On my way to Bankruptcy Court in Greenbelt, I caught a story on WTOP that said that more than 2 million people who are still paying for AOL dial-up service actually have high-speed internet access. It would seem likely that many of these people are paying for a service they no longer use. As part of our bankruptcy practice here in Southern Maryland we have to make sure that a client has stopped using their credit cards. Sometimes a client will say it has been over a year since they have used their card. Yet we often find that many of these people still have recurring charges and automatic renewal fees being charged on their credit cards for services they no longer use. While this may not interfere with the filing of their bankruptcy, this story by WTOP did make me think that it may be time to update our article on doing an annual financial review. How many other people are falling in to this same trap?
With more and more internet services and software programs going to a subscription basis, there are a lot of services you can sign up for with a recurring monthly or annual charge. To get you to fall into this trap, these charges often start automatically after a 30 day trial period. While these charges may not seem like much on individual basis, they can ad up fast. That extra $4.99 for Netflix DVD’s may not be a budget buster, but it sure is a waste of money if you haven’t watched a non-streaming movie in over a year. Has that free 3 month Apple Music trial period turned into a $9.99 a month charge while you are only listing to music on Spotify? What about that Norton Antivirus subscription you signed up for two laptops ago? Are you still getting charged for that?
The next time you find yourself about to sign up for some free trial period or subscription service, take some time to look at your bank account instead. Play a version of Where’s Waldo. In this version, try to find and cancel a service that you are paying for that you don’t use. While you are at it, take some time to look at this story from WTOP on Getting Into Financial Shape and our guide on How To Perform An Annual Financial Review.