When it comes to minimalism, we often think about decluttering our homes, but rarely do we think about financial clutter.
You know you have financial clutter when just like overstuffed closets, your money is so out of control you can no longer tell what’s incoming or what’s outgoing. And it feels so overwhelming to sort through that you put it off for another day, only to become more stressed that money seems to be getting sucked into a void.
Recently, I noticed my money was disappearing faster than I was receiving it, so I finally put aside some time to log into my bank and see what was going on.
The results were shocking.
Every month, 8 subscriptions were coming out, 7 of which I wasn’t even using. Some of them I didn’t even remember signing up for, others I had signed up for a free trial only to forget. There was also a frightening amount of cafe visits because cosy cafes and Chai Lattes are a huge weakness of mine.
Nowadays we have so many services which are subscription-based, and before you know it, you’ve got more subscriptions coming out of your bank than you have fingers.
As a gamer, I was subscribed to more gaming services than I could ever possibly manage, my fantasy self convincing me I had the time and energy to play all of them.
There’s also a never-ending choice of comforts to indulge in all around us, all promising they’ll make us happier while emptying our wallets even further.
I understand what a privilege it is in the current climate to have enough money for subscriptions and luxuries, but that money could be far better spent on helping others or going towards something meaningful. The guilt was immense, but rather than beat myself up about it, I’ve been using that guilt to guide me and to mindfully manage the services I do use.
If you’re feeling over-subscribed, here’s 5 simple steps you can take to gain back control.
- Put aside a good block of time to access a record of your finances and comb through them ruthlessly. It can take longer than you think, especially if you’re trying to work out where payments have come from. Names on bank statements aren’t always clear, especially if they use acronyms.
- Note down all of your incoming, then note down all of your regular monthly outgoings. You can do this in an Excel document or a simple note format. I simply noted mine down in a notepad.
- Consider if you really need everything that’s outgoing. Are you spending enough time watching Netflix to stay subscribed? Do you really need 4 gaming service subscriptions? (That’s how many I had going!). Do you use that app anymore? How about that daily Latte splurge?
- Instantly cut down the ones you don’t want or need. Don’t leave it until tomorrow.
- Going forwards, make yourself some guidelines to follow so you remain in control. Eg. No more than two entertainment subscriptions at once. No more careless signing up to free trials. If you do sign up to a free trial, make sure you untick the option to auto-subscribe; most companies have this option.
- Bonus – enjoy your savings and bask in the feeling of lightness as the weight of overwhelm disperses from your body and mind.