Auditing your financial life

Here’s something I’ve never shared with you: I’m a procrastinator. A big time procrastinator. Snoozing the morning alarm. Waiting until I’m right against a deadline to complete a project. And I perpetually reschedule reminders on my phone to ding me tomorrow. One of the most egregious ways I procrastinate is canceling subscriptions, especially if I’m required to have an in-person conversation (or even an online chat convo) in order to cancel.

That’s right, your friendly money advocate is also afraid of saying to someone’s face that I don’t want to financially support their services anymore. Because it’s uncomfortable, right? Oftentimes you’re asked why and the why could be as simple as, “I don’t really use this anymore” or as personally awkward as, “this doesn’t really fit into my budget.” Both of which are true for me on subscriptions I still pay for monthly.

I’m completely aware of the risk in this conversation because you are reading this newsletter as part of a subscription you pay! It’s quite possible Broke Millennial with Erin Lowry could end up being $5 a month you can’t justify in your budget. I’m just sitting here hoping the value is there for you.

It’s also particularly uncomfortable when it’s a long-term relationship you need to end. I’ve been getting facials for nearly two years with the same person. I like her and the job she does, but the company she works for keeps raising prices and I just don’t feel like I’m getting nearly $200 (after service and tip) in value from the facial. That’s a lot of money! I’d rather cancel the monthly membership and just pay the non-membership fee for a quarterly facial or even go to a more luxurious spa and spend the big bucks for a super fancy one as an occasional splurge.

The other interesting element in this case is that I’ve learned a lot about skin care through the years and feel pretty confident in my ability to level-up my at-home skincare game. Because the place I go specializes in what amounts to an express facial, it’s effective, but at the price point, I’d rather spend more with less frequency to have a longer facial with a few more add-ons.

Back to the point of running a financial audit. 

This is a practice you should do at least annually, if not semi-annually. The simplest way is to download several months worth of monthly bank and credit card statements. I’d suggest at least three, but keep in mind that you might have annual subscriptions or payments that are worth evaluating too.

Take the time to run down each statement and look for subscriptions, fees, or services that you don’t regularly use. Hello streaming services! Do you really need four or five of those at once or can you rotate which ones you’re using? Write down the service and the cost. Make note if you’d keep the service at a lower rate.

You should also write down your annual subscriptions/bills, especially insurance, and determine if it’s possible to negotiate on lowering costs. (Calling about our auto insurance is a reminder I’ve been snoozing!).

Then set aside one hour in the next week to start unsubscribing from the services you no longer use or no longer find valuable. It might also not be a total unsubscribe but rather a downgrade.

You might also be pleasantly surprised that some companies will offer a cheaper rate for a period of time in order to keep you. Just don’t let a representative guilt trip you into staying! Only accept this offer if it was one of the services you previously marked as one you’d keep at a cheaper price.

Now, here’s the kicker! You should consider saving your savings. That means all the money you just freed up by canceling subscriptions should be put into savings (or put towards another financial goal like debt payoff). If it’s money you were living without before, it’s quite possible you could put it towards your financial goals instead of letting it linger in your checking to be spent some other way.


Photo by Jessica Lewis 🦋 thepaintedsquare on Unsplash

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