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  • Oriana Skylar Mastro

Managing Online Subscriptions

Wow, we do a lot online. I know that is an obvious statement, but my internet was out for the past two days, and life was hard. Work was impossible. But also, in this COVID world, a lot of our fun is online. Which brings me to the big admin task we will talk about today: subscriptions.

Subscriptions are a service you pay for on a set basis – usually monthly or annually. They can be for a wide variety of purposes. Streaming subscriptions for Netflix, amazon prime, Hulu, HBO, etc. Subscriptions to news sources, fitness classes, photo storage, and music streaming. Subscriptions for software that help with work like email organizers, cloud storage, websites – the list is endless.

Guys, I have 42 active subscriptions.

You may think why 'manage' them? Why can't I just sign up for them and then never think about it again?

Well, first, you may forget you have them. And that means you aren’t enjoying the content available through your subscriptions. Or you don't want that service anymore, in which case you should cancel them, so you aren't paying for them. You may also subscribe to something because you are getting a good deal, but want to remember to cancel before the price increases. Of course, you would never share your login details, but hypothetically if your family members constantly text you for your info, it would be useful to have a way to quickly share. So let’s get started.

1. Plan and pay the setup costs. Gather all the information about your subscriptions in one place. I include the service, username, password, cost, renewal period, and notes. 2. Put it together. Make a record of the information you gathered. I put it all on an excel spreadsheet that I also link to Evernote. I separate my subscriptions into three sections: TV, news/education/lifestyle, and work/organization. Here’s a template to use to get started.

Download XLSX • 16KB

3. Produce reminders. If you know there's a subscription that you'll keep forever (Netflix, anyone?), then no need to add any reminders. Here are a few situations in which you'll want to add them:

1) If you aren’t sure you’ll want to renew something when the time comes around, set a reminder for the week before the renewal date to give yourself time to cancel if you decide to do so. That takes up much less time than trying to get your money back once you’ve been charged

2) You’ve got some special deal which makes the subscription worthwhile, but you aren’t willing to pay full price. Again set a reminder to cancel before the promotional price expires.

3) If there are certain times when subscribing is cheaper than others. For example, since I'm in the military, I get amazon prime half off, but only if I sign up on Veterans Day. Other subscriptions offer steep discounts every year on Black Friday, so I make sure to renew them then.

4. Performance notes.

I include information on promos in my performance notes, whether my work will reimburse a subscription or they are tax-deductible, when free trials end, etc. If you travel a lot, you can also make a note of subscriptions to pause or cancel because they’ll be unavailable overseas (or which VPNs work for which services).

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