“During this crisis we are offering our services FREE. Just type in your information and begin your free trial as we weather this storm together”.
These are words that many customers have heard over the last several days as the nation, and the world at large, grapple with COVID-19. To many this is a refreshing change of pace. Companies rushing to ease the financial burden of us, the poor victims of Corona. While I don’t mean to ruin anyone’s parade, and while I am sure some people are doing this for altruistic reasons, there lies a greater danger here for consumers; Vampire Debt.
Vampire Debt is a term coined here at Next Step Marketing back in 2017. It refers to all of the expenses that someone accrues overtime by not keeping track of their digital subscriptions and various auto-payments our modern world has set up “for your convenience”. Today we wanted to remind readers of this issue they face, and how to help curb it in these uncertain times.
Where then to begin? Well, if you are fortunate enough to work a job that is allowing you to work from home there is good news; you have plenty of time to begin the process. First, we need to identify the depth of our spending and diagnose the damage. Begin with these four essential questions:
Now that the services and fees have been accounted for they can be categorized. What services do I need? What have I not accessed in months? Though I don’t access it regularly, is its service more cost effective to keep long-term? If it is something critical to daily operations of your business or personal life, label it as “Keep”, but if it a non-essential (that also provides no personal benefit) then label it as “Cancel”.
Lastly comes consolidation. Once everything has been placed into the “Keep” or “Cancel” columns, it is time to stop the financial suck and cancel those services. Then, take the remaining services still in use and redistribute how they are paid for. Try and keep all subscriptions and recurring fees onto as few payment methods as possible.
How, then, does this apply to COVID-19? Simple.
As more and more service providers open their packages, some may be requesting card information, or may even have little disclaimers of when these services will no longer be free. As consumers that are being mindful of spending, keep track of these new additions. If a service needs a card, put it on the card already being used for these sorts of fees. Write down on your chart of services when their free version will expire, so you can later cancel the subscription before a fee occurs. And of course, ask the same 4 questions after a month of isolation to make sure you are still needing and using these services.
In these times it is important that we make sure we are as prepared and careful as we can be. This should include our finances and making sure we have a firm grip on how and where we are spending.
Stay safe, and thank you.