A few weeks ago, upon logging into Mint, I met an unwelcome surprise: a charge for almost $70 from a sketchy freelancer site I had signed up for months before, back when I had been unemployed and looking for writing gigs anywhere I could find them.
In a short time, I experienced all five stages of money grief: denial (“There’s no way I’d be that dumb! This must be a scam!”), anger (“I am that dumb! I hate me!”), bargaining (“I promise I will never sign up for another sketchy freelancer site again, if only this one will refund my money”), depression (*cancels all plans, retreats to mother’s couch, watches Legally Blonde*), and finally acceptance (“I have made a grievous error, but I will survive.”).
My story has a relatively happy ending: I sent an email to the sketchy freelancer site, and they both canceled my account and refunded my money. (Maybe they are not so sketchy after all.)
I could have saved myself a lot of hassle, however, if I had known about services like Trim and Truebill.
What Trim and Truebill do
Trim and Truebill burrow into your credit card and bank transactions and excavate long-forgotten subscriptions. And they make it super easy for you to cancel the ones you don’t use anymore. (Trim will even send your gym a certified letter to tell them you aren’t coming back anymore.)
The best part? They do all this for free.
How Trim and Truebill work
If you’ve ever used Mint or Personal Capital or any other online financial management tool, then you know setting them up means entering your bank and credit card info, watching as the progress bar advances, and finally seeing a stream of transactions load.
Trim and Truebill basically work the same way, though the only transactions that load are the subscriptions they’ve found. Trim also sends you a text message with all your subscriptions, and you can cancel one of them simply by replying “Cancel X.”
If, like me, you occasionally blanch at the thought of how many different apps and online services have your financial logins, then be aware that Trim and Truebill both use 256-bit SSL encryption, the same that your bank (and Mint and Personal Capital and all the rest) use. Trim goes even further, requiring you to enter a verification code every time you log in to the website.
It doesn’t totally put my fears at ease, but it helps a little.
How Trim and Truebill make money
It’s unclear at this point, but I have seen cross-promotions for other financial services (like Betterment) on Truebill. Trim’s founders have discussed eventually introducing premium financial planning services that go above and beyond their basic offerings, but that is still a ways off.
Both companies are adamant that their basic service will always remain free.
Why you should use Trim or Truebill
Whether for streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Spotify, or cloud versions of popular software like Microsoft 365 and Adobe’s recent offerings, buying monthly access is in, buying things outright is, well, out.
But all those subscriptions can get overwhelming, lost in a flurry of middling charges on your credit card, at a glance indistinguishable from that Chipotle burrito you scarfed down during your lunch break three Thursdays ago. (Let’s be real: If the charge from the freelancer site had been $9.99 rather than $70, I probably wouldn’t have been as motivated to cancel.)
And then there are the more insidious recurring charges, like your gym membership, or the credit monitoring service that gave you a free trial-and that you were definitely going to cancel once it was over. These charges might seem small but, over months or years, the charges add up to something far more substantial.
Eliminating these unnecessary and unwanted expenses can free up some cash for things that perform an actual service, or that you truly enjoy-even if said thing is just another delicious burrito.
How the two stack up
In terms of their services, Truebill and Trim are similar.
Neither service found any subscriptions I didn’t already know about, but, after my experience with the freelance site, I’ve been more vigilant about canceling stuff. (And, I do write for a personal finance website, so I’m pretty careful with my spending.)
In terms of the experience of using each of them, I think Truebill currently has a slight advantage. Their interface is nicer and sleeker (see above), and, unlike Trim-who included regular transfers to my savings accounts, as well as my cell phone bill, and even a trip to the grocery store, as “subscriptions”-they were better about separating true subscriptions (Netflix, etc.) from bills (which are included in a separate section).
Trim is pretty new, and their interface may catch up in time. In addition, Trim offers to negotiate some necessary (but often expensive) bills, like your insurance premium or your cable bill. A coworker sent Trim his Time Warner cable bill and, a day later, Trim had negotiated $30 off a month for the same services (they even threw in a premium channel). That’s a savings for $360 a year without needing to make an awkward phone call. Right now, Trim is working on lowering my car insurance, but, according to their website, they haven’t yet succeeded. This particular service is still in beta, however, and there’s no guarantee they’ll save you money.
However, seeing as both Trim and Truebill are free, there’s no harm in giving it a shot.
Like eliminating unnecessary fees, getting rid of old subscriptions you don’t use can make a significant difference in your financial health. And startups like Trim and Truebill make it easier than ever to root out those unnecessary recurring charges. Take ten minutes and save yourself some money.