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Rocket Money Saved Me $400 on Useless Subscriptions. Here’s How

Stop paying for subscriptions you don't even use. This budgeting app can help you cancel them.

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If you’ve ever lost money on a subscription you’re not using, you’re not alone. In a recent CNET survey, nearly half (48%) of respondents reported forgetting to cancel a free trial or paid subscription, such as streaming services, subscription boxes and memberships to big box retailers. And with respondents paying an average of $91 a month on subscription services, that can add up to a lot of money for something you’re getting no value from.

Useless subscriptions can drain your budget, taking away money you could put toward other financial goals, like building an emergency fund, paying off debt or saving for retirement. Fortunately, budgeting apps like Rocket Money make it easier to spot and cancel subscriptions you’re wasting money on. I recently tested Rocket’s subscription cancellation service and was shocked to find out how much I was overspending on monthly subscriptions. Here’s how the process worked -- and how much it saved me.

Rocket Money is an easy-to-use budgeting app that saved me over $400 in 15 minutes on subscriptions I wasn’t using.

In 15 minutes, Rocket Money saved me over $400 

Rocket Money is a budgeting app that monitors your income and expenses, helps you set savings goals and tracks all your subscriptions in one place, whether you use the free or paid version. It’s also my pick for the best Mint replacement app and recently won CNET’s Editors’ Choice award. Rocket Money’s paid version -- which costs $4 to $12 a month -- can also find and cancel some subscriptions for you.

You can try this service by navigating to the Recurring tab on the app menu. You’ll see subscriptions coming due in the next seven days, ones coming due later and how much you spend on these subscriptions in a year.

The first thing I noticed was that my subscription to HGTV Magazine, which costs $50 for a year, was up for renewal in four days. Given the enormous pile of back issues I’ve accumulated but not yet read, canceling this subscription was a no-brainer.

Rocket Money gave me two options: The app could cancel this subscription for me, or I could call the number they provided to cancel it myself.

I chose to have them do it for me. The app asked for some basic information -- including my name, billing address and the reason I wanted to cancel -- and then confirmed that they were working on it.

The process was fairly painless, but I have one complaint. I didn’t know until after I’d submitted my cancellation request that it could take two to seven days for Rocket Money to complete the cancellation -- I found out from the popup confirmation I received after submitting. Fortunately, I was able to respond quickly to the email confirmation Rocket sent me, and I received a response within minutes from a customer support rep who said they’d fast-track my cancellation. The next business day, they’d canceled my subscription.

I was hooked. What else was I spending money on without realizing it? I reviewed my other subscriptions, and identified a handful I no longer needed:

  • HP Instant Ink: $4.34 per month (for a printer I don’t even have anymore)
  • New York Times Digital: $4 per month (the number of free articles I get is usually enough for me)
  • WallStreet Journal: $4 per month (same as above)
  • Pandora: $10 per month (a recent switch to Amazon Prime Unlimited made this service unnecessary)
  • Spotify: $10 per month (same as above)

I’ll admit I barely noticed these small amounts when they hit my bank account each month. I’d grouped them under “Miscellaneous” in my budget and never really thought about them since that category tended to stay within my spending goals. But viewing them all grouped together, it was easy to see how quickly they could drain my budget.

By canceling these subscriptions, I saved myself $32.32 per month going forward, for a total annual savings of $387.84. Add that to the savings on my HGTV Magazine subscription, and that’s an extra $437.81 in my pocket annually.

What’s nice is that, even though I only installed the app a few months ago, Rocket Money pulled in subscriptions from years past, allowing me to catch ones that were coming due even though I hadn’t paid for them since installing the app.

In total, reviewing my subscriptions and having Rocket Money cancel six of them took me about 15 minutes. Not bad to get over $400 in savings.

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Does Rocket Money cancel subscriptions for free?

Rocket Money’s free version only shows you your subscriptions -- it won’t cancel them for you. To access this service, you’ll need to pay $4 to $12 per month for the paid version. You choose your amount, and you’ll enjoy the same features however much you pay.

Since I already have Rocket Premium, this wasn’t an issue for me. But if you don’t want to pay extra for the convenience of having Rocket cancel your subscriptions for you, you could just as easily use the free version to identify your subscriptions and then cancel them yourself.

Also, if you decide to use its bill negotiation service which can help lower your monthly costs, but don’t cancel them, you’ll pay 30% to 60% of your first year’s savings if the service is able to save you money.

Other ways to avoid overspending on subscriptions

I used Rocket Money to trim my subscription costs because it’s the budgeting app I use and I’d rather save a few minutes, especially if it doesn’t cost me anything extra. But you can cancel them yourself if you don’t mind taking the time to call a customer service line or log into your online account. These tips can help you maximize your savings:

  • Note your renewal dates. Whenever you sign up for a new service, note when it’s due to renew. Then, set a reminder on your calendar for the week before so you can decide if it’s worth renewing and cancel if not. If you sign up for a free trial, use a virtual card to make canceling a breeze.
  • Review your budget regularly. Going over your budget on a weekly basis can help you spot subscription charges that have already hit your account and cancel them before they cost you more. But don’t just take a cursory glance -- look at each transaction, even the minor ones. I was keeping a general eye on my spending, but I wasn’t always doing it line by line to evaluate if each expense was truly worth it.
  • Rotate your streaming services. You can only watch so much content in a month. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to keep my subscription costs down is to only subscribe to one streaming service at a time. For example, when one of the shows I love dropped its new season on HBO’s Max, I canceled my Netflix subscription and signed up for a month of Max. I’ll watch everything that interests me on Max before the month is up, and if I’ve gotten all I can from it, I’ll cancel and move on to another service.
  • Take advantage of complimentary subscriptions. Some subscriptions give you free access to other services. For instance, Walmart Plus members get a free Paramount Plus subscription. Amazon Prime membership comes with perks like a free Amazon Music subscription and a free year of Grubhub Plus. Take a look at your existing subscriptions to see if they offer any free perks you can take advantage of.
  • Visit your local library. Many library systems offer free access to things like newspapers, magazines and more. Check out your local library to see what you can enjoy for free.
  • Threaten to cancel. Sometimes, you can score a discount by calling customer service and saying you’d like to cancel your subscription. It won’t always work, but it can’t hurt to try.
Kelly is an editor for CNET Money focusing on banking. She has over 10 years of experience in personal finance and previously wrote for CBS MoneyWatch covering banking, investing, insurance and home equity products. She is passionate about arming consumers with the tools they need to take control of their financial lives. In her free time, she enjoys binging podcasts, scouring thrift stores for unique home décor and spoiling the heck out of her dogs.
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