I've had pre-paid cards in the past but the app that accompanies the Monzo card should provide better insight into spending habits and make me think twice about my spending habits.
Yesterday I got a hold of my credit card statement. This is the statement for the credit card that I use for my freelance business. Web services, hosting, e-books and subscriptions all go on it. It's not wildy extravagant. Last month I spent just under £100 on products and services for my freelance business. I can definitely cut back on a couple of services I subscribe to and choose lower pricing plans, but there's another area where I can make savings.
Each month I pay a small amount to subscribe to a number of different services. For most of these services I'm happy to pay the monthly amount. It's always under £10 with the exception of one. Not a lot of money, but over the course of the year those add up.
Where I'm not saving money is paying the monthly subscription amount for these services rather than the annual amount. Most online products and services offer an annual discount that means you pay less for that service over the year. You do however have to pay for the annual service up front.
As I'm trying to keep a reign on my spending, I would love to switch to paying a once annual amount for these services, but with there being a handful that I can do this with, I'd rather not do it all in the one month. It would just cost too much money in the one month.
The alternative then is to stagger annual service subscriptions. Starting in April, I'm going to switch one service a month over to an annual subscription in order to save a bit more money. I'm already using these services on a monthly basis and have done for the last two years. I'm a regular payer and will continue to do so, so why not subscribe for a year and save myself some more money?
Making annual payments for products and services will increase my monthly spending for my business at first, but over the rest of the year, I'll see my monthly spending do down. There's a couple of trade-offs with this plan.
The first is that I'll be tied into that service for a longer period of time, but it's a trade-off I can live with. I've used the services I'm committing to for a few years now and I don't see me wanting to change in the next year at least.
The second is that my monthly spending projection will be hard to track given that some months will have larger one off payments. It's not a major inconvenience but I have been so used to maintaining a monthly amount that has been consistent for the last year.
Switching to annual plans for services is a difficult choice. I suggest that you only consider those services that are critical to your business and also offer a discount over paying monthly. You might only save yourself a small amount on one service, but across a handful of services you could be saving yourself a lot more. Definitely something worth thinking about.
As part of my smarter budgeting theme for the year, one area I'll be looking to budget better for is the amount of money I spend on apps and services on the Internet.
It's no secret that I like to pay for the services I use. It just makes sense to support the products that you love to use. That's what keeps them in business. We all have preferences for the tools we use and how we work, but I thought I would share some of my thoughts on keeping your apps and subscriptions in check.
Keep A Budget
Common sense really, but things can get out of hand if you keep on subscribing to multiple services or subscriptions on the Internet. Set yourself a monthly budget and make sure you keep within that budget.
App stores and easier ways of paying online make instant purchases too easy to do now. You can quickly spend $20 or more in a few minutes on apps and services. Review your budget each month and be ruthless with making cuts to your monthly subscriptions.
Ensure you're leave yourself a little room in your budget for experimenting with apps. You can't trial an app before buying it, so leaving yourself a little room for trialling a couple of apps a month.
I pay for things that give me value. The same goes for apps and subscriptions as well. I subscribe to a number of email newsletters, but they all offer some form of value. It's easy to subscribe to a newsletter thinking that it's $5 per month, but are you getting value from spending that money each month?
I think it's hard to quantify value, but the way I see it is that if I use that app or service on a daily basis then I'm getting value from it.
Don't Double Up On One Device
Having multiple apps on one device that do the same thing is a waste of money and time. At one point I had three apps on my iPhone for writing. Each was used for a different form of writing, but I've learned now that I can use one app more effectively for all my writing on my iPhone.
Doubling up on apps means that you also need to spend more time learning how to use those apps. Why spend the time learning about two apps when you can really master the one app.
Apps Can Vary Across Different Devices
So I mentioned there that I had three apps on one device, but what if you have a phone and tablet? Well in this case, you can use the same app for both devices if you can. If the app can work for you well enough on both devices then use it.
However, with devices having different form factors, it makes sense to use different apps that play to the strengths of each device. Yes you'll end up with multiple apps that do the same thing, but the money spent is justified in getting a tool that makes the interaction you need easier.
These are just some of my thoughts on the budgeting of apps and subscriptions. They're basically the guidelines I use to keep myself from throwing away money each month and drowning myself in unnecessary apps and subscriptions. I hope they can help you too.
This morning I was curious about the amout of money I was spending every month on subscriptions for products and services on the internet. It turns out that I don’t spend huge amounts of money on products and services. Here’s where my money is going on a monthly basis:
All in they come to just under £30 per month. The amount I am paying out each month is less than I thought, which means I have a few slots left for additional products and services. I’m already looking at taking out subscriptions to Treehouse to improve my iOS development skils, Instacast to sync my podcasts between devices and a Railscasts pro subscription.
What apps, services and products are you subscribed to on a monthly basis, and is there anything you are considering taking a subscription out on in the future?