Are Vampire Costs Sucking Your Bank Account Dry?

I didn’t notice the charge at first. It was a small amount, and it didn’t trigger my credit card alert, which I have set to email me a notification when a charge over a certain amount posts. Eventually, though, I was looking over our credit card statement, and something didn’t look right. I finally figured it out – my husband had signed up for a subscription to an online magazine a few months back and had forgotten to cancel it.

It was what I like to call a “vampire cost” – something hidden that is slowly, insidiously taking money out of your bank account. And right now, before the busy (and expensive!) holiday season, is a perfect time to take stock and see whether you have any hidden bloodsuckers in your life.

Hunt Them Down

The first step in eliminating vampire costs is to find them. Sometimes this is easy – check your bank and credit card statements for recurring costs.

But other charges can be sneakier – what about subscriptions that are set to auto-renew? This trap has caught us more than once.

Other costs are hidden add-ons: do you really watch all the channels in the packages that have been added to your cable television subscription? Do you use the extra data you paid for on your cell phone plan?

Put a Stake Through Each One

Once you’ve identified these costs, it’s time to make a decision about them. If you’re truly watching both Hulu and Netflix, if you’re getting good use out of your Shipt subscription, if you can’t do without Apple Music, then fine – keep it if it’s in your budget.

But if you are not using these services, or you are having difficulty keeping to your spending plan, then it’s time to axe them.

If you get caught and an auto-renewal occurs before you can stop it, try emailing or calling customer service to see if you can cancel. It’s worth a shot. If you cannot cancel, then at least take the subscription off auto-renew so it doesn’t happen again next time.

Forewarned is Forearmed

Now that you know what to look for, it should be easier to eliminate vampire costs before they hit your accounts. Any time you sign up for a service, read the fine print. If you are using your credit card to pay, make sure you know whether the service will auto-renew, and put that date on your calendar.

These periodic check-ups are key – I have seen people (I’ve even been one of those people!) have charges hanging around on their account statement for months before they even investigate them. I actually had a client who had paid around $10 per month for three years for a credit monitoring service that they didn’t use. If they had “slayed” this vampire cost earlier, they would have definitely had more money in their pockets!

Want to build wealth and reduce debt? Get tips and inspiration for your savings journey when you visit militarysaves.org and take the Military Saves Pledge.