Personal Finance 101: Pay attention to your automatic subscription payments. They add up and the monthly fees usually amount to a more substantial annual cost than you expect them to. That doesn’t mean subscription services are universally bad, though. Far from it, I have quite a few that dramatically improve my life and are well worth their costs. Here are my current faves:
- Okay, so MealPal’s value is really circumstantial for me. It floats in and out of this list depending on how busy I am. If you’re not familiar, MealPal is a startup that allows you to purchase a set of 12 or 20 take-out lunches (or dinners, but I’ve never used it for that) at reduced prices. Each morning, you use the MealPal website to book your lunch from a selection of predetermined meal options from their partner restaurants. MealPal gives you a take-out number which you use to skip the line and quickly pick up your meal. It’s convenient, stress-free, and dramatically cheaper than buying regular take-out lunch. Of course, it is still a way better idea to just get your shit together, meal plan, and pack your own lunches to bring from home. Lunching the adult way is definitely better for your wallet, is generally better for your health, and is way better for the environment than any version of take-out will be. But sometimes life is just busy. There are times when I know I honestly won’t put in the effort to plan ahead. I should, but I won’t. I’ve been busy most weeknights recently, so this is one of those times and MealPal provides me with a lot of value – I’m at least saving more than I would buying lunch the regular way…. and it also eliminates all the stress of finding time to grocery shop and pack lunches. Click here if you’re also terrible at adulting and want a temporary fix.
- Contrary to what my lunch habits may suggest, I’m actually very conscious of my spending and love to nerd out about personal finance. If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me mention (okay, proselytize…) YNAB at least once. YNAB (or “You Need A Budget”) is, in my opinion, the best personal budgeting tool currently on the market. (And I’m a self-diagnosed maximizer, so just trust me.) It’s similar to Mint.com, but instead of looking back on spending YNAB helps you to look forward and plan for your financial needs. It started as a desktop software and more recently changes over to a web-based subscription service. Paying for a budgeting tool feels counter-intuitive, I know. It’s worth it, though. YNAB has completely changed my life and I would cut out virtually any other “extra” expense before breaking up with Jesse and the rest of the YNAB team. You can try it out for 34 days totally free. If you’re convinced, sign up here so that we both get a free month.
- I can hardly remember a time before Spotify, can you? I used to use the free version, which is fine, but I was quickly converted by one of their “99¢ for three months” campaigns. I find the expense to be completely worthwhile as it allows me to use Spotify as my primary music library. I can listen to all my music at any time, from any of my devices. Increased use helps generate more listening data and improves the weekly recommendations in my Discover Weekly Playlist. These playlists may be my favorite part of Spotify because I find so much new music through them, so increasing relevance is a huge value add for me. Recently I’ve been really wanting to start using Spotify to create more of my own playlists… but I’m not sure where to start. Any tips?