Drip-Drip-Drip: Reoccurring Payment Schemes

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The shower head in our bathroom is starting to drip. Our house is about seven years old and I’m sure there is some rubber washer that probably needs to be worn out. Now that I early retired, I guess I am going to have to figure out how to fix it.

It’s not the only drip that happens at our house that probably needs tending to. It seems over time we’ve gotten ourselves hooked up quite a number of re-occurring payment schemes. Buying things through ongoing electronic payment “drips” can also quietly rob one’s bank account.

Many of these subscription-based purchases are done for convenience. It is easier to connect one’s bank account to a business for automatic payment that to have to deal with a paper bill every month. Many things we buy – particularly online – are only available through a reoccurring payment. For our cellphones and cable TV/internet, we still get a monthly paper bill because I want to keep these purchases obvious.

I recently cancelled our Sunday paper because they insisted on signing us up for an ongoing subscription (and kept putting the newspaper at the bottom of the driveway. “Don’t worry,” they said “you’ll never have an interruption in service and never have to see a bill.” What they really meant was “This works out great for us because you’ll forget that you are even paying for the paper and that will allow us to jack up the price until we are making a ludicrous amount of money for your inattentive loyalty.”

After cancelling that, I made a quick list of all of the other re-occurring electronic payments that we are signed up for. Altogether, we are spending over $1,500 a year on these ‘never-see-a-bill’ reoccurring payments. Here’s what we have and what I’m planning to do to address each one:

  • NETFLIX – We spend $12 month/$144 a year on Netflix. It’s silly because we also have a full cable subscription and Amazon Prime (that also has movies). It’s largely used by our son who has left for college and uses it in his dorm room. We have the premium package because we have a couple sets that can run 4K/UHD content. I think I’m going to check to see if he can get a discounted student membership and cancel ours.
  • ANCESTRY.COM – I am the primary historian in our family and have used this family tree website quite a bit over the years. I used to access it through the library (free) or using trial period memberships. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line I ended up forgetting to cancel after the trial period and now I’ve been charged $99/year fro the past 2 years. The las payment got charged on 8/18, so now I’m locked in for the next 11 months. I will make a note to cancel 10 months from now on my calendar.
  • AIRLINE CARD – I signed up for a AmEx Gold Delta Airlines card last year. The annual fee was waived for year 1, but is coming up in November. I would rather switch cards and get another sign-up mileage bonus than pay next year’s annual subscription fee. I’ve made a note on my calendar to stop using the card and sign up for a new one in the next 30 days.
  • AMAZON PRIME – We are big Amazon Prime users – as is almost everyone I’ve met that has used it. It’s $99 a year for free 2-day shipping on many items on Amazon. I also use the streaming music (sometimes movies). This cost is worth it to us and I don’t see canceling the membership. That said, since I have a college student ID again, I might be able to take advantage of the free/discounted student membership they offer.
  • YMCA GYM MEMBERSHIP – This one is a little different that the other ones on the list. It’s an automated payment plan set up for my wife’s gym membership. It’s expensive – $68/month (or $816/year). She has belonged for many years and makes really good use of it. There may be cheaper gym memberships available in our area, but she has a real social circle at this one that means a lot to her. I’m fine 1000% fine with that – especially knowing it is a non-profit organization that also does good in our community. No changes planned.
  • WEBSITE HOSTING – This website is hosted by some company called Arvixe for $7/month or $84/year.  I signed up for it when I first set up the website in Jaunary of 2015.  I certainly didn’t know what I was doing then and I don’t know what they are doing for me now.  I think I’m also paying WordPress $99/year for something, but I don’t know what it is either.  I’ll have to educate myself on how all of this stuff works and see if there is a better approach.
  • SATELLITE RADIO – I used to have a very long commute to MegaCorp each day (45 minutes each way across town).  I’ve continued the $199/year subscription, but frankly don’t know if I need it.  Our new sports car came with a trial XM/Sirius membership and I cancelled that.  I may also be paying for an iPhone app that connects my to the service – but I never use that.  My next step here is to call them and figure out if I should jusr drop it altogether.

While these are a little different, it is worth noting that we are also locked into our cable TV/internet and cell phone plans. These are HUGE dollars each month ($185 & $240, respectively) and add up to almost $5,000 this year. These aren’t quite as ‘silent’ as the other ones because they have a fixed contract period and we see a paper bill every month.

I have, nonetheless, made a focus on cutting these costs down dramatically in 2016. I shaved $55 off of our monthly cable TV/internet bill in April ($660/year) and our two year cell phone contract with Sprint expires at the end of this month. I’m going to look into cell coverage without upgrading our phones this cycle, as a lot of the cost of the current pans is covering the new phones we got two years ago.

In fact, given all of the money at stake – thousands of dollars a year. I’m going to prioritize fixing the electronic drip-drip-drip of our bank account before I even bother to fix the dripping shower. I’m sure it will yield a better ROI – even if I end up hiring a plumber later!

Image Credit: Pixabay

18 thoughts on “Drip-Drip-Drip: Reoccurring Payment Schemes

    • Ooh … That’s a clever service. I’ll have to check that out. Lord knows how many other subscriptions I am signed up for!

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  1. This resonates a lot. We just cut the cord on cable. The antenna gave great reception for my Sunday night football feast. Also got rid of my personal phone since I use my company phone for all stuff.

    I would highly recommend looking into your blog site hosting provider and WordPress etc. Our site got compromised and we are getting Malware removed ( hopefully) as I write this. We have learned all sorts of stuff about backups of the site and service providers who can scan daily for malware ( hack) attempts. If massive orgs like Target and voting software systems can be hacked, our little blogs are very easy prey. We now know from painful experience. Worth some extra money there for piece of mind…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes – the cell phone seems high to me too! We have 4 Apple iPhones and one non-Smartphone on a Sprint “unlimited” plan. The contract is up in a few weeks. I already told my son not to expect to be upgrading to the new iPhone 7 Plus. I have to stop in the store and see what the best way to get the hardware cost out of our service.

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  2. A little bit here, a little bit there… pretty soon the leaks add up to a steady flow, you’ve got two inches of water in the basement, and a whole lot of carpet to tear out. Or some metaphor like that.

    You’re smart to make this a priority. It’s a lot easier when you have the time to dig into it all.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

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  3. I’ve heard of PF blogger stories where when they checked expenses for some credit cards they had, they’ve been charged extra for services they never even received! I’m going to give the companies the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re just not familiar with billing but that is still sleazy and they should know better. Autopay – the next big scam?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had it happen once that I was getting $1-$2 charges randomly show up on my statement. Small enough that I didn’t notice them at first. When I called the credit card company to figure out who was charging me, they found it to be fraud. Nothing I signed up for.

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  4. Pingback: I Tried to Cut the Cord. I Really Did. - Physician on FIRE

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