Most of the e-commerce subscription based services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, satellite radio, credit reporting services, and resume services offer automatic renewals and automated payment processing. You can easily lose track of where your money is going on a monthly basis. We tend to like these payment plans because on-the-surface they appear to be very convenient. Recently, a good friend of mine told me how she reconciled the prior 12 months of banks statements and credit card statements only to find four different automatic payments that were being deducted monthly that were a total surprise. She also learned that for two years she had been paying for two different subscriptions to Netflix.
Online services such as credit services, resume services, and weight control have a tendency to capture you by offering a free trial service that will start billing after 30 days. Be very careful of all services that require you to add your credit card information up front. If it is advertised as free and a credit card number is required to get started, it is almost a 100% guarantee that the fine print discloses how an automated contract begins automatically, once the free trial ends. For example, many credit card services will offer “no annual fees,” but if you look closely at the terms and conditions, higher fees will automatically begin in the second year.
If you find it impossible to keep track of your own subscriptions there are services that you can sign up for that track your subscriptions and enables you to cancel through the service. A few to check out are truebill.com and asktrim.com. According to truebill.com, on an average they have saved their customers $512 a year. At a minimum you should set up automatic reminders on your cell phone or desktop calendar to pre-warn you that a free trial is expiring – allowing you to make a decision about whether you want to continue the service.
I suggest pulling out each of your current monthly billing statements after you read this blog and take a minute to scan through your bills and bank statements to identify these types of charges. These recurring charges are usually charged on the same day of the month so they are easy to spot.