Perhaps I should file this under “obvious, ” but canceling “zombie” charges — i.e., charges for services or subscriptions that you no longer use — is a great way to save money. If you’re not already doing so, get in the habit of reviewing your credit (or debit) card statements to find “zombie” charges that you’ve long since forgotten.
Here are a couple of quick examples…
Canceling Consumer Reports
About five years ago, when we moved into our current house, we signed up for an online subscription to Consumer Reports. At the time, we were planning on buying multiple big ticket items over the coming year, so we signed up for the “auto-renewing” annual subscription for around $25/year instead of paying $5/month for access.
Of course, I planned on canceling the subscription when we were done with it, but I never go around to it. Fast forward to now… We’re still signed up. Or at least we were until I clicked the button to cancel our subscription over the weekend. To be fair, we’ve used it several times since we signed up, but not in the past year or two, so we’ve wasted a decent amount of money on this.
Subtracting Hulu Plus
Also, over this past summer, I signed up for Hulu Plus to see what all the fuss was about. We have a Roku player, and I was drawn to the idea of being able to stream shows to our TV. On top of that, Netflix was in the process of jacking up their prices, so I wanted to check out the alternatives.
Well, guess what? We hardly watch it. And yet, we’re still signed up for it. Part of the problem is that I really like the idea of this service, even if we don’t use it enough to make it worth the $8/month fee. Thus, I’ve hung onto the subscription for a few months thinking… Hmmm, I’m not sure what I was thinking. That we’d eventually start using it, I guess.
The thing is, it’s dead easy to sign back up, so there’s no real risk to canceling. If I have second thoughts, I can just log back in and sign up again. As of now, we’re no longer Hulu Plus subscribers.
And there you have it… Two quick examples of zombie spending that were costing us over $120/year. If you want to avoid this sort of thing, all you need to do is pay close(r) attention to your bills and (this is the important part) take action when a charge pops up for something that you don’t really use.
Going forward, it’s probably not a bad idea to set an automated reminder to re-evaluate whatever it is that you just signed up for.
What about you? Do you have any examples of zombie that have been draining money out of your pocket? If so, please share them in the comments.
P.S. Yes, I know that you can access Consumer Reports online through many (but not all) libraries.