPal, some of the following tools will hopefully be of use.
2. SubscriptMe (iOS App)
SubscriptMe is a free iPhone app that scans your iPhone and inbox for active subscriptions. It is a subscription tracker and a bill reminder rolled into one.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything similar for Android, so if you know about any similar app do tell us in the comments.
The SubscriptMe scan detected around 80% of my recurring payments. Some of these had a few errors (such as when a payment was due), but these details are easily corrected.
It’s easy to add other subscriptions manually, and the option to turn on push notifications for upcoming payment alerts is a handy feature, too.
Lastly, you’ll also find a spending breakdown in the app that visualizes your spending till date, and all the upcoming payments. This lets you see exactly where the money you’re spending on subscriptions is going each month.
Download: SubscriptMe for iOS (Free)
3. Truebill (Web — US Only)
Truebill is a web-based application (despite the image below, it’s not yet available on mobile) that empowers you to “find, track, and cancel your paid subscriptions with one click”.
The app scans your online statements, including your PayPal statements (secured with 256-bit SSL encryption). It then identifies your subscriptions, such as gym memberships, or a trial you forgot to cancel. These are displayed so you can easily spot price hikes, or unexpected fees.
Each month Truebill sends you a report, showing your current active subscriptions, and highlights any price hikes. If you want to cancel any of these subscriptions, you don’t need to sign in to any accounts or make any calls. Truebill can do this for you. This, of course, depends on your subscriptions. Sometimes Truebill will need to come back to you for some more info in order to cancel a subscription. Or some subscriptions, like your gym, you may need to cancel in person.
4. Trim (Web — US Only)
Trim is a company aiming to be a “personal financial assistant that finds ways for you to save money”. The online app works in a similar way to Truebill (above), only with a less impressive user interface.
After scanning your transaction history, Trim will send you a text listing the subscriptions it finds. If you want to cancel, say, Netflix, just send the reply “Cancel Netflix“. This whole process is done monthly so you can keep on track of those subscriptions.
Most subscriptions can be cancelled for free, but if your request to cancel a subscription will take additional work (such as making a call on your behalf), you will be charged $6.
5. Google Drive
Google Drive has a ton of useful templates to make your life easier. Of those, we’ve highlighted the best money-management templates before. And out of these, a couple are particularly useful for keeping on top of your online subscriptions (if you don’t want to create your own).
The first is the Personal Budget Planner. If all you want to do is manage your subscriptions, just stick to the Quick Budget tab. List all of your subscriptions and their monthly cost in the worksheet. You can even split these into categories (apps, video streaming, etc.) if needed.
Another option is the Monthly Budget Planner. Enter your subscriptions into the “Fixed Expenses” section to keep track of these. If you’d rather use another spreadsheet program like Excel, setting up a similar document will be easy enough.
As long as you keep this spreadsheet up to date, it’ll be a valuable place for you to see an overview of your recurring payments without needing to dig through your online statements, or rely on new apps. An additional tip would be to add recurring events on your calendar so you can see when your account will be charged for each subscription, every time you check your schedule.
6. Mint (and Alternatives)
If you’re after a more comprehensive financial management option, Mint (iOS, Amazon, Android) is worth consideration. By linking all of your accounts, pension pots, loans, and investments to your free Mint account (US and Canada only), you can see a detailed overview of your financial situation. You can also set up and keep track of savings goals and budgets. Read our beginners guide and advanced tips to see what else Mint can offer.
Mint also has some features for managing recurring payments. You can, for instance, set up alerts to remind you when a bill or credit card payment is due. You’ll also be notified of rate changes.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to see a list of all your subscriptions. But you can keep track of these more easily by manually categorizing and tagging those recurring payments within your Mint account. You’ll then be able to see how much your subscriptions are costing you each month.
Do You Check Your Subscriptions Regularly?
Most of us have no idea how much we really spend each year on online subscriptions. Many of us even lose track of what we’re subscribed to!
Whatever tool you use to keep track of these subscriptions, make sure you list them all out. Write how much each costs. And make a note of the date the subscription renews. Keep this list up to date, and review it regularly.
If it turns out you’re just not using a subscription enough, cancel it sooner rather than later. Otherwise, those subscriptions quickly add up.
How much money do you think you could save if you cancelled your unnecessary subscriptions?