Do you have a ton of subscriptions you don’t use?

Most of us do. And it costs us hundreds.  “But it’s only (insert ridiculously low amount here)…”If you’re not paying attention, those little charges add up.

Most software–and even physical products–offer subscriptions. Almost everything digital I use, from Adobe to Apple, has some kind of monthly charge. In the past, software might’ve been expensive, but I only bought it once. I could stick with the same Microsoft Office edition for years. Most programs no longer support standalone programs and have transitioned us to the monthly charge. It feels cheaper, but over time, we’re paying much more.

Is that course platform you subscribed to going unused? Do you even go to the gym? How about those apps and upgrades for five or ten bucks a month?

If you are paying monthly for software, subscriptions, or services you don’t use, let them go. Twice a year, I audit my subscriptions. They’re easy to forget about and in the past I’ve let the charges slip through the cracks. Now, I keep a list. If you don’t have a list, look for repeat charges by skimming all your bank and credit card statements. Then ask, “Do I make good use of that?”

Professional associations

I used to belong to a few historical societies. The dues for the historical societies goes to a good cause, but after a while it all adds up. The benefit of the societies is that I can access the libraries and resources, but they’re generally only open during the working day. I let those memberships go. I may rejoin in the future–or, I might decide something else is more valuable to me.

The gym

This is a big one for many people. My gym isn’t expensive, but yours may be. And if you’re not using it, it’s guilt and financial clutter. So, if you’re not going to the gym, ask yourself why. Is it because you do other activities for fitness like play sports or run outside? If so, it may be time to quit. Is it because you’re failing to prioritize your health and fitness but you would go? If so, calendar off the gym two to three times a week as if it were a doctor’s appointment. Then, keep the appointment. It’s a date with your health.

Is it because you hate working out, but you feel guilty if you don’t? If you’re not using the membership, guilt doesn’t make things better. Cancel it, or commit and go.


This category is probably the biggest subscription charge you have. You probably have repeats here, too.

  • Storage: There’s Google, Apple, Dropbox, and Box among others. Are you paying more than one cloud space for the storage? In some situations this is a wise idea–I always recommend separating work and personal files. But if you have Apple Cloud, Google Drive, and Dropbox premium for no real productive reason, get rid of one or two. Then, use the one that’s left and back up your stuff offline as well so it’s safe in the event of a cloud hack.
  • Music: Apple, Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud. You may have repeat services. If so, take a couple weeks to analyze which ones you actually use. Get rid of the rest.
  • TV and Movies: Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, Sling, HBO. Do you really watch all of them? If so, keep them. If you’re on streaming overload, kill a few and see if you miss them. For me, I have Amazon Prime and Netflix. There’s one show I watch on HBO. It’s cheaper for me to buy that show on Amazon and not carry an HBO subscription.
  • Monthly boxes: My son wanted the GuavaJuice Box. There were two options–a one-time purchase (which we did) and a subscription. When he got the box he realized it didn’t have value–it had a few dime-store cheap toys in it–things that would be in that add-on aisle for a buck or two.  Subscription boxes can seem like gifts to yourself and give you ideas, but only keep the ones of value. There are some fun ones out there, but don’t let them get away from you. If you’re subscribing to a food delivery box, you’re paying triple what it costs to prep the highest-quality meals at home. However, if you love Birchbox or Stitch Fix to try out makeup and get fashion ideas, it could be fun.

“But it’s only ten bucks!” Do not fall victim to this thinking!

It’s easy to let subscriptions ride because they’re cheap. That $2.99 for storage doesn’t seem like a lot. But when you add them up, it’s a lot.

Here’s what I let go…

An online bookkeeping platform. I could never set it up right so it wasn’t doing me any good. Despite a bunch of tutorials, I never got it to reconcile, and was checking all my accounts individually anyway. No value here. Gone! (Savings: $10/mo)

An app that does great photo stuff and makes Instagram collages. I have Adobe. I was struggling to learn Adobe, but if I have to choose, Adobe is the industry standard. I don’t need to pay the “too lazy to get over the learning curve” charges for a bunch of apps that did the same thing. Plus, $10/month is high for a single-use gadget app.  (Savings: $10/month)

A membership to a tech group. I joined the group to learn some specific tech skills but ultimately, it wasn’t a value add. The weekly member webinars never helped my specific situation and were at a time I could rarely attend. The Slack group didn’t help either. (Savings: $50/month)

My email list provider.  I switched to Mailchimp. Everyone smart I knew was using Mailchimp and until my list grows, it’s free. I got the other service when I first started blogging and creating email lists, but I was overpaying. (Savings: $20/month)

My hosting provider: I could write an article on this. I’ve been through three hosting providers. They’re all difficult to navigate and overpriced. I finally found WordPress-owned Pressable. I can get all of my sites hosted for $25/month, and most of the things that were upcharges on the other sites (SSL certificates, Jetpack, and other things) are included. Plus, if you’ve ever seen the back end “C-panel” page that controls a self-hosted site, then looked at Pressable, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about. Pressable makes it pleasant. I could get a bigger discount by paying yearly, but for now, I’m month-to-month. Also, I took my personal “business card” site off of Squarespace (which I set up to learn the platform). So, instead of paying, essentially, for two hosting platforms, I was paying for one that made me smile. All total, I saved $12.95/month on Squarespace, $13.95 on the other host site, $165 times two for Vaultpress backup (it’s included in my hosting now) to back up each of my primary sites. So, this was a big savings. I was spending about $652.80 a year on websites. Now, I’m spending $300.

An online course space. It was $35/month. I wasn’t finishing the courses I stared. Most weren’t helpful, and I’d end up googling and watching something on YouTube for free. Courses are hit and miss. If you use course sites and get value from them, keep them. If you use them less than once or twice a month, cut them loose. (Savings $35/month).

TOTAL SAVINGS: $2152.80 per year.

The important thing here is this–I wasn’t cutting corners. I wasn’t acting like a “broke teacher” in any way. If I wanted something, I kept it. And some of what I kept is high-quality and not cheap.

Here’s what made the cut:

Evernote: It’s $45/year. I use it frequently. I noticed I’m shifting over to Google for most of my notetaking and production, but the Evernote Web Clipper allows me to save articles and pages from the internet right into notebooks so I can plow thorough research quicker then visit one notebook when I’m ready.

Adobe: Adobe felt like it might get put on the waste list, because it’s hard to use. I needed Adobe Acrobat, but I wanted to use Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. What kept me paying was Lightroom. It was intuitive and amazing to use for photography. Lightroom and Photoshop integrate well so little by little I was able to learn to do simple edits on Photoshop. Still, it wasn’t enough to make me justify keeping Adobe–the student membership is $359.88 a year for the education price. Monthly, for a normal person, it’s $52.99. Still, it’s the industry standard. So, I committed to spending an hour on Adobe a day and learning Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign well enough to justify keeping them–before my renewal date–or out the window they went.  They will make the cut anothe ryear.

Cloud Storage: I had to keep two spaces. One, I was using with others, and the other I have been using myself.

Microsoft Office: I don’t use it often, but it’s still the standard. Otherwise, I’m predominantly using Google. But when someone sends you a Word file, you’d better be able to read it.So, I subscribed to Microsoft 365. I’m dealing with books and editors. I had two options–the standalone or the subscription. Microsoft has done a lot of work to catch up to Google in sharing and syncing while keeping and adding some features. So, while I’ve been using Google for the past half decade, I’m reuniting with Microsoft lately.

One more tip…

If you have any subscriptions at all–newspapers and software especially, check for an education discount. I haven’t seen one yet that doesn’t have one. It’s not always on the website. You may have to send an email to customer service, but if you use the discount, you’ll save even more.