How to Save Money on Subscriptions With Tiller and Google Sheets

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Around 50% of Americans get at least some of their TV fix from online streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Perhaps you have subscriptions to all three. Which one do you use the most? How much money are you sinking into these services each year? Are you also still paying for cable TV on top of these streaming video services?

Perhaps you also have a monthly subscription to a streaming music service like Spotify or Pandora. You might even have an online newspaper subscription automatically withdrawing money from your checking account every month.

Luckily, if you use Tiller, you’re aware when you’re charged subscription fees because you’re categorizing the expense every month. You might say to yourself, “Oh there’s the Netflix subscription again. I’ll file that under “Online Subscriptions” along with Hulu and Spotify.”

At that point, perhaps you consider, “Am I really even using this service? Does it add value to my life?” The question might come up simply because you’re taking the time to notice where that $11.99 is going. Say you keep the subscription for a year. That’s $143. That chunk could have been allocated to saving for your next vacation or set aside for upgrades to the house.

What about the rest of them?

If you’re curious to know just how much you’re spending on recurring discretionary spending like this, here are a few easy ways to use Tiller to help you find out.

Quick and Dirty Sort

The quickest way to get an idea of how much you’re spending on a recurring subscription is to sort the Tiller Transactions sheet by the Description column. From there you can select the amount data for all Transactions that match descriptions for your subscriptions.

In the bottom right of the Google Sheet you’ll likely see the SUM in a small box. If you don’t see SUM you can click this box to toggle between the calculation options like count, sum, average, and others. Do this one for each subscription to start building the picture of the cost of these services.

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Use Categories and Pivots to Get a Quick Total of Your Online Subscription Spending

One method you can use to get a quick total of your online subscription spending is to use categories and a pivot table. If you’re using the Tiller Budget template you could have a group for “Online Subscriptions” and then create a category for each one like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify.

If you’ve been categorizing your Transactions with Tiller for a while using a category structure like this you already have the data you need. If you’re just getting started or want to update your existing categories a quick way to do this is to sort by the Description column on your Transactions sheet and then use the quick categorizing method to quickly fill or update your categories.

Finally, you can create a monthly spending pivot table using these steps. Right away you’ll see how much you’ve spent on these subscriptions so far this year, or for as long as you’ve been using Tiller, in the Grand Total column. You may also learn something about your spending in other categories as well!

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Use Tags

Tags are another method you can use to get insights around your recurring monthly online subscription costs. You’ll first need to follow the steps in this help article to set up the tags capability in any of your Tiller spreadsheets. As you’re entering those first few tags to get the sheet working think about how you want to tag these recurring expenses.

There are a couple methods that we find useful:

  • Use a single tag such as “recurring online” to see the sum of all your online subscriptions on the Tags sheet.
  • Alternatively, use multiple tags on a single transaction to slice and dice the data a couple different ways. Use the subscription title as a tag like “Netflix” and then also tag it using “yes” or “no” to indicate whether or not you’re actually using the subscription.
  • Review the Tags sheet to see how much money you’re spending on subscriptions you’re not using and also get a break down of exactly how much you’re spending on each one individually.
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Trimming Down Online Subscriptions

Now you can quickly see how much you’re spending on online subscriptions. You have the power to cancel (or keep) any of them. There are even apps out there, like one that Lauren Greutman recommends called Trim, to help you cancel your unused subscriptions with a single text.