Subscription fatigue: How do we decide which subscriptions we really need?

Subscription fatigue: How do we decide which subscriptions we really need?

Whether it’s beauty or books, subscriptions now exist for just about anything, and the majority of us have signed up to at least one of these services

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Whether it’s beauty or books, subscriptions now exist for just about anything, and the majority of us have signed up to at least one of these services. However, although the variety and convenience of these businesses have proven to be incredibly popular with consumers, that popularity may have hit its limit.

Recent headlines suggest that consumers are currently experiencing a phenomenon called “subscription fatigue”. As brilliantly put by CNET’s Scott Stein: “Suddenly, or more than ever, we’re subscribing to everything, We rent the world we live in. Micropayments everywhere.” And, in his view, this move towards a future of “rentable luxury” is ultimately unsustainable, hence why people have begun to tire of this way of living.

Though a subscription might seem like a good deal when we first sign up, it could be costing more than we realise in the long run. A recent survey revealed that 84% of Americans have underestimated how much they spend on subscriptions every month, having put it at an average of $80. In reality, it was a monthly bill of $237 covering everything from music and video streaming to food services and wellness apps.

We also seem less convinced that these services are worth it on a financial level. Almost 25% of subscribers recently surveyed believe Netflix is too expensive, while back in 2017, 49% of people who cancelled a meal kit deliveries cited cost as the biggest reason.

Yet subscription services don’t look like they’ll be going away any time soon, so how can we continue to enjoy their benefits without becoming overwhelmed?

Limit your subscription period

Monthly, rolling subscriptions are the norm nowadays, but it could be in your bank account’s best interest to try and stagger the time periods if possible. The Cheese Geek’s cheese subscription service is a good example of such a model, as you can choose delivery on alternating months instead. Or better yet, you can pay in advance and receive a bespoke cheese box for a set three, six, nine, or 12 months. A one-off payment lets you try before fully committing to a continuous relationship. It also means you’ll avoid wasting money on a service that you may have decided isn’t for you, but are still paying for simply because you haven’t got around to cancelling your subscription.

Only choose one service at a time

As difficult as this can be, especially with video streaming platforms, you’ll be less likely to grow tired if you stick to one at a time. If there’s a show you’re desperate to watch on Hulu, cancel your Amazon Prime Video subscription in the meantime—even if it means there’s a program on there you’ll have to wait longer to watch. This could also save you spending a lot of time actively settling on a show, as you’ll be able to pick content to watch much quicker when scanning one platform rather than three. The same applies to things like fitness apps—don’t sign up to yoga, Pilates and HIIT classes simultaneously—while you could try to find one all-encompassing food provider rather than ordering in separate boxes for breakfast, dinner and snacks.

Know when to stop

Don’t waste money on services that add no real benefit to your life—remember, you’re paying for every one of your subscriptions. For example, if you started ordering meal kits because you wanted to learn to cook, stop calling them in once you finally become a whizz in the kitchen. Going through a recent bank statement and listing all the companies you’re debiting could help you identify which ones still provide good value for money, and which you could easily do without. Not only could a cull save you big bucks, but it could also make you appreciate the subscriptions you do have and, therefore, fight the fatigue.