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Nearly every pre-roll advertisement on YouTube this year was for Monday.com. You know, the new way to manage your work. I still don’t know what it is.

On LinkedIn this year, I saw an increase of employees at Drift using personal branding for business marketing. And in New York, Vienna, Edinburgh, and London I saw building banners for Slack.

We live on earth, but we are a tech-enabled society.

Today, most of our actions advanced by technology come with a price. A price we continue to pay monthly, despite having only entered our credit card information once. That’s the beauty of the recurring payment model of subscriptions.

Over the years, I’ve made some horrendous decisions about how to spend my money, and more recently improved upon these. So, as I began my end of year finances and set goals for 2020, I addressed my active subscriptions and wanted to share the 9 that will successfully bill me come January.

It’s worth mentioning that this list was created by someone who is proud of their frugality, knowing that each penny-pinched and economy flight allows them another day to invest in making their dreams a reality. If you too are looking to save money, spend mindfully, forge better relationships with technology, or simply give a bad-ass gift this season, then this list is for you. If you’re none of the above maybe you’ll enjoy reading about how I killed each of my partner’s house plants during our first week living together.

Let’s begin.

  1. Canva | $12.95 | Sydney, AUS | CEO: Melanie Perkins

Canva is a simplified graphic-design tool that uses a drag-and-drop format, provides access to photographs, vector images, graphics, and fonts, and includes professional layouts to design consistently stunning graphics.

No matter how many times we lie about judging books by their covers, we do. Well, Canva is now making a lot of those book covers. Good branding is an invitation to explore the contents within and whether a book, a bottle or another product, good branding can either capture or dismiss our curiosity.

Canva’s cloud-based platform allows designers of all skill levels to create perfectly sized assets for social media postings, events, personal .pdfs, testimonials, investor decks, and more. Canva allows you to own distinguish yourself, your work, and your brand.

In 2019, Canva was a major reason for the growth I experienced because I was able to have ownership over my brand without needing tool-specific expertise as one does with the Adobe or Microsoft suites. The commands were familiar, making learning it fun, and creating my own assets increased the confidence of my offering.

In 2020, consider Canva for a staple in your toolbox.

2. Medium | $5.00 | San Francisco, CA | CEO: Ev Williams

Medium is an online publishing platform with a hybrid collection of amateur and professional people and publications, or exclusive blogs or publishers. Medium offers all users 3 reads per month before introducing a paywall, which once a member of allows for unlimited engagement.

The news kinda sucks right now. Even progressive outlets have removed comment sections, forcing those seeking engagement into anonymous Reddit hell holes. That’s not to mention the frequency of advertisements framing your page as you scroll through articles or past click-bait titles screaming READ ME!

Medium is a home for readers and writers to engage with pace. Authors control distribution, so a letter to the editor can be published immediately, accelerating the pace of conversation. Accelerating the pace of education. In my experience this past year on Medium, I’ve found most users are thoughtful, intentional, kind, and respectful. I’ve also found most major outlets and personalities are sharing on the platform, making it a one-stop-shop for information.

You can also earn money on Medium by enrolling in their partner program which pays writers based on how deeply Medium members read their work, so you’ll likely earn your membership fee’s back. In a way, Medium is Spotify for writers, and your Facebook comment sections if all your “friends” were compassionate, curious, and respectful.

3. Luminary | $3.99 | New York, NY | CEO: Simon Sutton

Luminary is a podcast streaming platform and the first with a monthly access fee.

Luminary is the first paid podcast platform and honestly, it was only a matter of time. Podcasts are the best free education out there, and the hosts deserve to be fairly compensated beyond pre-roll ad spend. Podcast hosts such as Guy RazMichael Barbaro, and Rich Roll, and their guests, have become my professors. And they’ve kept their show’s free to listen to through other platforms.

But, for how long will they abstain from the consolidation? Earlier this year we saw Russell Brand and Trevor Noah join Luminary, moving their shows behind a pay-wall, and I’m cool with it.

In opposition to Luminary, one may argue for free podcast platforms (I still use the Podcast App from Apple) and the difference I will include is quality. Anyone can create a podcast on other platforms, so consider Luminary a litmus test answering the question, is this worth a listen?

Even with the verdict still out, Luminary has slashed their pricing and is now offering subscriptions for $3.99 per month for 12 months + 1 month free, so for $12 I’d encourage you to try it out for 3 months. Who knows, maybe you’ll be encouraged to create your own podcast, pitch it to Luminary, and begin generating revenue from it.

4. Spotify | $2.50 | Stockholm, SWE| CEO: Daniel Ek

Spotify is a music streaming platform where the right music or podcast is always at your fingertips.

Music delivers joy and improves our moods. That alone is enough justification for a $2.50 monthly fee to unlimited music and podcasts. To add more though, consider Spotify as the soundtrack to your commute, your workday, your workout, your life. Especially attractive is Spotify if you choose not to pursue a Luminary subscription with the volume of podcasts included.

Spotify individual pricing plans begin at $9.99 per month, but for $14.99, 6 family members can use Spotify, lowering the individual monthly price to $2.50, so let your dinner tablemates know about this steal.

5. Down Dog | $7.99 | San Francisco, CA | CEO: Benjamin Simon

Down Dog Yoga is an anytime, anywhere, unique yoga practice. With over 30,000 different configurations, and multiple levels, voices, and settings you are able to individualize your practice, every time.

I love community, but don’t love rushing to an afternoon class, or meeting an early morning schedule, especially the more autonomous I’ve become over my schedule. With Down Dog, if I’m inspired to fall into a practice, or only want to dedicate 15 minutes, I’m empowered to do so.

Yoga has been proven to reduce anxietyreduce depression, and lower stress levels, and Down Dog gives you all of these benefits monthly for a fraction of what you’d spend at a studio. And, if you prefer to practice with others, turn the volume up and invite them over to flow with you! (Sorry if this is against the rules Down Dog).

6. Insight Timer | Free | Sydney, AUS | CEO: Christopher Plowman

Did you know that people spend almost 3x more time on Insight Timer than many other apps who have 10 times more downloads and a bazillion times more revenue? Insight Timer is the world’s largest free library of guided meditations on earth and the world’s most loved meditation Timer.

You’ve read the articles about meditation, have tried and failed to keep a practice, or even lied about having a practice on a first date. Whatever your truth is, I don’t care. What I care about is Insight Timer.

Insight Timer is the reason I have an active 54-day meditation streak, and sit twice daily, 20 and 10 minutes respectively. Meditation is proven to better preserve our brains, improve our mind focus and happinessreduce anxiety and pain, and improve cognitive function.

And Insight Timer somehow lets users do it for free.

7. Strava | Free | San Francisco, CA | CEO: James Quarles

The first social fitness network, Strava is the number one app for runners and cyclists. It has an international user community of over 40 million and a team that spends each day searching for new ways to inspire athletes and make the sports they love even more fun.

Since moving to the west coast of the United States, I’ve canceled all of my gym memberships. I only had one so it’s not as dramatic as that sounded. I’ve always found natural movements to resemble play, and learning the longevity secrets of the Blue Zones confirmed this. Natural movement is proven to reduce symptoms of depressionelongate lives, and make you happier.

Now, my pacific days consist of runs, hikes, rides, and walks, all tracked and shared in Strava. I even tracked my solo bike ride across America this summer in Strava. But, not every movement needs to be competitive and that’s what I love about Strava. The social network aspect creates an environment to connect and share your daily’s with friends.

8. Mailchimp | Free | Atlanta, GA | CEO: Ben Chestnut

Mailchimp is an all-in-one marketing platform, most commonly used for email marketing.

Email lists are measured by the value of each subscriber. That individual subscriber value is a constantly debated metric and often shared only when it’s of an impressive value. Subscriber worth aside, the important message here is to keep an email list.

What started as a paid model, in 2009 Mailchimp introduced a freemium plan for those with under 2,000 contacts. If this is the first time you’re hearing of Mailchimp then this is probably you.

If you’re an entrepreneur or creator of anything, Mailchimp is something to familiarize yourself with. Beyond templates and email marketing, Mailchimp also offers custom landing pages and automation capabilities (enter your info here and you’ll see what an automation is).

It’s pretty impressive that Mailchimp offers this for free, and it totally reason enough to cancel that $25 annual mail merge extension.

9. Tap | Free | Santa Monica, CA | CEO: Samuel Ian Rosen

FindTap is a first of its kind drinking network for smarter cities and a cleaner planet. With their app, users find the closest place to refill a water bottle within seconds.

This may not be a subscription, but it is something to use monthly. No, daily.

Never underestimate the power of two things:

  1. Hydration.
  2. That the sum of small acts can change the world.

With the FindTap app, you’ll reduce your single-use plastic, live more hydrated, and most likely discover some cool new shops that double as refill stations.

Okay now, that’s the list.

And if you had your calculator app open you know that for $32.43 per month, or $389.16 annually, you can leverage each of these tools every day in 2020.

Yesterday alone, I spent more than $32.43 in an airport restaurant on an unfulfilling veggie burger and green tea, so calculating this out made me cringe. But once my facial expression settled, the truth remained: For a veggie burger and green tea each month, I can radically transform myself.

You can too. That’s a no brainer.

One thing you may have noticed is that this list does not include Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV or any other streaming service. This was intentional. As entertaining as the content within these platforms is, the majority of shows and series do not support a growth mindset. If anything, they encourage unhealthy and stationary behaviors. This, coupled with price increases due to the dissolution of many streaming platforms, validated the exclusion. Consider replacing the hours spent horizontal delaying sleep fixated on streaming screens with podcasts, yoga, or Medium. Or, if you enjoy reading, open a local library card and access their digital downloads from anywhere. Another free service.

BONUS:

A 2020 challenge for any reader still with me is to delete Uber, Lyft, or any other ride-sharing apps. Not only do these services increase congestion and contribute to climate disruption, but they also interfere with opportunity. In the absence of these services, opt for walking, riding a bicycle, or public transit, and observe your surroundings, rather than rush from destination to destination. At first, this will be challenging, that’s why it is a bonus, but be open to it. You will learn how to organize your day better, improve your travel planning, and may just meet some incredible people along the way.

Richie. Human.

(C)