As small business owners we have to constantly keep an eye on many aspects of our enterprises but there are some things that we put on auto pilot that can easily slip under the radar.
Now some of these, like recurring transactions in our accounts can be really useful in freeing up our time and ensuring our business runs smoothly. But some can mean we hang onto things longer than we need to which can mean extra expenses and wasted resources.
One of these is subscriptions, I am sure you have some, those programs or offers you signed up to that seemed like the deal of a century at the time but you have since failed to use it at all. It’s a bit like the digital version of a gym subscription, you have all the intentions in the world of working out 5 times a week but then suddenly 6 months has gone by and you haven’t been once!
Perhaps you signed up for a trial or free period and then forgot about it and now it is just automatically renewing, each time you see the charge and think you should do something about it but then it slips to the bottom of the list and before you know it, it renews again!
Even small charges add up, an app that is costing you $10 a month will be costing you $120 per year. Now, let me ask you if someone handed you $120 right now, do you think you could find a use for it? I am sure you can, so reviewing all these “little” outgoings is definitely something you should do regularly.
If you feel like you are paying out for more things than you can remember my suggestion is to start with your accounts. By this I don’t mean your MYOB or XERO reports, I mean go straight to where the money is – your bank or Paypal accounts.
I mention Paypal because if you are using Paypal to both receive and pay out money you may have expenses coming straight out of your balance that you haven’t even notice.
Step 1 – print out all your expenses from your bank and Paypal accounts for the past 2 months. This will capture all those monthly and weekly amounts that you may have forgotten about.
Step 2 – go through and categorise them as:
- Yes – I need this and I use it, it is a worthwhile expense for my business.
- Maybe – I kind of use this but there could be a better alternative.
- No – what the heck is this and why did I sign up to it.
Step 3 – deal with each category immediately
- Yes – ensure these transactions are being recorded in your financial accounts.
- Maybe – research whether there is a better alternative. If you do not have time to do this consider pausing the subscription to assess whether you can live without it.
- No – cancel it straight away.
Once you have completed this process how do you make sure you don’t end up in the exact same position again? Well, I have some tips for that too:
- If you are signing up for an app with a free trial or lower intro price, cancel the subscription straight away. You can go into your apple ID straight away and cancel the ongoing subscription, you will still retain your trial period but you won’t have to remember to cancel at a later time.
- For other subscriptions set yourself a reminder in whatever way works for you. Stick a post it on your fridge, a reminder on your phone, task in your task list or flag the sign up email. Use whichever process works for you.
- Before you sign up for any programs consider whether you really want them. It’s not just about the shiny promises the program offers you, think can you afford the financial fee, the time you will take up using the program and the emails you will inadvertently get when they add you to their mailing list.
- Commit to a time every month or 3 months when you will go through and review all your subscriptions depending on how often you sign up to things. Again, use a reminder system that works for you.
These tips will work not only for digital subscriptions but expenses such as magazine/ newspaper subscriptions, professional memberships and entertainment services such as Netflix (though that definitely sits in the yes category for me!).
Working through this process may just free up some of your income as well as decluttering your life.