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Watch out for wasted subscriptions!

Watch out for wasted subscriptions!

Category: Money

Updated: 24/03/2016
First Published: 24/03/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

How much do you spend on subscriptions every month? Or, perhaps more importantly, how many of those subscriptions do you actually use? These days there's more to think about than long-forgotten gym memberships, too, with the rise of things like organic veg boxes and beauty subscriptions meaning we're shelling out more than ever.

Figures from show that, once the novelty wears off, those idle subscriptions could be having a serious impact on our bank balances, with the money spent on idle subscriptions now standing at £410m a month, up from £338m in 2015. This means that Brits are each spending an average of £15.24 every single month on subscriptions they're not even using.

That's a lot of money to waste, and with 42% of respondents admitting that they have subscriptions they no longer use or get value from, it's a widespread problem. There's been a notable shift in the most commonly forgotten subscriptions, too: the number of those paying for gym memberships they don't use has dropped from 55% to 50% in the last year, but conversely, the number of people paying out for newer or "fad" subscriptions (such as weight loss diet plans, beauty boxes and cinema membership) has risen by 14% over the same period.

Not only that, but there's been a clear increase in the number of consumers who admit that they signed up for a free trial and forgot to cancel it before they were charged – rising from 44% to 58% in the last year – and a further 7% even admit that they've continued paying for subscriptions they took out for an ex-partner without even realising.

Natasha Rachel Smith, consumer affairs editor for, commented on the findings: "Our research highlights that as more and more services become available to us – this year it's the rise in trendy delivery services – the costs are going unobserved in our bank accounts.

"It's the lack of attention Brits are paying to the value of products being delivered to their door that has resulted in a significant growth in money being unnecessarily wasted on services that are not used. Taking advantage of new sign-up discounts and cashback offers help consumers save substantially on their initial subscription fees, so it's well worth taking advantage of them – provided you're prepared to be a defensive consumer and stay vigilant."

It can be easy to become trapped by subscriptions that'll tie you in for a set period of time, so it's important to be on the ball. If you've signed up for a free trial then make sure to set a reminder in your calendar to cancel it before the deadline – something that 27% admit they don't do – and make sure to check your bank balance for any subscription payments that you've forgotten about.

As Natasha says, "whether it's an old favourite, a new deal or a freebie subscription, it's important to review it regularly, ideally monthly, and ask the following questions: do I still use this service? Does my usage warrant the cost? Has the cost increased? Can I still afford it?" If not, get rid! Your bank balance will thank you for it.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.