How much do you think you spend each month without lifting a finger?
If you’re like the majority of Americans, it’s more — way more — than you guessed. Businesses increasingly love to sell services via subscription. You give your credit card number when you initially sign up — think Netflix, Home Chef or Stitch Fix — and you continue to receive the service until you cancel.
American consumers underestimate how much they spend on monthly subscriptions by an average of 250 percent, according to a study from Chicago-based C+R Research. They think they’re spending $86, but actually they’re shelling out $219.
Kathleen Blum, vice president for shopper insights at C+R Research, says she thinks some companies offer subscriptions with the hope that you’ll forget about the continual costs. “I’d like to think not all of them are thinking that way. But I certainly think that for some of them it’s kind of a regular stream of income,” she says.
For you, the money that trickles out every month may threaten to become a torrent when you look at the annual costs.
Several apps and websites promise to help you manage your subscriptions. Some do only that, and some offer the service as part of a wider menu of offerings that include budgeting assistance and negotiating lower prices on bills.
Some require you to link your bank and credit card accounts, a deal breaker on the privacy front for some people. Some only require you to manually enter your subscriptions. Those that obligate you to link your accounts to their apps say they have bank-level security and don’t store any of your information, but it’s always best to read the fine print.
Some of the services are free. But some have free and paid tiers, and some charge their own recurring fee after a short trial period.
Your credit card may offer a similar service without any extra charge, Blum says, naming Chase and Capital One as two companies with bill tracking “that might be a better option to go with.”
Here are six stand-alone services that can help you manage your recurring charges.
A subscription manager just for Apple devices
Bobby subscription tracker has one purpose: managing recurring subscriptions. It doesn’t require you to link your bank or credit card accounts.
After downloading the app from the Apple App Store — Bobby isn’t available for Android — you will need to take some time to enter all your recurring charges. The app does have a list of many popular services, including Amazon Prime, GoDaddy and YouTube. You can, of course, manually add any service not on the list.