‘Sticky subscriptions’: what are they and how can Aussies save money?

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  • More than a third of Australians cutting back on subscriptions to save money.
  • Ditching old, unused or expensive subscriptions saving Australians average $670 each year.
  • An expert explains ‘sticky subscriptions’ and shares top tips on how to better manage them.

More than a third of Australians are making smarter spending decisions and cutting back on subscription services, saving on average $56 each month or more than $670 each year.

As the cost-of-living crunch continues, new NAB data reveals:

  • 37% of Australians have cut back on a streaming service in the past three months, while 33% have trimmed their spending on other subscriptions like magazines, apps and other goods and products.
  • Compared to this time last year, the number of Australians cutting back on streaming has grown by 12% and the number cutting back on other subscriptions has grown by 10%.
  • Gen Z are most likely to cut back on a streaming service (45%) or other subscription (42%).

NAB Retail Customer Executive Larna Manson said many Australians were making smarter spending decisions by cleaning up their subscriptions to help contend with higher living costs.

“Australians might be surprised to find out just how many subscriptions they’ve signed up to without even realising,” Ms Manson said.

“Decluttering expert Marie Kondo put it best when she asked ‘does it spark joy’ – you could save hundreds of dollars each year by unsubscribing from of old, unused or expensive products and services.

“You might have got to the end of a series or eBook, don’t need extra cloud storage for photos, changed up your meal plans or cooking or don’t need such regular deliveries of wine, toiletries or clothes and apparel.

“Even small changes like opening a shared family account to split costs, looking for more budget friendly options without the bells and whistles, or downgrading your plan can make a big difference.”

Australians looking to cancel or pause deliveries or services may also have encountered ‘sticky subscriptions’, which can make it trickier or take longer to cancel a service.

University of Tasmania Senior Lecturer in Retail Marketing Dr Louise Grimmer said some goods and services made it more difficult to unsubscribe.

“While in most cases signing up is as easy as just a few clicks, most products make it easy to sign up in just a few clicks, unsubscribing can often be much harder and it may be difficult to find the option to cancel or pause your service or delivery,” Dr Grimmer said.

“You might have to call up during business hours or live chat to cancel, those options might not be available on your mobile, they might be buried deep in account settings, or you might be tempted with offers to stay.

“Common traps also include forgetting about annual subscriptions you’re signed up to that can be charged in one hit, missing renewal reminder emails or even paying for the same subscription multiple times.

“While it might seem like a daunting exercise, sitting down to take stock of what you’re signed up to can save you a lot of money, and tools from your bank can help you easily categorise and break down your spend.”

Top tips to wrangle your subscriptions:

  1. Stocktake: write a list of your regular subscriptions, which accounts they come out of, how often they are debited and how much they cost. Your bank’s Spending app should be able to help you categorise them all in one place.
  2. Explore options: pausing a service can help you work out if you still use it, downgrading, choosing a cheaper plan or switching to a shared family or partner plan can help you save money.
  3. De-clutter: cancelling a subscription can usually be done through a platform’s account settings or payment options but may only be possible by calling or live chatting, especially during business hours. Some subscriptions can be cancelled directly through the Apple or Google app store, often with just one click of a button.
  4. Bundle: some platforms offer you the option of bundling multiple subscriptions into one place so you can see and manage them more easily.
  5. Don’t feel guilty: try to resist the temptation of retention offers. Some platforms will offer you discounts, credits or other benefits to stay before you’re able to cancel or pause.
  6. Make a reminder: most platforms will automatically charge you after a free trial period, so set a reminder in your calendar or phone a few days before to re-assess whether you want to keep it.

 

Details:

Data sourced from NAB Consumer Sentiment Q1 2024 survey of more than 2,000 Australians.

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