I have a confession.
I’m a Disney addict.
It started last Christmas when I took my family to Disney World using a combination of credit card points and hotel loyalty points. A seven-night trip, including food and tickets, for a family of four staying on Disney property, cost me approximately $1,500. The average person would’ve paid over $5k for that vacation.
I’ve traveled all over the world, but now I don’t want to go anywhere else but WDW. All this to say, I love Disney. And you know what was released today?
TV Streaming Subscriptions
I had zero intentions of subscribing to Disney’s streaming service since I already subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime. And I recently added Apple TV to the mix because I got hooked on The Morning Show. There is no need for additional TV in my home.
I don’t even watch that much tv to support the need for all these streaming services. I could rationalize the Amazon Prime is not for TV, instead of for free two-day shipping – but that’s not being truthful.
But this morning, I got an email from Disney letting me know the service was live, and without even thinking, I subscribed. What can I say – Disney is irresistible. I will scrimp to save on food, but I will toss my money out the window for anything Disney related.
After subscribing, I opened up my YNAB budget and added the monthly fee to my expenses. It’s $13.90 a month, including tax. I opted for the Hulu and ESPN+ bundle. I figure my husband may overlook this addition to the budget if I toss the word ESPN into the sentence.
While I was in YNAB, I added up how much I’m spending on monthly subscription fees for tv streaming services. Combined, it’s just over $52 a month. It was higher than I expected.
I’ve fallen victim to subscription creep.
What Is Subscription Creep
Subscription Creep is when you sign up for monthly subscription services because the cost seems low and affordable. Yet, over time and on a cumulative basis, it adds up and steals your dollars from essential areas in your budget, such as retirement savings.
It’s similar to lifestyle creep, but specific to subscription and membership services.
I scrolled through the rest of my budget to see how much I spend on subscription/membership services outside of TV streaming. Some of them are for my bookkeeping business, but others are personal – such as Aaptiv, Trello, Audible, RocksBox, and LeTote.
After tallying up how much I really spend on subscription and membership services, I sat down to evaluate whether these services add value to my life, saved me money over the long term, and if I wanted to continue paying for them. It was a hard yes for Aaptiv and Trello. Both these services save me money in the long run.
Evaluating the True Cost of Subscription Services
Aaptiv keeps me healthy and saves me on a traditional gym membership. And Trello organizes my entire life and business, which is desperately valuable.
However, I had to crunch the numbers for Audible, RocksBox, and LeTote. Ultimately, I decided to cancel my Audible membership. Since I went out on my own, I either work from home or my client’s office, which is a four-minute drive from my house.
Given the cut in driving time, I don’t have much opportunity to listen to a book while I’m driving. I also found that I can get audiobooks cheaper and without a membership through Chirp.
I opted to keep my membership with RocksBox and LeTote. My logic behind this decision is the incremental monthly cost I spend on these subscription services satiates my desire to buy new jewelry and clothes. Over time, I’ve spent less on these budget line items than the combined cost of my monthly fees.
So, all in all, I only canceled one of my subscriptions, but I feel good about the fact I evaluated the others, and I’m intentionally leaving them in my budget.
Action Steps You Can Take Today
I encourage you to review your budget for monthly subscription and membership fees. Take inventory and evaluate the financial pros and cons of each. Calculate whether they’re saving you money in the long term and if they add value to your life. If they don’t, cancel them and put that money in your emergency fund, retirement account, or towards debt.
Has subscription creep happened to you? Review your budget, and let’s discuss it in the comments.