QoD: How much do Americans spend monthly on subscriptions?

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May 15, 2019
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Question of the Day, Budgeting, Behavioral Finance

Answer: $237 a month

Questions:

  • Have you ever signed up for a monthly subscription?
    • If so, what do you subscribe to and how much do you pay?
    • If not, do you know any family members who have subscriptions (who knows, maybe you even use their Netflix account:)
  • Have you ever heard someone complain about signing up for a subscription that they didn't even know about? What happened? 
  • The research found that 84% of Americans underestimate how much they spend every month in subscriptions? How can this be possible? 
  • Why do you think businesses are increasingly trying to sell their products on a subscription basis? 

Here's the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (WSJ; subscription required)

Say hello to the subscription economy, where every business—and I mean every business—moves toward billing you monthly or yearly. That shirt you’re wearing? There’s a subscription for that. Toilet paper? Yep. Razors? A billion-dollar business. A doorbell? Ding dong!

The charges regularly hitting our credit cards have expanded far beyond video and music-streaming services and, yes, newspapers. The average American pays $237 a month for subscription services, according to a July 2018 report from West Monroe Partners.

Eighty-four percent of Americans also completely underestimate how much they spend every month, according to the report.

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One way to avoid losing track of your subscriptions is to review your credit card statement. Here's an NGPF Fine Print to teach your students how to interpret this statement. 

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.