One of my consistent life goals over the past several years has been to find ways to simplify my daily life. I like to believe I’ve made good progress on this by keeping my responsibilities to an absolute minimum and saying no to everything that is either non-essential or non-entertaining. Other than keeping good health, showing up to work on time & doing a good-enough job while I’m there, and maintaining relationships with family members and a handful of close friends, I really don’t have anything else that I need to do in an average day. I have all kinds of free time as a result, and I love it.
In order to maintain this level of simplicity, one trap that I tend to avoid is anything that requires a subscription. Services that require a regular, recurring monthly payment send up a huge warning flag. This isn’t to say I have no recurring subscriptions whatsoever; I have one service I pay for outside of my usual monthly utility bills, which is Amazon Prime, but anything that automatically deducts from my checking account at a regular clip gets very close scrutiny to determine whether or not it adds anything positive to my life.
Here are a few common examples of subscriptions I’ve turned down:
Music. An increasing number of my peers get their music via a subscription service like Apple Music, Spotify, or Pandora. Sidestepping this trend was an easy decision for me because despite being a classically trained musician who still plays regularly, I don’t really listen to much music anymore except during long car rides. If I do occasionally hear a song I really like, then I go online, purchase that one song, and own it for life. It’d be different if I spent a lot of my free time listening to music at the house, but I’ve never done that in my adult life and don’t see myself starting anytime soon. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate silence more and more. If you listen to music for hours a day and it’s something you’re passionate about, then one of these services is likely a good deal for you, but for many people, they could easily live without it.
Gym membership. I had one of these growing up and ended up canceling it because after the initial novelty wore off, it was too much of a pain in the ass to get myself to the facility. This is another one of those things that can be a great value if you actually use it (like Mrs. Lite who goes to our local gym consistently), but most people don’t.
I have a good friend who has had a gym membership for several years at a massive discount at around $10 per month due to some computer glitch, but when we worked out the price of how much he is paying for each time he goes, which is not often, the price per use ended up being some laughably high number. It would have been cheaper for him to pay for a series of one day passes per visit. I personally hate the gym and prefer to exercise in solitude out in nature or do body weight workouts in the house whenever a convenient moment comes up, so for me this is an easy choice. In any case, regardless of how good a deal it is, if you don’t use it, it’s a waste.
Entertainment apps. Recently I learned about an app called Inwego (in-we-go). You pay $30 per month, and this gets you access to free tickets for events around your city. While this can be a good deal, I would never even consider paying for a service like this. I like options and flexibility, and being pigeonholed into attending certain events because I have a subconscious need to recoup my $30 per month fee sounds like a terrible way to go. I’d rather choose my activities from an unbiased perspective and pay full price. Same reason why I don’t go shopping during clearance sales; I’d rather pay 100% for one item that I truly love than 25% for four things that I think are okay and probably will get rid of once I fully realize their mediocrity.
By minimizing the amount of things I need to keep track of, I reduce the amount of distractions in my life and keep things as simple and easy as possible. This has been a key contributor to my sustained happiness, and I recommend it to everyone who is plagued with a life cluttered with a bunch of insignificant noise.