Do you know how much you spend every month on automated payments?
Are you sure?
I wasn’t. I knew I had a few payments that came out of my credit card automatically every month, but I couldn’t have told you the total if my life depended on it. Probably not even within ten dollars, to be honest.
So a few weeks ago, I sat down to once and for all figure out how much was coming out of my credit card every month without me even being aware of it. In the end, it totalled $108.02. That’s $1296.24 a year. Even worse, most of the payments were charged in USD to my very CAD credit cards, so the payments fluctuate every month based on the exchange rate.
Here’s where that money was going.
Skillshare – $12.48 CAD
For the first few months I was using Skillshare, this was a great and very frugal option for me. I took several classes, mostly focused on hand-lettering and calligraphy, and gained a new skill that basically means I never have to spend money on greeting cards, ever again, if I don’t want to. But that was over the winter, and when I looked at this charge on my June credit card statement, it hit me that I hadn’t even opened the Skillshare website in months.
Verdict? This can go.
Rdio – $11.29 CAD
While I’ll never claim to have great taste in music (hello, entire-Glee-soundtrack-in-my-music-library!) I do love having music to listen to at work, since I spend a lot of my day writing with my headphones on. I started using Rdio about three years ago and even after trying Spotify and Apple Music, I keep coming back to it as my favourite music service. I don’t have to worry about buying new music when it comes out, and with only two exceptions I can think of, it has everything I could ever want to listen to and more.
Verdict? I want to keep it, but after doing a tiny bit of research, there’s a cheaper option available.
Since The Boyfriend and I are both Rdio users – something that came up on our very first date! – and we’re both paying the individual rate ($9.99 USD), we could each save $2.50 USD every month by switching to the family plan ($14.99 USD) for two accounts.
Add that to the fact that the Canadian dollar is not having a very good summer, and we’re both saving about $3.30 every month off a service that we love.
Note: Rdio sadly went out of business a few months after I wrote this, so these days we share a Google Play Music family plan. Same idea, same savings!
Equifax – $16.95 CAD
This payment falls squarely in the I-thought-I-was-being-good-with-money camp. Sigh.
Equifax is one of the Canadian credit monitoring bureaus, and after reading a few personal finance books that recommended finding out your credit score, I signed up for Equifax’s monthly credit monitoring to get my report, with the full intention of cancelling it before the first month was up. So I signed up, got my credit score (mid-700s!) and then… nothing.
Oh sure, I poked around in the online dashboard and tried to find out how to cancel the account, but it turns out you had to call in to cancel the account. Let me tell you, nothing infuriates me more than having to call someone about an online service. If I can sign up online, I should be able to cancel online, plain and simple.
As they no doubt intended, that one hurdle – calling in to cancel – delayed my cancellation by a solid two months. When I finally got around to calling, I had spent a totally unnecessary $33.90 CAD.
Verdict? Cancelled, and couldn’t be happier about it.
PetSecure – $63.53
After a small cut on The Dog’s paw turned into a $700 vet bill, I decided to sign him up for pet insurance. It just seemed like The Right Thing To Do, the kind of thing I would do if I was being a responsible pet owner.
But when I really sat down to think about it, I realized that saving for a pet emergency was an equally responsible choice, especially given my current financial situation. Even though it felt like the ultimate in tempting fate, after reviewing my monthly payments, I decided to cancel The Dog’s insurance and put all of the savings I got from cancelling these services into a savings account for future pet emergencies and inevitable vet bills.
iCloud – $1.12 CAD
I take a lot of pictures on my cell phone, and a few months ago, I ran into a bit of a problem. See, I have an iPhone, and because they’re already one of the most expensive phones you can buy, I went with the lowest amount of storage possible to keep the price within my budget. The problem came up when, because of that small amount of storage, I couldn’t even open the phone’s camera anymore.
There wasn’t even enough storage for one more photo, and the phone was revolting. No photos for you!
I tried everything, including deleting a slew of apps that I hadn’t used in a while. That bought me a bit of time, but with the amount of pictures I take of The Dog, it wasn’t long before the camera was on strike again. Fine, I got the message: I need to figure out a better solution.
The first obvious solution was to rant and rave about how much I hated my phone, and to justify spending money on an entirely new phone. Not my most frugal moment, eh? Luckily, another solution presented itself just in time.
iCloud, Apple’s online storage, could work pretty easily with my phone to store all of my photos automatically, at full resolution, for $1.12 CAD a month. When I compare this to what I was going to spend on a new phone, and put it in the context of how much I value not deleting my old photos in the name of taking more, this is a great deal.
Verdict? Keep it.
Google Drive – $2.65 CAD
This was another story about running out of storage, but this time it was on my laptop. The dreaded “other” category in my computer’s storage was almost hitting 65% of my total laptop storage, and it was pushing me into dangerously low levels of storage. Dangerous like “Outlook refuses to let you send or receive emails until you deal with this issue.” That’s pretty bad when it’s the computer I use for work.
Thanks to my insane love of Google everything, I’m plenty familiar with using Google Drive to store files. One look at the cost comparison between
- Expanded storage for a Mac laptop
- External hard drives
- Monthly cost of 100GB of storage on Google Drive
…and my solution was clear.
So now, all of my video files and high-resolution photos that were taking up so much space on my laptop are all living, safe and sound, in my Google Drive account. For a monthly cost of $2.65 CAD, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.
Bonus: as I look towards the day when my iPhone eventually kicks the bucket, I’ll be running straight back to a reasonably priced, mid-range Android phone, making my Google Drive storage even more useful. It’ll allow me to sync my photos really easily, and get rid of my iCloud account to boot.
So what do my monthly payments look like now, post-purge?
- Skillshare: $0 (-$12.48)
- Rdio: $7.99 (-$3.30)
- Equifax: $0 (-$16.95)
- Petsecure: $0 (-$63.53)
- iCloud: $1.12 ($0.00)
- Google Drive: $2.65 ($0.00)
- Total: $11.76 (-$96.26)
Just by sitting down to take a really close look at the charges that came out of my credit card automatically every month, I was able to save $96.26 every month. That’s $1155.12 every year, or 96.26% of my savings goal for topping up The Dog’s emergency savings, with money I otherwise would have been mindlessly losing to these recurring payments.
That’s a pretty great return on 30 minutes of work. Have you ever sat down to look at the payments that come out of your account every month?
Some footnotes, just to be clear:
- This doesn’t include bill payments like my cell phone bill, that I pay manually every month.
- I’m lucky that The Boyfriend has set up an amazing home tech solution, including Netflix for entertainment, and includes it in my rent. So that’s why there isn’t a Netflix subscription, a cable bill, or anything along those lines.