From time to time it pays to take stock of your personal financial situation, and figure out whether the accounts, services and subscriptions that you signed up for in the past are still in your best interests. Are they still a good deal and do they still enhance our lives, or have they become dead money sucking zombie accounts?
Today let’s look at some of the accounts, services and subscriptions that you should consider giving the axe to when they become soulless shells of their former selves.
There are times when we sign up for certain subscription services because at the time they seemed like a good idea. Things like Netflix, Amazon Prime or a subscription to cable TV can fill our hours with mindless entertainment, but what to do when the accounts aren’t being used to their full potential any longer? It’s time to take them out!
Some subscriptions to think about canceling when they’ve outlived their usefulness:
- Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription: When you first got your Netflix account it was saving you money from the cost of your local rental store, but you don’t watch many movies these days. You’re paying the money but getting no benefit. Time to give it the axe!
- Cable or satellite TV: You used to have several favorite shows that you wanted to watch on cable TV, but they’ve since been canceled. Time to cancel the subscription as well!
- Magazine subscriptions: You used to love reading that People magazine, but you don’t care anymore what Kim Kardashian is doing in her spare time. Time to give it the boot.
- Newspaper subscriptions: Does anyone read newspapers anymore when you can get it for free online?
- Credit monitoring: While there may be a few situations where you’d want to pay for monthly credit monitoring, you can usually do it on your own for much less cost. In fact, Credit Sesame actually offers a free credit monitoring service now! Cancel the monthly fee.
- Sports subscriptions: Have a subscription to MLB Gameday Audio, or to the NFL Red Zone package – but never actually use it? Cancel it before it burns a hole in your pocket!
- Gaming subscriptions: Can’t find time for killing zombies or exploring new worlds these days? Time to let that Xbox Live account lapse.
I’ve had bank accounts that I signed up for years before, but have stopped using long ago. The problem is that often dormant un-cancelled bank accounts can end up levying fees without you realizing. Not only that, if someone were to get a hold of your account information they may be able to use that un-dead account to their advantage (especially if it’s a credit card). You may never even know if you no longer receive the statements.
You’re better off just killing the account in most cases, and moving on with your life. There may be a few cases where you might want to keep a dormant account, especially if you’re trying to build credit – but often credit card companies will cancel an unused account anyway.
Types of accounts to cancel before they rise from the dead to harm you:
- Checking or savings accounts: I had an old checking account sitting dormant for years before I canceled it. Fees had eaten up what little balance it had left.
- Credit card accounts: Cancel the credit cards in order to limit identity fraud risks, and to get rid of another credit temptation.
- Brokerage accounts: Have more than one brokerage account, or an account with some poor fees and investments? Cancel the account and consolidate it with another one.
- P2P lending accounts: Have a bunch of cash sitting dormant in your P2P lending account? Either reinvest the money or cancel it!
There are times when a service that we used to know and love has lost their heart, and have now become soulless husks, no longer working for our best interests. It may be time to cut the cord and move on. Some services to kill or find new ones:
- Cell or land-line phone service: Sometimes we overpay for cell service we don’t need, when we could move to a pre-paid phone service and pay less for the same service. Same goes for the landline, often we could be doing VOIP home phone service (like Ooma) for less.
- Internet: We often sign up for service at a reduced cost, but then fail to revisit it when the introductory price goes up. We recently revisited our DSL rate and got a reduction of almost $264/year! Revisit your Internet and switch if it makes sense!
- Insurance: Sometimes insurance costs can get out of control without us realizing it. A while back I saved $1100+ when I switched auto insurance providers. Kill the old coverage and switch to something new!
- Mortgage: If you haven’t looked at mortgage rates recently it may be time to look into refinancing. Rates are at their lowest points in decades and you can save a ton by offing the old mortgage and getting into a new loan.
- Mortgage insurance: If you had to pay private mortgage insurance when you got your loan, but you’ve now got 20% equity, it may be time to get that coverage removed from your monthly mortgage payment, the payment and taxes alone are expensive enough!
- Gym memberships: Memberships at the gym have nasty way of sticking around for months or years, despite never having been used. Cancel the membership, and look into more affordable and convenient workout options.
Killing Money Grubbing Zombie Accounts Will Save You… Money
Zombie accounts have a way of lying dormant and then sneaking up on us to cause us harm through increased fees, wasted subscription costs and through outright identity fraud. In most cases you’re better off just taking the axe to your old un-dead accounts, and moving on with your life.
Do you have any old soulless undead money sucking accounts or services? Have you canceled them yet? What other accounts do you think people should consider canceling?
Philip Taylor says
This is great advice, Pete. With our lives getting more busy every day it’s easy to let these things get out of control (like Zombies!). I’m totally into The Walking Dead series, so I found this very entertaining. Stay safe out there.
Peter Anderson says
It is easy to let these things sneak up on us. You just gotta find the time at some point.:)
I have yet to check out the Walking Dead – although it’s on my list of shows to check out for sure. I have a morbid curiosity about the zombie shows/movies.
Tim @ Faith and Finance says
Great hook, Peter. I had to read how you were going to tie in Zombies to the article (and you did a great job!).
I recently cancelled a second cell phone line saving us about $20 a month. We also closed out an old bank account that had a $4.50 monthly fee for inactivity. I did review other subscriptions (like Amazon Prime) but decided to keep it because we use it enough.
Peter Anderson says
Those old bank accounts are easy to forget sometimes. Like an old account I had at one bank, it had a small balance that mysteriously disappeared due to monthly inactivity fees. By the time I closed it the balance was basically gone.
Roger @ The Chicago Financial Planner says
Great post, both entertaining and excellent food for thought. Off to “shoot” some Zombies now.
Peter Anderson says
Thanks, I had fun with this one! Happy hunting!
Edward Antrobus says
There are different coupons in the newspaper inserts than there are online, which is why I still get the Sunday paper.
ING Direct Canada Fan says
I have also cancelled netflix, at the beggining it seemed like a good idea, however I found that I was not watching any movies ( wife factor ). Let me explain, my wife speaks french and spanish ( I am from Canada ) and every time I put a movie she would complain about the movie not being in French.
The other thing I cancelled was the home phone line, now I am saving 360 dollars a year. I am now using freephoneline.ca and I got the ATA for 99 dollars and forget about the bill.
I also downgraded my internet, I spend my time in blogs and newspapers so I dont need a lightning speed. Now thanks to that I am saving 15 a month or 180 a year.
I also switched my bank accounts to ING Direct Canada and I am savin 9.99 in monthly fees, which is 120 dollars a year.
In total with all those 4 little changes I am saving 95 ( Netflix ) + 360 ( Home phone ) + 180 ( Downgraded internet ) + 120 ( Switched to ING Direct Canada ) = 755 a year! :)
Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals says
Great post! You went far beyond what I expected you to cover here. I’m pretty good about using what I pay for, but you’ve inspired me to take a closer look and make sure that there are no zombies in my budget!
Free To Pursue says
Nice post Peter. I can vouch for the benefit of looking at service bills and renegotiating. My family is saving $1,214 (annualized) this week by making changes to our home insurance and telecommunications services. We can do a LOT with over $1,200!
I like that you have focused on “dead accounts” as well. I’ll be looking at my credit report and axing what I no longer use. Thanks for the nudge.
Peter Anderson says
We saved almost $850/year when we changed our homeowner’s and auto insurance in one fell swoop a year or more ago. If you factor in how we also changed our home phone to a VOIP provider as well, we ended up saving almost $250 in the first year, about $450/year every year after!
If you just search around and give the axe to services you don’t need – and add ones that won’t rise up and eat you alive later with fees – you’ll be all good!
Hilarious and creative spin on a great reminder. Thanks!