5-Minute Fixes: Track Your Digital Subscriptions

February 27, 2020

When I first took over my parents’ finances I noticed several recurring charges that they couldn’t explain. After some research, we figured out that they were legitimate charges for digital subscriptions which they no longer used or needed. 

I did a digital subscription inventory this morning and was surprised to find I have over 20 digital subscriptions for my business and household. These are "invisible" financial obligations in the sense that they pull money directly from a payment source and no bills ever arrive at our home. A convenience, but also a liability if something happens to me and nobody else knows about them.

How many digital subscriptions do you have? Let's find out! Take five minutes to record and manage your digital subscriptions.

Five Minute Fix

5-minute Fix: Take an inventory of your weekly, monthly, and annual digital subscriptions.

Taking Stock of Your Digital Subscriptions

Make a list of all the apps and services you pay for weekly, monthly, or annually. Android and Apple phones both allow you to track any subscriptions you sign up for through downloaded apps (look in Settings on an iPhone or the Play Store main menu on Android.) 

This didn’t help me, since I originally signed up online for most of my services and memberships (not through an app.) I had to look through my various bank accounts, credit cards, and PayPal accounts before I had a complete listing of everything. 

For each app or service, you’ll want to track: 

  • Name of Site / Product / Service (Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime, etc.)
  • Digital Subscription Type (Streaming service, newspaper/media, membership, etc.) 
  • Username 
  • Payment Amount (how much the service costs)
  • Billing Frequency (how often you're charged for the service)
  • Auto-pay Setting (whether the service is on auto-pay)
  • Auto-renew Setting (whether the service auto-renews)
  • Payment Source (account or service used to pay for the subscription)

It took me a little longer than 5 minutes to get all the information together in the template. If you truly only have 5 minutes, download the template and jot down a list of every app, service, or membership you pay for on a recurring basis and set a time to come back and finish it over the weekend or later this week. You'll be glad you did!

Karen Purze
Extra Credit

Clean Up Your Settings and Payment Methods  After I filled out my templates (one for my business, one for my family), I realized a few inconsistencies. A business expense that was getting paid out of my personal account. A personal service that I signed up for with the “wrong” (i.e. not my preferred) email. Across all services, there were four different payment methods and as many different emails. Take a little time to clean up any inconsistencies you see in your own inventory.

Cancel Away!  I didn’t see any services I don’t value on my list, but obviously if you are paying for something that isn’t “worth it” anymore, go ahead and cancel it! 

Share  Is there someone in your life who should know about these “invisible” financial commitements if something happens to you? Your partner or your power of attorney, for example? Share your inventory when you’ve completed it. 

TIP: If you save, edit, and share the file from your online storage, they’ll always have the most up to date version.


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Karen Purze

About the Author

Karen Purze

Karen Purze is the author of Life In Motion: A Guide for Gathering Life’s Vital Details, a workbook to help people get their affairs in order. She blogs about end-of-life and emergency planning at lifeinmotionguide.com.

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