Subtracting Subscriptions

Have you noticed how many subscription services there are these days? There’s a thing called “Subscription Fatigue” now. It’s where you feel nickeled and dimed to oblivion. Like a continual dripping of water that wears away stone, you can’t take any more subs. And I don’t want a single one.


It makes sense that having too many subscriptions is overwhelming and irritating. A bunch of $5 and $10 fees every month add up fast. Your wallet is constantly pinged for money, like your phone is constantly dinged with notifications. It’s stressful.

But I’m against subs altogether for certain categories of things. Most subs seem to be for tech stuff online, digital content.

For a service like streaming music or movies, I think that works okay. But my biggest gripe is towards a software product. A big example for me is Adobe Lightroom software.

Sure, Adobe bundles their software product with online photo storage as a service, complicating the matter. Yet call me old-school, I don’t care; I want to pay one time up front for software like the simple days.

Another example: I signed up for Apple’s 3-month free trial of Apple Music. Nice service. But I canceled because it’s still not worth $10 a month in perpetuity for me.

I also don’t like games in the app store that are pay-to-play with in-app purchases. I would much rather just pay up front for the game and then enjoy it! I think many people feel suckered in with a “free” game to try out, get hooked, and then be expected to pay-up fee after fee to keep playing the game. That’s not fun!


The popular subs now are for streaming TV shows or movies: Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, etc. Later this year, Disney and Apple are starting their own streaming TV/Movie services too!

The irony with these and what may be coming is the unbundling and re-bundling of bundles. People got tired of cable TV. You paid a lot for a lot of content when you only really wanted a small portion of that content. So people cried for a-la-carte TV.

Now we’ve kinda got what we wanted. We became “cord-cutters” and can now choose to pay only for a few shows or services that we want. But unbundling all the content is proving to be too much to manage. So the tide turns toward simplifying: re-package all the stuff together into one cohesive thing. And give me a discount for it too!


Here’s my experience of a subscription in the past: You pay a one time fee up front, and then you get new magazine every month.

Contrast that with a present day subscription: make a payment every month, and you get a one-time thing (streaming music, software).

You can say that you do get something new on occasion, like new songs or new features. But it feels different. It feels like you’re getting charged repeatedly for the same thing over and over.

Some subs charge you monthly. But some charge annually. I think the annunal ones feel better because it’s a one-time payment once a year. You only feel the hit once.

But the monthly charging is like constantly feeling the hit. And if you have multiple subs, you really feel the hit. It’s just too much.

Maybe subscriptions are ok in general but need to be done differently.


Monthly payments are a thing. Most people finance a car for example. You agree to pay monthly, but it’s for a limited time instead of forever – there’s an end to the paying, so there’s hope. And when you finish paying, you get to keep the car!

But with monthly subs, there’s no end. You’re stuck, shackled to the service forever, your funds continually seeping from your bank account over and over again. And if you stop paying, because you never “finish,” then you do not get to keep the product or service!

A trickier subject that stems from subscribing to services and stuff is about ownership. Are we paying for a product or a service? Or is it just access to a product or service. Or is it a license? Or is it like a lease? Do we keep what we’ve paid for? Is it more like renting than buying?

Anyways, those are some random rants against subscriptions. I don’t care for them. Hopefully they’ll be like a passing fad.


Where do you stand on subscriptions? Do you feel like you’ve got too many? Leave feedback in the comments. Or shoot me some email. Take care.

2 thoughts on “Subtracting Subscriptions

  1. Great post, Jason. I also don’t like subscriptions and think it’s getting a bit out of hand, especially for software, as you point out.

    I pay one subscription for software, and I don’t really like to, but I understand the company’s point: they are continually keeping up with OS changes and adding features, and they need consistent revenue. But, I’d much rather buy version 1.0, and then pay to upgrade to 2.0, and so one (like in the old days). Since, for this particular app, I’d always upgrade anyway, I guess it’s a wash. But it still feels weird.

    I do have a few “entertainment” subscriptions: Hulu, Apple Music, etc., but for those, at least I feel that I really am paying for a service, like renting a movie or CD.

    Anyway, I’m with you on not liking all this “keep paying forever” approach. I, too, hope it changes to something else, but am not sure what. I doubt it will go back to the “old days.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rob. On this post, I feel like I was less organized, more rambling, than I’d like. I think the crux is about the *feeling* of perpetual payments because you never “pay off” your purchase. Moreover, we don’t buy anything but access to a service. But I digress…
      The funny thing is, this post was in draft for a long time, then after it was scheduled, I read the Ulysses Medium post detailing why they switched to a sub!! So……I meant to update today’s post with that new perspective…but my scheduled post slipped out the door while I was busy. So…..I have a follow up post on my brain accounting for the Ulysses developer view on subs…..stay tuned!

      Liked by 1 person

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