How The Subscription Economy Quietly Pokes Holes in Your Financial Boat

Leigh Kellogg
5 min readFeb 10, 2023


I told my husband that I was going to make a custom t-shirt that just read, “In this economy?” He laughed, but this is literally my answer for every financial question in our household. And it’s fair. The economy is super weird right now.

Interest rates are at record highs. Inflation is high but decreasing. The tech industry is laying off 100’s of thousands of employees and we are only in February. Plus eggs!

This whole thing is a mess, and it has caused me to sit down and really think about and re-evaluate our family’s finances. Every few years, it’s become a best practice for us to do this to figure out where our money is going and how to better manage it. Today, I’m going to share my approach, and detail out how I do this.

Start With a 3 Month Audit

During this part of the process, you will need to look at every point of your financial system where you spend money. This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, and any and all credit cards. I generally like to pull down a 3 month average and look at the categories that are getting the most spending. The good news is that most of these companies now offer visualizations and charts that do this for you. If they don’t, then a company like Rocket Money costs $7 bucks a month and does this. It can pull in everything. It’s really an incredible financial tool. 10/10.

For example, for us travel was a big one last year. We were basically trying to make up for 2–3 years of being stuck at home. This is discretionary and can be better managed, but food costs are different. We gotta eat! But food delivery fees are discretionary, and better managing driving to get takeout helps to reduce this kind of cost immensely.

Question to answer: What discretionary categories (outside of bills / utilities) are eating the majority of remaining monthly money?

Prioritize What Can Be Changed Based on Values

As you are reviewing all of the categories of spending there are some natural revelations that usually happen. For us, I saw that travel, food costs (specifically eating out and delivery), Amazon!, and runaway subscriptions were really poking holes in our financial boat. Let’s come back to travel and food costs and dig into Amazon and subscriptions.

Again, Rocket Money is a great too for this because they actually have a tab that summarizes your monthly renewals. There were a lot of runaway subscriptions I didn’t even realize we still had. And some that could definitely be refined. $7.99, $15, $35 bucks here and there doesn’t sound like much but it really adds up over the course of a month. Multiply it times 12 and you really start to see the impact.

And some of the subscription costs were duplicative (i.e. Hulu+, Disney+, Netflix, etc) I mean, do we really have the time for all that TV? And some were tech subscriptions that my husband had from previous jobs! A lot of these could be cancelled.

Amazon is another one that quickly gets away from you. It’s such an easy click and you lose track of the actual monthly costs and how they build. With multiple family members accessing the same account, it becomes even easier to spend more than necessary.

This part of the process takes time, but shows you where the tiny holes in the boat are and helps you see what you can trim, and what you’re not willing to.

Travel as referenced above becomes something our family can streamline but is still something that matters to us. It’s a values thing. Our family values experiences so we want to make sure we still get those.

Food is also a big one for us. We love exploring and eating together. We can use a meal plan more regularly and spend the time cooking together at home. We can plan for lunches at home too. We can look into more affordable stores. But we will continue to spend on quality to make sure we are eating healthfully and eating what we love. We can rely less on delivery and drive to get the meal. While that’s more cumbersome, it’s a reasonable compromise.

Question to answer: What categories are we willing to sacrifice and which are non-negotiable?

Do The Work

This is the part that isn’t as fun, but yields the greatest impact. This is the part where you sit down and contact all of the company subscriptions that you no longer need and cancel them. Real talk, this step reduced our monthly subscription costs by 2/3rds.

I also took an inventory of our pantry to see what we had and how we could incorporate it into our meal planning to save in coming weeks. I researched new grocery stores like Aldi that have amazing selections but aren’t as marked up as grocery stores like Publix right now. I built a meal planning sheet that included lunch planning, and set a weekly budget for eating out. It’s a bit more planning and work on a Saturday morning but the savings are huge.

I also disconnected our Amazon account from our credit card and linked it to our regular utilities account. I set a budget. This ensures we see costs more regularly, and don’t fall as much victim to the out of sight out of mind problem.

Question to answer: What are the specific and tangible actions I can take to reduce the costs I prioritized in step 2?

In Conclusion

This financial exercise is super valuable, but it does take time. An approach like this is two fold in its benefits. It helps in the interim managing increased cost of living AND it also helps with future retirement planning and saving for “the fun stuff.”

I hope you’ve found this approach helpful. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any follow ups or specific questions I didn’t cover.



Leigh Kellogg

Passions include momming, learning, making, and writing. Life motto: Question everything. Website: Social: