A Millennial Wonders: When Should I Actually Think About Retirement?

On rare occasions, I wonder about when to start saving. Is it once you start to earn a larger salary in your thirties? When your parents retire? Am I already too late?

The short answer is simple: start saving for retirement as soon as possible. Ideally in your early 20s, once you start earning a paycheck. Every small amount you can put into a savings account helps, and if you set up a tax-deferred account and invest your savings with an assumed 7% annual return (that’s generous), annual contributions of $3,000 can grow to over $300,000 in a few decades.

Once you exit the workforce, costs you don’t consider normally will become regular and grow year by year. Medical care, housing, and general necessities for getting by will determine your quality of life, and only careful retirement savings planning can ensure that these costs are covered.

There are two main aspects to planning your finances for retirement correctly:

1) Paying off outstanding debt and

2) Using low-fee, high-quality investment instruments to grow your savings contributions.

While it seems obvious, paying off debt or limiting excessive interest payments is key to having a comfortable retirement. Most people are still paying their home’s mortgage by the time they retire and often don’t account for these recurring payments when setting up their plan for retirement.

Furthermore, thousands of Americans each year continue to pay exorbitant interest payments on late credit card payments. Late fees and soaring interest payments detract from retirement savings, so do your best to pay off all your debts so that your retirement account can be used with a clean slate.

Secondly, take advantage of instruments that your employers offer you for saving, like 401(k)s and IRAs. Many companies offer a contribution match to 401(k) accounts, usually a percentage of your salary. For example, with a 6% contribution match, if you have an annual salary of $50,000 and put aside $3,000 into your 401(k) account, your employer will add another $3,000. This seemingly small amount of your salary can grow much quicker than you expected.

Too many Americans are afraid of locking their money into long-term retirement accounts and run into shortages during retirement. Don’t fall into this trap. Don’t be myopic. Start saving as soon as you can!

The 5 Biggest Subscription Rip-Offs

In an era where there’s a subscription for just about anything, it’s easy to fall prey to the system and subscribe for something inadvertently or forget to cancel a trial. Here’s a list of the companies that our users are most likely to axe.

  1. Blue Mountain eCards – Unbelievably people pay monthly and annual subscription fees to Blue Mountain (also known as American Greetings) in order to send electronic greeting cards or “eCards” to their loved ones, or perhaps would-be admirers. We recommend getting crazy with the free fonts in Gmail instead.
  2. Planet Fitness – Coming in at number two is Planet Fitness, at a cancellation rate of 30.4%. The monthly rate of $10 when you sign up around the New Year attracts a lot of customers, but as the year wanes so too does the interest in membership.
  3. TransUnion – This information services company is most well known for their credit report and credit score offerings. Reeling customers in with a $1 trial subscription, Experian continues to charge your account small amounts for the months following your first report. You’ll usually need to call in order to cancel.
  4. GogoAir - Airplane wifi giant GogoAir comes in fourth on the list with a 23.6% cancellation rate. GogoAir touts affordable monthly rates across multiple airlines for frequent travelers, reeling in customers and putting a small but consistent dent in credit card statements.
  5. Audible - Last on the list is the most popular audiobook service out there, Audible. With over 150,000 recorded bestsellers and other books, Audible offers a free one month trial followed by a $15/month membership. But some Trim users might tell you that listening to more audiobooks ended up being an aspiration rather than a reality.

Did your Comcast bill go up recently?

Comcast has a reputation not only for atrocious customer service, but also slyly hiking their monthly rates for services without any notice or explanation.

A simple Google search for “Comcast increasing my bill” will yield thousands of disgruntled customers bitter and confused as to why their bill was increasing. One customer went so far as to say “I would NEVER recommend Comcast to anyone unless you want to add more stress and frustration into your life.”

It seems that Comcast has a tendency to inch up their rates a couple of dollars some months for certain services, or package deals like their Triple Play for phone, internet and cable.

Another customer who experienced particular issues with their Triple Play package pricing. “I signed up for the triple play in December 2014 that was supposed to be $79 the first year and $99 the second year.  They have been charging me $148 the entire time, they are not able to give me any of the money that I overpaid,” the customer said.

People who call Comcast are greeted with hold music, infamous customer service, and a generic response about the increasing costs of installing new Fiber Optic technology. Unfortunately, the customers who are paying for these upgrades are far from receiving the benefits. They are never warned of emerging price hikes, and have to wait on the phone for hours to get explanations, rarely resulting in a price adjustment.

Comcast hopes that users will:

(1) Not notice the change in the price of their services or

(2) Be so sick of their customer service that they won’t bother to inquire.

So watch your bill carefully!

To the Moon: Why Are Credit Card Interest Rates So High?

No matter which credit card company you choose, you will inevitably find one major thing in common – a very high interest rate, and a zero-tolerance late payment fee. In fact, if you compare this interest rate to that of a mortgage or car payment it might even be twice as much. As of this month, the average annual credit card purchase interest rate (APR) lies at a hefty 16% for travel reward credit cards, all the way up to 21% on average for cash rewards cards.

But why are they so high?

The answer lies in a combination of profit and risk. Many credit cards charge no upfront cost or annual fee for use, but instead capitalize on monthly $35 late fees (which luckily the government capped!) and interest on statement balances at these soaring rates of 20% per year. As long as banks charge interest rates that are more or less on par with their competitors they will do their best to hike the rate as high as possible.

They start with this thing called a “prime rate” which is an index of interest rates banks charge their most reliable customers. The Fed also helps determine this rate – it’s normally around 3.5%. Then, depending on your individual situation and credit history, the bank will add a margin. This is usually a pretty healthy chunk if they ultimately end up at around 20%. The worse your credit history, the more risky a customer you are and thus the higher your APR. Credit card interest rates (and late fees for that matter) are significantly larger than those for mortgages etc. because banks have no collateral against your use of their credit cards (like a house or a car), so they adjust the rates to account for this increased risk.

How do you solve this?

Well, the 🔑 here is managing your credit history and credit score so that banks “trust” you more and in turn lower your respective interest rate. This comes from:

  1. Consistently paying your bills on time (and in full when you can)
  2. Budgeting to spend within your means and;
  3. Cutting out any frivolous expenditures.

Finally – do your best to avoid running a balance on your credit cards! That’s the only sure way to avoid these killer APRs.

First Person: Get It Together, Bank of America

First Person: This is the first in an ongoing series of personal stories about our broken financial system. This article is written by Kabir, Marketing Intern @ Trim and recent Bank of America customer.

Credit card companies make exorbitant profits by exploiting their customers’ unawareness of shrouded costs and terms of using their cards.

I’ve experienced these unfair tactics myself with Bank of America’s credit card offerings. BoA’s mobile and online banking technologies are far behind their competitors, and they made me jump through countless hoops to set up a recurring payment. While most credit card companies will easily let you pay your statement balance via an auto-debit, and set this up online, BoA (the third largest retail bank in the U.S., you should note) takes “the road less traveled.”

After I messed around with their ancient website for about an hour, I found that online you could only set up recurring payments for fixed amounts or for the minimum payment. I called the bank up, and was then transferred to four different people before I was told the process required of me to auto-debit my statement balance. It was as follows:

  1. Print out a form;
  2. Fill out the relevant details;
  3. Attach a voided check with my bank account and routing number information and;
  4. Mail it in to Bank of America.

The worst part: the payment scheme only activated two cycles after they had approved all the details. Wanting to pay my bill in full and on time should NOT have been such a difficult process!

This is one example of a disease that enables the credit card industry to force late or forgotten payments, and it needs to be stopped. 

I am a young adult, managing my mounds of work in college, trying to sort out job opportunities while staying on top of other commitments in my day-to-day life. I need something to keep my finances in order, because otherwise they fall by the wayside.

No Weird Tricks: Get On That Resolution

BOOM! 2017!

“New year, new you,” right? Or same you, with a few new, ambitious goals. Perhaps they’re health or job related? What about the moolah? If you’re making resolutions, don’t forget the 🤑.

While exercise and getting a raise at work are both important, it’s also worth taking this clean break from last year to give your finances a review.

With the current transition of virtually every service to some form of a subscription, it would be worth your time to have a look at your bank statement. What’s the plan? What are your recurring payments? Do you want to save for a vacation? After all, you just had one.

Maybe take some time to do some budgeting. Where does it all go? Cut the fat. Burn it, if you have to. Sign up for Trim, of course. Look at your new dashboard and marvel at the account balances. Or cry, depending.

Start 2017 off right before you get too busy, or run out of money. Happy New Year from Trim.

7 Lessons from The Richest Man in Babylon

The Trim blog is pretty great, but we want to help you discover other awesome sources of personal finance wisdom. This is the first entry in a series that brings you key lessons from classic books about personal finance.

Written in 1926 by George Samuel Clason — and currently available on Kindle for $1.99 — The Richest Man In Babylon is the original guide to personal finance. And unlike the dry textbooks that are published in droves these days, it tells a great story.

The Richest Man In Babylon is structured as a series of parables set in ancient Babylon, centered around the story of two friends who set out on a mission to ask their wealthy former classmate just how he got so rich.

We love this book because it provides powerful lessons of personal finance in a simple, entertaining way. Here are seven of our favorite pieces of timeless wisdom from the book:

  1. “Start thy purse to fattening”

This is the big one: don’t spend all the money you make and pay yourself first! The rich old man in the book recommends that you “save one piece of gold for every ten you earn.” It’s a little easier than putting gold under your mattress these days, of course; there are tons of services that auto-transfer money from your checking to savings account, helping you save ten percent of your income a few dollars at a time.

  1. “Control thy expenditures”

The best way to make sure you have an extra “piece of gold” to save is to not spend it in the first place! You can use Trim to cancel old subscriptions, fight overdraft fees and earn back money to save.

  1. “Make thy gold multiply”

In a word: invest! The market has been volatile lately, but instead of buying individual stocks, you can’t go wrong by putting your money in a passive index fund that tracks the overall stock market. Vanguard has a few great options.

  1. “Guard thy treasures against loss”

A simple one at heart but not always easy to put into practice: don’t be a sucker! Avoid making risky loans or investing in pie-in-the-sky ventures that you don’t understand.

  1. “Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment”

This piece of advice suggests that you should invest in your own home as soon as possible, instead of paying a landlord. We’d say that the rent vs. buy decision depends on where you live and your lifestyle and financial goals — but given the existence of big tax breaks for homebuyers and low interest rates, we’re inclined to agree.

  1. “Insure a future income”

Some of the most important words of wisdom on the list: make sure to save up for retirement! We think that rather than investing in risky mutual funds, buying a set of passive index funds is the way to go. If you have a family, buying life insurance is important, too.

  1. “Increase thy ability to earn”

Possibly the most non-intuitive but crucial piece of advice from the rich old man in Babylon: improve yourself and you’ll improve your earning potential. Set concrete goals, pay your debts promptly, pursue education and deal with folks honestly, and you’ll massively amplify your financial — and personal — success.

We think that following these principles is a great start to achieving financial success, and we want to help. Sign up for Trim to cancel subscriptions, fight fees and get money back.

Why Companies Love Selling You Subscriptions


Here’s a trend you’ve probably noticed — in all likelihood, it’s the reason that you clicked this link and made it here to the Trim blog. The trend is simple: as consumers, we are living in the most subscription-saturated era in American history.

The average Trim user who signed up for our service within the past 90 days has 6.0 subscriptions on their credit card, not including utilities and payments to financial institutions (like student loan servicers). It’s hard to find historical records on the popularity of subscriptions with the U.S. population, but we do know that in the 90 day period that started exactly a year ago, the average new Trim user only had 5.4 subscriptions.

Imperfect data aside, we’ve heard qualitatively from hundreds of users who are drowning in more subscriptions than ever before. The movement even has its own name: try Googling “subscription economy” or “digital membership economy.”

But why is this the case? It turns out that there are several reasons why consumer businesses have followed the lead of their enterprise counterparts in pivoting to recurring revenue business models. Some of these factors reflect the changing nature of consumer consumption in a digital world; others smack of “revenue optimization” at customer expense, literally.

Read on for the top five reasons that consumer businesses love selling subscriptions:

  1. Predictable Revenue

There’s nothing that the finance department at a major corporation loves more than recurring revenue. With less fluctuation in the month-to-month take of the business, companies have a far more stable platform to make decisions, from hiring to inventory.

These factors alone make it extremely tempting for consumer-oriented businesses to move to subscription pricing, even if it’s not necessarily an intuitive choice for the consumer.  

  1. Increased Switching Cost

Subscriptions are hard to cancel and that’s a fact. How many times have you remembered a “free trial” way past its expiration date and rushed over to the computer, clicking through 15 menus only to find that you need to “phone a representative” to cancel?

Many companies, including otherwise reputable services like the New York Times, deliberately make it difficult to cancel your subscription in the hope that it’s just too much work. This is the whole reason we started Trim: there is literally zero benefit to the consumer in making cancellation difficult and it needs to stop.

  1. Lower Barrier to Upsell

From a business’s point of view, one of the best side effects of having your credit card on file is that they can easily sell you new things. Maybe your monthly craft beer club crate wants to convince you to switch a more expensive selection — it’s as easy as convincing you to click a button and boom, ten more bucks a month.

  1. The Internet Makes Anything Easy to Subscribe

Ten years ago, the thought of subscribing to a physical product like razor blades would have been very strange. But the Internet has made it far easier to manage the nuts and bolts of a subscription business, from customer management to shipping. There are even companies that exist to make it easy for anyone to make a subscription box that they can sell to others.

  1. Subscriptions Are More Profitable

The lifetime value — which is a fancy phrase for total profit — of subscription customers is greater than customers who buy a product or service one at a time, when they need it. This is due to a combination of the reasons above, and it is the single biggest reason why consumer businesses will stop at nothing to become part of the subscription economy.

The Bottom Line

To be fair, subscriptions aren’t always bad for the consumer — they add a layer of convenience and seamlessness to products and services that you know you’ll need.

As the winners of our most loved subscriptions ranking show, the key to a great subscription business lies in delivering true value to customers. Companies that force subscriptions on their customers simply because it’s “better for business” are doomed to fail. These consumers will find different options, and we can’t wait to help.

Check out your subscriptions — and cancel the crappy ones — by signing up for Trim.


The Ten Most Loved Subscriptions in America: 2016


Our mission at Trim is simple: build tools that help consumers avoid financial death by a thousand cuts, perpetrated by corporations that have made a science out of nickel-and-diming their customers with obscure fees and recurring charges.

To date, we’ve helped almost 50,000 users cancel subscriptions that will save them a collective $6 million per year. We’ve used this data to expose some of the worst culprits: credit agencies, gyms and financial institutions all make the bad list of subscription products that are insta-canceled by anywhere from 10-35% of subscribed users on the Trim platform.

But we’ve also been impressed by the “good” subscriptions — the recurring charges that our users review on their Trim dashboard with a smile (we assume) and rarely cancel.

As such, we’re proud to announce our inaugural ranking of the Ten Most Loved Subscriptions in America. These are the ten subscription products that Trim users were least likely to cancel in 2016.


In order to be included on the list, the service in question had to have at least 250 subscribers on Trim. We don’t count recurring payments to utilities (including phone companies) or financial institutions (i.e. credit cards, student loan servicers or mortgage banks) as subscriptions. Note that this ranking is biased towards the preferences of our user base, which skews young (25-34).


We want to do our part to encourage companies selling subscriptions to be transparent, easy to cancel, and provide clear value to their customers. Though it’s not a perfect heuristic, we think a great measure of these qualities is whether or not a customer asks Trim to cancel a subscription as soon as we remind them of it.

To manage your own subscriptions and more, sign up for Trim. For now, without further ado:

The Ten Most Loved Subscriptions in America: 2016

  1. Netflix

Subscribers on Trim: 11,948

Netflix is the king of consumer-friendly subscriptions. More than half of active Trim users have a Netflix account, and with a miniscule single-digit cancellation rate, it’s clear that Netflix customers don’t plan to give up their access to Stranger Things any time soon.

It’s important to note that not all entertainment or content providers share this level of loyalty: contrast Netflix to Audible, for example, which suffered a cancellation rate more than twice as high among Trim users.

  1. Steam Games

Subscribers on Trim: 500

It comes as no surprise to see Steam on this list, considering the deep loyalty that many gamers have to the largest digital distribution platform for PC gaming. The launch of Valve Corporation’s first VR headset, the HTC Vive, has probably only increased the product’s enduring popularity with its users.

  1. Spotify

Subscribers on Trim: 6,844

Spotify is the reigning streaming audio provider on our list. Nearly one-third of active Trim users have a Spotify account, with competitors (YouTube Red, Pandora, Google Music) lagging in both cancellation rate and subscriber count, at least in our sample.

  1. ADT Security

Subscribers on Trim: 776

The venerable security monitoring and services company holds the number four spot on our list. Our guess is that safety is an “inelastic” good, meaning that folks who have a security system tend to hang onto it, regardless of the cost. Either way, we’re impressed with ADT’s ability to retain their customers — no other security provider came close.

  1. Zipcar

Subscribers on Trim: 724

Given the increasing ubiquity of ridesharing services around the country, millennials (who form the bulk of our users) are less likely to own their own vehicles than any point in history. An intuitive side effect of not owning a car is that you’re much more likely to subscribe to a ride-sharing service like Zipcar, which handily takes the number five spot on our list.

  1. PlayStation Network

Subscribers on Trim: 680

The PlayStation Network cements its leading status with console gamers, taking the number six slot in our ranking. With blue chip games like Final Fantsy XV that feature multiplayer modes making their home on the platform, and the recent launch of the PlayStation VR headset, we expect a strong showing from PSN in future rankings, too.

  1. Xbox Live

Subscribers on Trim: 448

Continuing the trend of gaming services with a strong showing on this list, Xbox Live edges into the number seven spot on our ranking. With no shortage of awesome multiplayer content — Overwatch comes to mind — Xbox Live’s prospects for pleasing its subscribers and limiting churn are strong.

  1. Evernote

Subscribers on Trim: 275

Though there aren’t quite as many Evernote users on Trim, relative to the other subscriptions we track, these users are certainly loyal. With major “content events” like National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) approaching fast, Evernote is poised to build on a strong foundation and demonstrate even more value to its users.

  1. Squarespace

Subscribers on Trim: 1,467

Filling the penultimate spot on our list is Squarespace, which powers websites and landing pages for all kinds of businesses. When you have a dead-simple product that fills a crucial need for a customer, it makes sense that subscribers will stick to the service in question.

  1. Dollar Shave Club

Last but not least, we’ve got Dollar Shave Club. In many ways the original “subscription” e-commerce business, DSC has maintained fierce loyalty from its customers even as they’ve undergone a recent $1B acquisition by Unilever. In the midst of these changes, we’re optimistic that they’ll maintain the offbeat, customer-oriented excellence that enabled their success.


A hearty congratulations to our winners! If you’ve got questions or comments about this ranking, feel free to post below, or hit us up on Twitter (@ask_trim). Again, if you want to track and cancel subscriptions or appeal silly fees, take a look at Trim here.

Why Overdraft Fees Exist, and How We’re Fighting Them


You’ve had a great month. You went to your friend’s wedding. You remembered your mom’s birthday and bought her flowers. You paid your rent. And after all that, you put away $100 in your savings account. You notice that your checking account is a little low — ok, really low. There’s $7 left. But you get paid in two days, so no problem. Phew.

Unbeknownst to you, Netflix automatically bills you $7.99 the next day.

Your bank signed you up for “overdraft protection.” That means your bank will float you the money to pay your Netflix bill – or any bill. But they charge you a $35 fee each time.

So you just paid a $35 fee for a $0.99 shortfall in your checking account.

This is the story for millions of Americans every year who pay more than $23 billion in overdraft fees, $35 at a time.


Overdraft fees made sense a long time ago. Let’s say you had to write a check for $600 in rent, but you didn’t have the money. Your friendly local banker would front you the $600 by not “bouncing” the check. In exchange, your banker would charge you a relatively small fee for the service.

Effectively, this is a payday loan from your bank. Banks knew they could provide an ultra-short-term credit option at relatively low risk because you kept all your money with them.

What’s changed? More payments are made electronically, through debit cards and automatic subscription billing. With more money flying around in increments of wildly variable size, it’s harder for folks to keep track of how much is left in their account. And this leads to more overdraft fees.

Why Now?

Overdraft fees are starting to attract attention from regulators like the CFPB, which has an ongoing investigation. Especially after the Wells Fargo scam — in which bank employees created millions of unauthorized, fee-charging accounts that their customers didn’t know about — consumers and regulators are increasingly aware that big retail banks might not be acting in the best interest of their customers.

We hope that the public, regulators like the CFPB, and Congress will take a good, hard look at overdraft fees and decide whether they’re fair or not. Regulators could demand that banks reform their marketing of overdraft programs, reduce the fee amount, and give a “grace period” for consumers who incur a fee.

What Trim Is Doing

Trim is an AI-powered financial assistant. We find ways to save you money and then actually do them for you – like cancelling your old subscriptions. Recently we’ve started contesting overdraft fees on behalf of our users.

If you’re a Trim user, and you get hit with an overdraft fee, we send you a text with an alert. You can reply to that text with the word “refund,” and we’ll send a template email automatically to your bank. This results in a refund of the fee about 1/3 of the time.

To date, we’ve sent 560 overdraft appeal emails, and seen refunds on 174 (31%). But this clearly isn’t enough. We need to get everyone involved in order to bring an end to unfair overdraft fees.


  • Banks make $23 billion from scammy overdraft fees per year. That’s more than the cost of subprime auto loans and nearly three times as much as payday loans.[1]
  • The typical overdraft fee is $35. According to Trim data, nearly one-third of fees are incurred by transactions that are less than the amount of the fee itself.
  • Trim is helping consumers to fight overdraft fees by automatically sending an appeal to your bank when you get hit with a fee. We’ve had a 30% success rate so far.

[1] http://www.cfsinnovation.com/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=ac5235a9-a42a-434c-a26a-66a1b148b712