My family is trying to reign in our credit card spending and we recently ran into a little surprise. A card that we had paid off, cut into two and all but forgotten existed was the subject of an email asking if I was planning on paying towards the balance. Since I had cut the card in half six months ago, I was really curious what balance was being talked about. And how much it was going to cost me.
Apparently, I had Hulu attached to the card. My old Hulu account that we didn't use anymore because now we had Hulu in my wife's name through some offer or another and were "saving" money.
For six months I was being charged $6 each month and it eventually got the card company to trigger off an automated email. To make matters worse, it had been well over a year since we moved to a different Hulu account and we just never got around to closing the original. That's over $100 that I've just thrown away because I'm forgetful and/or lazy.
I hated giving away $100 but thought that was the end of it.
Now I am not very happy that I gave away $100, but what's done is done and I was ready to move on. My wife the accountant, however, weelllllll let's just say she decided to take a look and see what recurring payments I was making.
Recurring payments are those amounts, usually small, that you get charged every month for a good, service, or subscription. And I have a handful of them, including some that I have no idea what they are or how they got there, and more importantly how to stop them.
My wife was inspired. She moved through all of our accounts, then went to work seeing what my kids were paying and didn't know why, and even talked to the neighbor who was apparently still paying for a recycling service that she no longer uses. Zombie subscriptions are a thing, and companies depend on you signing up and forgetting so that they keep getting a few dollars each month.
Companies depend on you signing up for things and forgetting to cancel.
I'm guessing all of us have seen one of those deals where you sign up for a free trial, but if you don't reach out and cancel it will cost you a few dollars every month to keep. There's a good chance you may have said to yourself "I'll never remember to cancel" and passed — I know I have. And you're probably right; you would have forgotten to cancel. It was designed to make money because you will forget to cancel. It's set up to create a zombie subscription that you pay without realizing. Braiiiiinnnnnnnnssssssss.
Now I'm now saying that you should be afraid to sign up for anything with a recurring monthly charge. Things like streaming services, in-app subscriptions, monthly book or music services, all of these can be awesome and worth every penny. But you need to take a look and make sure you're only paying for the things you want. You might be surprised.
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