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We’ve all seen the ads online and heard them on our favorite podcasts, too – many of us are paying a lot of money for subscriptions. And this includes subscriptions for services we barely use! Apps and online services are eager to help us trim our bloated personal or professional budgets. How does this extend to associations? Well, associations – just like a household with seven streaming platforms – may be overextending themselves when it comes to subscriptions. It could be that your association is spending money on a subscription that you no longer use or barely use. 

With rumblings of a possible recession in 2023, many people and organizations are thinking about smarter ways to operate, including some belt-tightening. For more cost-effective household operations, some people may opt to trim down their streaming subscriptions. At some point, it’s hard to keep up with all the excellent content. From Disney+ to Netflix to Peacock to Hulu – who has the time to watch it all? 

Similarly, associations need to optimize their finances and focus on getting the most bang for their buck regarding subscriptions. 

How to Streamline Subscriptions 

Streamlining subscriptions has never been easier. Thankfully, it’s become a common problem for many, so solutions are ample. Keeping track of your subscriptions is the first line of attack, and that goes for personal and professional subscriptions. Knowing what you’re subscribed to is comparable to knowing how much money you have in your checking account – you need a jumping-off point from which to go. You won’t know what to trim if you don’t know what you’re subscribed to, and you won’t know how much you can safely spend within your budget unless you know how much is in your checking account. 

Some subscription services are also clever in offering a free trial but then automatically signing you up for the paid version once the trial is over. So, you may be subscribed to something that you’re not even aware of and continuing to pay for it, too.  

Several different apps can help a consumer or association to identify recurring payments made so you can easily see where your money is going and what you’re subscribed to. Wired magazine outlines several options of apps that identify your existing subscriptions. These apps include Truebill, DoNotPay, Trim and more.   

How to Identify Which Subscriptions Add Value

Many of us suffer from what Money magazine deemed “subscription overload.” However, subscriptions that add value to your personal and professional life are those which, to you, may feel like a bargain. Don’t tell Apple Music I’m saying this, but I’d pay over double the current cost of a monthly subscription. I use my Apple Music app every day, nearly all day. To me, as someone who loves music deeply, it boggles the mind that something which brings me so much joy could be priced so low. 

Related: 6 Best Professional Development Resources for Association Pros Learn More >

Using this Apple Music example, turn the lens on the subscriptions you have or your association has, and ask yourself: 

  • How often do I use this subscription?
  • Would I pay more for it, or less for it? (If you’d pay more – that indicates its value to you.)
  • Is this subscription relevant to my life/the organization? 
  • Will I be content with having spent X number of dollars per year on this subscription in the future? (Or will I regret spending that amount on this?
  • Can this subscription be viewed as an investment? (i.e. An online-learning subscription?) 

Answering the above questions for various subscriptions can help you clarify what should stay and what should go. 

Useful Subscriptions for Associations 

Different associations require different subscriptions, depending upon the organization’s unique goals and functions. However, there are some subscriptions that can broadly benefit a variety of different organizations: 

  • LinkedIn Learning is a learning subscription that’s useful to businesses, professionals, and associations. A subscription offers over 16,000 expert-led courses to enhance your organization or career. 
  • Grammarly Premium is the deluxe version of Grammarly, a free, online writing tool that helps to elevate your writing. This subscription could be a useful one, particularly for associations that rely heavily on written communication. 
  • MasterClass is everyone’s favorite online learning portal where you can spot your most-loved celebrity. People like ballerina Misty Copeland, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, bestselling author Dan Brown, and even actor Samuel L. Jackson are all instructors featured on the platform. Instructors across a broad range of industries teach classes on public speaking, investing, technology, creative writing, government, and more. 

Regardless of which subscriptions you or your association subscribe to, it’s important to make an informed decision specific to your needs. Only you know the “right” number of subscriptions for you. But if you find yourself barely using one or more subscriptions or feeling like you’re tossing money down the drain, it may be time to cancel those subscriptions for good and focus on the ones that offer the most value. 

Anne McCarthy
Post by Anne McCarthy
December 8, 2022
Anne McCarthy is a freelance journalist who reports on tech and culture. She is a contributing writer to the BBC, The Guardian, WIRED, Teen Vogue, Ms. Magazine, and more.