Ever get one of those emails from a place that you don’t pay attention to anymore and yet you’re still paying money for it? Recently I received an email from Yahoo! thanking me for my membership to their small business solutions. I also got some random renewal notice for a business email solution from Godaddy. When I got these two emails I was thinking, “huh?” But upon further inspection I realized that I was actually paying for these things and had absolutely no clue that I was using them. And the thing is, it’s not like I was paying a lot for these memberships or subscriptions. Sometimes it was as little as a $20 annual fee. But then I thought to myself, “wait a second, how many of these am I actually a part of?” Turns out it was a lot. I decided to take a deep dive into all the crap I had no idea I was paying for. This one should be a good lesson to all of us to keep better tabs on our finances.
Memberships and subscriptions
So I mentioned two already in the intro paragraph. But it turns out that I’m in some way a member of at least 10 “somethings” that I either completely forgot about or am just too lazy to cancel. Why? Because when I see $30 come up on my credit card bill I just pay it. Unless I see something I don’t recognize for over $1,000, chances are I’m gonna pay it. But yeah, that’s totally on me. Another thing you really need to watch out for whenever you join something is the fine print. 9 times out of 10 you’ll see that message that says something like “after X period your credit card will be billed monthly in the amount of X dollars.” Most companies will get you for at least a few months before you notice. Not only that, some companies are a royal pain in the ass when it comes to cancelling their service. Some will go as far as to not even allow you to cancel on their website and will force you to call their customer service. I think in 2021 alone I paid over $500 in completely unnecessary memberships and subscriptions. That’s 3 solid family dinners I could have experienced. That’s 1 night at a really nice hotel. That’s a month of my car lease. You get the picture. And all I had to do was not be lazy.
Cable and utilities
This is one that I think a ton of people will be able to relate to. Two things here. The first is that no one really needs cable anymore. If you haven’t cut the cord yet then you probably should. When I took a real inventory of what my family and I have been watching at home, 99% of it is on the Roku. We have subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple Plus, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and who knows what the hell else. Do I really need to have premium channels with my cable subscription? Hell no. All I need is basic cable and an internet connection and I’m good to go. That’s at least $50-100 a month in savings. Obviously it’s everyone’s personal preference but there’s literally zero reasons I need a premium cable package anymore. Also, check in with your cable and phone companies every 6 months. I guarantee you that every single time you do and threaten to leave, they will be able to reduce your rates. The second thing? The same goes for certain utility companies. It’s just a matter of checking in from time to time. Keep the pressure on these guys to keep their rates reasonable. They will.
Stuff in your credit report
This one happened to me a while ago and it was completely bizarre. When I first bought the house I currently live in, a credit report had to be run in order for me to get a loan. When I got the report back I had a really solid score. But even so, I wanted to know why I had the score I had and if I could improve it. As it turns out there was one outstanding item that I had never bothered to notice or check. Honestly I don’t know how the hell this happened but I had a membership to Gold’s Gym in Redondo Beach in California that was somehow still on file. This is way back from a stint where I lived in L.A. for literally 2 months all the way back in 2001. Now, it’s not as though I was paying for this membership the whole time but it was hurting my credit score thus hindering my full ability to borrow money. Once I got this thing settled I think my credit score went up by 50 points or so putting me into the highest tier of credit you can be in. Funny how some stuff from literally over a decade ago can affect your finances.
Other random crap
Let’s face it. How much other random crap are you paying for that you don’t realize? Off the top of my head I’m guessing at least $1,000-$2,000 worth of stuff you don’t even realize. And I’m not even talking about your morning coffee or anything like that. I don’t subscribe to the whole “save $100 a year on coffee and invest it and in 30 years you’ll have a million dollars!” No. Buy your coffee. Enjoy your coffee. Don’t deprive yourself of things you enjoy (within reason). But what I am saying is that you should be paying attention to the random stuff you are likely purchasing that is completely useless.
The grand total
My grand total? Well over $5,000 in money I simply shouldn’t be spending. And I’m willing to bet that many people are in the same boat as me. It would be one thing if we were talking about a few hundred dollars here. It’s another when we’re talking what could be hundreds of thousands of dollars of the years if properly invested (or even just saved).
Simple tip: check every six months
That’s all you really have to do. Take one day, every six months, and run a nice check on your credit cards, credit report, bank statements, etc etc. Just give it a glance and see if you can spot any abnormalities as in “this shouldn’t be here.” It’ll probably take you about an hour and it’s completely worth it.