Set and forget … are you paying for services you don’t use?

The nature of direct debits means you can lose track of who you are paying and when.

Set and forget … are you paying for services you don’t use?

Direct debits can be a convenient way to pay your bills, but they take the control of making payments away from you. 

Whether it be subscriptions to gyms, magazines, dating sites, websites, or any services that we rarely use, these can be easy ways to waste money.

Discovering long-forgotten payments can be quite a common experience, whether it be a direct debit to a gym that you no longer attend or a zoo that you no longer even live near.

You should do an audit of your bank and credit-card statements every 12 months to check if you are paying for things you no longer need.

Some of your regular payments will be quarterly, bi-annual or yearly, so it is important to check all your monthly statements over the past 12 months.

Here are some of the items you may want to investigate when you are doing your audit:

  • unused gym memberships
  • unused streaming services (Netflix, Spotify, Stan, etc)
  • unread magazine subscriptions
  • unread newspaper subscriptions
  • old dating site memberships
  • unused club memberships (golf, tennis, bowls, etc)
  • insurance for items you no longer have in your possession
  • unwanted charity direct debits.

The rise of online subscription services means more people are using direct-debit services, which make it easy to forget about these payments when you no longer use the service.

Online streaming services such as Netflix offer free trial periods for services, but they require a credit-card number on sign-up. In these situations when the free trial ends, the billing starts regardless of whether you have chosen to continue with the subscription or not.

Those who don’t cancel the service before the free trial period ends, will usually be billed for the full month before being able to cancel and, if there are any issues, it can be difficult to get support.

If you do have difficulty contacting a service provider to cancel a subscription, you should send an explicit instruction to the company to cancel the arrangement and forward a copy to your bank or financial institution. By doing this, if the debits continue to be taken out of your account you can request that your credit-card provider reverse the unauthorised transaction.

What services have your discovered that you have been paying for without using?

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    17th Sep 2019
    I never set up automatic debits. All bills are checked for whether still needed or veracity and then paid
    17th Sep 2019
    Absolutely correct.

    Nothing is automatic. No organisation should be trusted with control of your money, or anything else. Especially the Government (can that be described as an "organisation" ??).

    17th Sep 2019
    I have noticed a lot of energy providers are demanding direct debit set up. I bypass them.
    Horace Cope
    17th Sep 2019
    We travel a bit so direct debit is an ideal way to pay utilities. We also get paper bills which can be checked when they arrive or when we return home. We also check bank statements for any unauthorised transactions. Perhaps it's because we were brought up to make these checks that we still do but our children don't seem to look too closely at accounts and I wonder if it's a generational thing.
    17th Sep 2019
    I use direct debits for utilities and some charitable donations. So convenient. I am very aware of what I am paying and how much I am paying. Cannot understand how anyone could 'forget' any outgoings. I can check my bank activity as often as I choose, it is all on-line. I have my budget on an Excel spreadsheet and keep track of my income, what I spend, where I spend and my future obligations (ie estimates of car rego and insurance, council rates, utilities, tax liability etc). It is not hard, and I have plenty of time on my hands.
    22nd Sep 2019
    Same here, how can people "forget" payments that are going out. It's little wonder people end up in a financial mess.

    I look at my accounts everyday to see what transactions have gone through to be sure nothing untoward has happened.

    I use direct debits for everything I can, so much easier never having to worry about paying, especially if you're away from home for any reason for extended times.
    Chris G
    17th Sep 2019
    Utilities & health insurance are direct debited on a fortnightly basis. It not only eases the burden, but avoids the unnecessary overdue fee if we are travelling.
    17th Sep 2019
    There is a reason that organizations like and prefer automatic debits. That reason is the obvious answer.
    17th Sep 2019
    I organise scheduled payments through my bank who pay on the due date, without charge to me for certain things but pay the major bills on the due day by BPay, through my bank again without charge, having put the date into the calendar in my computer which gives me a reminder on the date.
    I have been doing this for years now without any problem and with full control as well as keeping track of expenditures.
    17th Sep 2019
    Direct debit has it's place When a person is not well has to pay electricity, Phone ,internet etc essential It is good that is taken care of. Ofcours has to check it regularly on line
    18th Sep 2019
    I was direct debiting to a company and wished to cancel the same. I approached the bank and was informed they could not cancel it, I had to go to the company who had been given 3 weeks notice. 2 extra payments later they stopped. With no refund.
    18th Sep 2019
    I only have direct debits for my insurances - car contents, funeral & health. These have expiry dates - usually when the insurances come up for renewal. They are included in my budget and are taken out on my pension day, so that I know the next day what I have left for the rest of the fortnight.

    I never have my phone or electricity bill direct debited! They are paid by me each fortnight, no matter what. This ensures that my bill, when due is already paid.

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