If there's one reliable truth in this harsh capitalist world, it's this: Everyone loves free stuff. Enjoying the finer (and free-er) things is an innocent enough source of joy, but unfortunately, marketers are onto us all. What, you thought it was a coincidence that every product is now trying to package itself under a "subscription service" model, and is also trying to lure you in with a "free trial" that just so happens to still require you to dole out your credit card info?
This is, as they say, "how they get you".
Just about everyone has fallen for this at some point, accidentally letting the free trial lapse into a paid subscription, and only realising it once it's too late and the charge is smugly sitting there on our credit card statements, taunting us for our naiveté.
But there's a very simple way to avoid this trap, gobbling up all the freebies that cross your path without paying a damn thing. Whenever you sign up for a free trial of a new subscription or service, immediately set a reminder near the end of that trial period reminding you in ALL CAPS that it's time to UNSUBSCRIBE before you get charged.
There are a variety of ways to do this, so choose your poison: Google calendar event or alert, iPhone alert, Slackbot reminder, Boomerang of your "welcome" email from whatever service you've signed up for, and so on. The medium doesn't matter, so long as you set your reminder the second you sign up, ideally giving yourself 48 hours of buffer time to extricate yourself before payment kicks in. (For what it's worth, if you're the type of person who regularly "credit surfs" through new cards to max out intro rewards, this system also works for reminding yourself to cancel the card before the annual fee kicks in.)
This is an incredibly simple trick, sure, but if all of us were doing it, this business model would have collapsed long ago, and companies wouldn't be handing out free trials like lollies. Meaning, then, that there's plenty of room for all of us to more effectively game the system. Sometimes you just need a reminder.