Unless you live in isolation on top of a mountain, you pay many bills each month. Internet, cell phone, cable, online subscriptions, insurance, electricity, etc.
These bills have multiplied now that you can subscribe to services on the internet. Do you know how much you spend, when the billing dates are, and how you pay for everything? Most people don’t.
(For those who do track your bills: congratulations, you’re ahead of the curve. Most people don’t, at least not in their 20’s)
I know I didn’t, until I decided to take an hour to look over my credit card statements and write everything down.
You should do the same. Then list the results. You don’t have to be fancy – I made mine in google docs.
I split my list between business and personal expenses. For each entry, I have:
- The total price.
- The Billing Date. (Why not?)
- The Payment method (name of credit card or paypal)
Advantage To Listing Your Monthly Bills
Listing my bills lets me total my monthly expenses from bills and subscriptions. I already knew roughly what I spend for my other main categories of spending (rent, groceries, amazon books, fun, etc.) Now I know roughly how much I spend each month, on everything. It didn’t take very long to do.
Recently, this list was very useful to me for another reason. One of my credit cards is expiring, and I had to update my payment information at every service that used it. I have about 12 bills, and I use different payment methods. If I missed one that used this card, I could lose a payment and possibly have the service cancelled.
But it only took me 15 minutes to fix everything. I just found which 7 bills used the card in question, went to their websites, and updated everything. Now I don’t have to worry about a missed payment.
I got the idea to track my subscriptions from I Will Teach You To Be Rich, by Ramit Sethi. Despite the somewhat scammy sounding title, this is a really good book that gave me some actionable tips towards tracking my finances. Ramit will teach you how to negotiate raises and discounts, and how to automate your saving and spending. Highly recommended.
Steps To Tracking All Your Monthly Subscriptions
- Write down all the things you think you’re buying each month. This isn’t essential, but it can help make sure you get everything.
- Get your last 2-3 statements for each credit card, and look at your last two months of paypal payments, if any. You’ll want multiple bills so that you can double check, and so that you can look for any weirdly named companies that handle payments.
- Open up Excel/Google Docs, and go through your statements.
- For each service, enter the price paid, and the date you paid it on. It’s occasionally useful to know billing dates, so you may as well collect them when you do this.
- For extra credit, categorize your subscriptions into a few major categories.
- And now that you have your bills all in one place, why not ask yourself if you really need all of them.
Bonus: Seeing all my services in one place made me realize that a few had become absolutely useless to me. I saved $20 per month. Not bad for an hour’s work.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’m Graeme. I’m a self-employed LSAT instructor in Montreal.
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I had this exact problem – I realized I had a ton of money (or what seemed like a ton to me 🙂 coming out of my account every month for subscriptions that I’d either forgotten about or no longer wanted. It was quite a pain going through my bill line by line, so I decided to do something about it. My brother and I built and launched BillNinja (http://www.billninja.com) to help people quickly find, track, and cancel their subscriptions.
I’d love for you to check it out and let me know what you think.
Graeme Blake says
I think I saw this on Hacker News.
1. Do you handle Canadian subscriptions/cards?
2. How do you ensure users’ privacy/what information do you require?