How to Cancel or Slash Costly Memberships, Services and Bills

If you forget about even one subscription or membership, it can ding your budget over and over. Here's how to stop the financial bleeding.

The list of recurring expenses we can potentially forget to cancel goes on and on. They include:

  • Gym memberships
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • E-book services
  • Video-streaming and pay-TV services
  • Mobile apps with monthly fees

The internet makes it easy to sign up for a service or subscription — and to lose interest in it before long. But if you forget about a recurring expense for a service you no longer use, it can cost you again and again.

So, if you’re worried you might have forgotten about such an expense, it’s smart to periodically review your recurring expenses. There are two main ways to go about this:

  • The hired-help method, which can save you time and stress, but can cost you some of your potential savings
  • The do-it-yourself method, which can be time-consuming and tedious but can eke out a little more savings

Reviewing memberships and subscriptions the easy way

There are now multiple services that specialize in finding and canceling any memberships, subscriptions and other recurring expenses you’re paying for, but not using.

Others can negotiate lower recurring expenses on your behalf. For example, imagine having your internet bill slashed without ever needing to pick up the phone to argue with the internet provider.

Examples of services and apps that can find and cancel subscriptions, negotiate lower bills or both include:

These services are typically free, at least at the outset. If a service can negotiate a lower bill, it often takes a small percentage of the money it saves you as a commission. But you generally won’t be charged if one of these services is unable to net you savings. So, it’s essentially free to try them.

To learn more about how they work, check out these reports in which we look at BillCutterz and BillFixers:

Reviewing memberships and subscriptions the DIY way

If you’re one of the financially fastidious folks like myself who routinely reviews financial statements, a DIY method might be the right approach for you.

Basically, it entails you doing everything a third-party service would do for you. That means rounding up and combing through all your:

  • Credit card bills — at least one year’s worth
  • Bank/debit card statements — at least one year’s worth
  • Emails (and anywhere else you might have receipts) — at least one year’s worth
  • App store settings

Combing through financial statements and receipts helps you to identify subscriptions and memberships for which you did not go through an app.

You want to go through at least one year’s worth of statements and receipts to make sure you identify subscriptions and memberships for which you are being charged only once a year, rather than monthly or weekly.

Looking through your settings for whatever app stores you use helps you to identify subscriptions and memberships you obtained through an app. Popular Science :

“If you’ve subscribed to something through the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store, you’ll have used the payment credentials registered with Apple or Google. And that means they’ll have records of any recurring payments. Reviewing these records gives you a quick way to see how much you’ve been paying, and whether you should consider canceling any given subscription.”

Once you’ve combed through all of that, decide if you want to cancel or try to reduce the cost of any subscriptions or memberships you no longer use. Then, get to work canceling them. Also, check out “How to Slash Your Monthly Expenses.”

Have you ever used a service to find or cancel old subscriptions or memberships? Or have you done this on your own? Tell us about your experience and if you’d recommend it to others by commenting below .

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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