Where is my money going?
KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS AND REGULAR FEES
We live in a “subscription world” today. You can get subscriptions for vegetable delivery, coffee, marketing support, music, TV, finance software…even HR apps. More or less everything can be ordered or paid for via a weekly, monthly or annual subscription.
However, when it is easy, it is often easily forgotten about. Small amounts can be ‘ignored’, but they also add up.
In this blog, I explore how money can be easily wasted on unnecessary subscriptions or by regularly paying a small amount for something a business doesn’t actually need at all. You’ll find advice on how to identify and analyse all of your subscriptions and monthly payments too.
HOW SUBSCRIPTIONS WORK
It’s normally very easy to sign up to a subscription service and the price is relatively small, or certainly it feels that way when broken down into affordable chunks.
It is also common that you will be offered an initial free or heavily discounted period, to make sure we really like it and are happy to subscribe. This is a sales tactic – how many times have you forgotten to unsubscribe in time and in a very specific way…and ended up paying for a subscription at full price without really noticing? …that can literally be why the free trial is there! However, the aim of this blog is not to knock this tactic or suggest you shouldn’t have subscriptions. After all, in many cases, they are convenient and we do need them.
More importantly, my question is:
- Do you know what subscriptions you have?
- Do you know exactly how many and for what?
- What are you paying in total?
- Do you need each and every one?
I invite you to do an audit of your subscriptions and make sure you understand exactly what you are paying for. I would encourage every business owner to do this, at least, every six months.
Hopefully, you have a separate business account, so the first part of exercise shouldn’t take too long. Take one month worth of bank transactions and highlight the monthly fees. If you are using accounting software for your bookkeeping, use it to download a list of monthly payments.
Now go through the following steps.
1. Identify all of them
Make sure you can identify all of your subscriptions and monthly payments easily and you know exactly what you are paying for.
Make a list and then using my suggestions below, categorise and analyse each of them.
Monthly payments are common, but are there any that are quarterly or annually? Don’t miss those.
2. Know the non-negotiable monthly payments or subscriptions
If it’s monthly payments like business rates, council license or similar, there is not much you can do about them, but it’s useful to be aware of them when looking at your business figures and making decisions about pricing new services or goods. The prices are unlikely to be negotiable and will possibly change so it’s good to have a sense on the overall sum of these, as well as the individual payments. Be sure to make a note if you are informed of an increase …I’d like to say ‘or decrease’ …but sadly this is rare!
3. Identify your utilities
Electricity, gas, phone, internet and other similar bills should be reviewed.
Again, it is common to pay a regular monthly amount, based on your average annual spend.
Consider, do you have a contract? Do you know when it will come to an end? Will it auto renew?
When it is close to the end, it’s worth shopping around – especially with rising energy costs. I have seen far too many times where a contract ends and. without realising it, businesses are automatically shifted to paying the ’emergency rates’, as I call them, or ‘out of contract rates’, as providers call them. Whatever you call them – they are expensive and you can save money just by signing a new contract.
You may think it is unlikely, but I have had real life experience of a client paying twice for exactly the same thing. For example, one client was paying two internet providers. The first was rubbish, so they got a new one, but did not properly cancel the first one.
I have had other clients who were paying for more than one phone line and multiple credit card machines, whilst only using one, for more than a year. Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure you are in complete control of who you pay for what.
4. Identify your subscriptions for consumables
What supplies are used within your business and its day-to-day running, things like toilet paper, stationary, ink cartridges – check if you are using them up or are they piling up in the corner or cupboard? Worse – are you binning unused items?
5. Identify your software and/or app subscriptions
Categorise them and be very specific about what they are, who uses them and how it makes your business better.
Not only does software change, with perhaps a better alternative being developed, our business needs change. New apps are released all of the time, so it’s worth investigating.
Things to consider for each item of software or app you are paying for include:
- Are you actually using it?
- If you are using it, are you aware of everything the specific software can do?
- Do you know what’s the latest upgrade or changes?
- Are you getting the most out of it – using all of the features?
- Are you paying for more than one software/app that does the same thing and where there is overlap?
- Is there ‘a new player in the field’, that might be cheaper or, more importantly, might save you more time?
Remember that with software and apps, cheaper is not always the best.
6. Identify any small loan or credit card balances
This is not quite a subscription in the traditional sense, but often entails a regular monthly fee and/or payment. You may be paying a loan back on a monthly basis or the minimum amount on a credit card, for example.
7. Take action and do regular check
Now you have your list of subscriptions and regular payments and they are all categorised and you are completely clear on what you have and what you are paying for, my final step is a reminder that if you identify a unused or ‘doubled-up’ subscription…or a repayment opportunity that will save you money…do something about it today. Don’t leave it another month!
You can cancel, research alternatives, book in a call with a provider to see if your current software/subscription can do more for you and look at your renew options for the out of date contract or those due to end soon.
Having listed all of these subscription and regular payments, also put in a reminder in your calendar, to check through them again, on a regular basis. Every 6 months is a good idea.
GET HELP IDENTIFYING AND EVALUATING YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS AND REGULAR PAYMENTS
Remember that the first time you do this exercise it will take some time, but going forward you will get so much out of it. Next time, it will be easier and quicker, and it will ensure you are not wasting money – which always feels good. Also, if identifying subscriptions is particularly difficult because you are not using easy-to-use accounting systems or software, consider if changing how you do your bookkeeping and recording of payments could help.
While this blog aims to provide helpful information, it’s important to remember that every business and person is unique. So, before making any decisions, we highly recommend seeking professional advice. We want to ensure that you have all the support you need to make the best choices for your situation!