Today was the ninth payday of 2016. It’s the 21st payday since I started tracking my finances in YNAB, which means it’s the 21st time I’ve filled out my budget for next month, and the 21st time I’ve been thankful for being a minimalist, because I’m no longer wasting money on things I don’t need.
Earlier this month, I reorganised my categories in YNAB. The biggest change was the formation of a new master category, which I’ve named ‘Subscriptions & Contracts’. If I’d made this category back in January 2015, before I reined in my wasteful spending, I imagine it would contain much more than it does now.
Last month, I briefly considered subscribing to Wrist Society, who send out one new wristwatch to their subscribers each month. Charlie, when he was a little younger than he is now, managed to chew his way through the strap of my watch (a gift for my 18th birthday). I still wear the watch, but it’s hanging on by a thread, and I really could do with replacing it.
However, would I really need a new watch every month? Probably not. I’m not a fan of having unnecessary duplicates; I’d much prefer to have one favourite watch that I wear all the time than a half dozen that rarely come out of their box.
So, no new addition to my ‘Subscriptions & Contracts’, which currently contains five items, cumulatively costing me a grand total of £81.90 per month (technically I suppose I could also include my gym membership and contact lenses here, at an additional £27.59, but I file those under ‘Health and Fitness’ instead).
Only one of these five (my phone contract) is really a necessity, and takes up almost half of that cost. One item, my coffee subscription, is a consumable; I could drop it, but at £12 a month I’d spend about the same amount or more buying coffee as and when I want one. Also, I’ve reduced my subscription from weekly to fortnightly, although admittedly that was more to control my caffeine addiction than my spending.
The other three items are all entertainment: Amazon Prime, Cineworld Unlimited, and Private Eye. Amazon Prime is partly a concession to Sasha, as she pays for our Netflix subscription. We don’t have any other TV subscriptions other than our TV Licence (which I categorise under Accommodation rather than Subscriptions), and even that is just so I can watch Match of the Day. Watching Gary Lineker for an hour a week costs me about £3 a time.
Cineworld I generally get good value for money (although some months I’ve ended up losing money) as it allows me to see as many films as I want for a fixed price. Private Eye is a fortnightly magazine, and at £2.50/month isn’t going to make or break my budget, so I don’t mind the expense. They’re all expenses that I’ve taken on consciously, weighing up the pros and cons. I know it sounds tight, but it saves wasting money that I could put towards things that will make me happier (like travelling).
Subscriptions as whole seem to be gaining steadily in popularity. It’s not just Wrist Society, there’s a whole bunch of periphery subscription services on the market these days (and there must be a market for them, or they wouldn’t exist). Dollar Shave Club sends it’s subscribers razors each month. Lootcrate sends out a box of geek-related items. Barkbox sends a monthly box of dog toys and treats. Don’t get me wrong, I love Charlie and I spoil him, but he doesn’t need a new box of toys every month. We can go to the pet store up the road for that - and he can pick his own! To me, subscription services like these epitomise mindless consumption; the antithesis of minimalism.
Or maybe people just like receiving packages.