In 2019, I’m focused on getting in control of my spending and saving as much as possible. It’s easy for me to cut back my spending on things like dinners out, to-go coffee, and unnecessary trips to Target, but I’ve learned that it’s trickier for me to cut down spending on purchases I perceive as “good for me.”
A specific spending category I overlooked for a long time were my subscription services. Over the past few years, the number of things you can pay money to subscribe to has risen drastically — and most of these companies are capitalizing on things that seem meaningful, healthy, and engaging. There are monthly subscriptions for everything from workouts to succulents. However, upon closer look, I’ve realized that although I felt like I was spending my money purposefully on these subscriptions, they haven’t been as critical to my well-being as I would have liked to think. I recently canceled several subscription services that I surprisingly have not missed.
The perfectionist side of me adores Headspace. I love the idea of meditating every day. Even more than just meditating every day, I love that Headspace has fancy graphics that showcase how many days in a row I have meditated. I once hit a 30-day streak and felt deeply proud looking at the “30 Day” badge I received.
However, it turns out that meditating really isn’t about streaks or colorful badges. I think Headspace can really help people develop a meditating practice, but I have become more and more irritated by the fact that it is a company that is monetizing something that’s so incredibly easy to do without an app. Also, there are several other great apps that offer amazing and free meditations (Insight Timer is the one I would recommend most). Aside from free apps, I pay $9.99 for Apple Music, which gives me access to many meditation albums.
Although I found Andy Puddicombe’s voice very soothing, I had stopped using Headspace daily months ago. Getting that 30-day badge had felt good, but I didn’t like the competitive energy it created within myself. I don’t want meditation to feel like a chore, or something I have to do so I don’t lose my “streak.” That ideology goes against the very core of what I want meditation to bring to my life. Since canceling my Headspace subscription, I now try to do something “meditative” every day. Sometimes that’s a walk around my neighborhood, a yoga class, or a meditation on YouTube. Some days I get radical and simply close my eyes and meditate without any guidance from an app and at no cost — imagine that!
Money saved: $12.99/month
I surprised myself when I made the decision to cancel my Netflix subscription. Everyone has Netflix! What will I do with my free time? It’s so cheap, why even bother?! These were some of the thoughts I pondered as I went through the process to cancel my subscription. However, deep down I don’t love Netflix. I get very overwhelmed with all of the options and often take forever to decide on what I want to watch. Once I do finally settle on a movie or show, I spend the first few minutes watching it wondering if I made the right decision. I honestly haven’t loved anything I’ve watched on Netflix since Breaking Bad. I also have access to HBO GO as well as Amazon Prime Video, which I’ve been turning to more often than Netflix. Although I will miss the occasional episode of The Office, I felt that getting rid of Netflix was the right decision for me. I honestly assumed I would regret this decision and re-sign up within a few weeks, but two months later and I’m still not missing the world of Netflix! Turns out there is a lot to be said for de-cluttering your digital video streaming world.
Money saved: $7.99/month
3. Book of the Month
I was sad to cancel my Book of the Month subscription because I absolutely loved the idea of this subscription plan. You get one book a month that is mailed to you in an adorable cardboard box. I rejoiced the day I walked home with the guy I was dating and found the box at my door. Even he was impressed that I was in a book of the month club! I felt like it made me 10x more adorable. However, I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t finish any of the three books I received during the time I was subscribed. Not one! I tried to start one of the books and didn’t find it very engaging. When the other two arrived, I placed them on my bedstand but never got around to flipping them open. I felt relieved when I finally canceled the plan. I was happy to stop paying a monthly fee for a book I wouldn’t read. I’m going to stick to the library (which offers free audiobook downloads!) and the occasional purchase from Amazon or a local bookstore.
Money saved: $16.99/month
4. Sweat: Kayla Itsines Fitness
Just like Book of the Month, I loved the idea of this app. I had seen fit girls posting about Sweat and Kayla’s “Beach Body Guide” for years! After seeing what felt like the 1,000th before-and-after photo, I succumbed and downloaded her Sweat app. I actively used it for about a month and did the workouts four days a week in the gym. It got me to use weight machines I would have never touched, which I am thankful I know how to use now. However, after a few weeks, I stopped using the app. I got bored very quickly working out alone, and sadly learned I don’t have the best drive or motivation when working out solo. I have since joined an affordable yoga studio near my apartment. I work out harder when I’m in a class with an instructor. Although yoga doesn’t keep my arms as toned as Kayla’s workouts, I love being in a room of yogis and the sense of calm I feel after each class. I’m happy to not be wasting money on a workout app that doesn’t serve my personal needs.
Money saved: $19.99/month
Total saved: $57.99/month
Although each subscription was a relatively low cost, by canceling these subscriptions, I will end up saving about $695 this year! I think a lot of us can overlook things we spend money that are supposedly “good for us.” Sure, that meditation app might actually help you live in the present, but for me, I’ve found more success with this off my phone. You don’t need to cancel all of your subscriptions, but I encourage you to think critically about what subscription plans bring you joy, versus simply making you feel like you are spending your money on something worthwhile.
Mona is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. She likes drinking coffee, summiting mountains, and eating mangos. She is currently writing about all things related to money on her blog monasmoney.wordpress.com.
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