Thoughts on Bobby, and Tracking Subscriptions in general

Given that subscriptions are a bit of a, ahem, hot topic these days, I thought I would write-up my experience using Bobby to track subscriptions.

TL;DR: There’s a lot of good in the app, but some frustrating parts too (i.e. learn from my mistakes about subscription dates).

I hope that A) the developer of Bobby will keep improving it and B) other developers will not think that the existence of Bobby means that tracking subscriptions is a “solved problem” – because it definitely is not, especially if “A)” does not happen.

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I currently use Bobby and have previously used Chronicle:

I moved away from Chronicle because it wouldn’t allow me to enter a subscription in a currency other than the default currency for the region of my device. (Perhaps not a big deal for some people, but $20 != €20 != £20 for me.)

I recently did a short video on Bobby for SCO, for anyone who subscribes to that and wants to learn more :slight_smile:

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I do not want to sound silly or whatever, but that is exactly what I did a week ago. :slight_smile: The video is very good and I instantly bought Bobby. It is a very nice way to keep track of subscriptions.

And thank you for your blog post @tjluoma, I also stumbled into the trap of thinking “first bill” actually is being included in the monthly cost even if it is being set in the future. I also “solved” that by changing the first bill date into the according date in 2019. I am not 100% happy with that, though, because I have a Setapp and an Office365 subscription that I both pay in advance, when a discounted option is available on Black Friday or whenever. So, for instance the next billing date for Setapp is in 2021 and I still would like to have it being included into the monthly cost…

Still, Bobby is a pleasing way of tracking subscriptions which is not that pleasing matter at all… :slight_smile:

(Yes, a spreadsheet could do the same, but well, it is not much fun… :slight_smile:)

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Bobby, and Chronicle, look good, but I didn’t want yet another app that I needed to track. So for a few years I have been keeping track of active (and terminated) subscriptions in a little Numi doc, which is always a click away in the Mac menubar. The line for that sub in my Numi worksheet includes the URL.

When I purchase or renew a subscription my habit is to select a line in Numi and copy it to create an OmniFocus task (with the OmniFocus “Send to Inbox” service), with a defer date 11 months from the date the subscription started – the task is always “Cancel xxxx”.

This way I affirmatively set the idea in mind that I am going to discontinue the sub and give myself a month to reconsider if it is worthwhile keeping.

Thanks @tjluoma and @RosemaryOrchard for your thinking on this subject. I’m looking for an easy to manage tool for just this purpose, and I’ll be checking out Bobby.

I’ve also thought about a tool for other services (household, like cable, electric, etc) and wonder if a good old fashioned spreadsheet is the best option for reporting purposes.

Lazyweb questions: Does Bobby track all subs, or just apps? Can I use it for Netflix, etc.?

I recently switched to YNAB and while previously having used Bobby and a Soulver’s note to track expenses and subscriptions, I will eventually rely solely on YNAB which does tracking of subscriptions to the extent that I need

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I have a good solution for this problem which is I dont use subscriptions for apps. It does make it simpler and no recurring payments to track. I have been retreating back to apple apps over the years as all my favourite apps went subscription.

You can use it to track whatever you want. It includes Netflix, Hulu, etc for colors/logos/etc but you can add anything else you want to. You could even use it to add things like your cable bill if you wanted.

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Am I missing something why not just have an Excel or Numbers sheet with this info?

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It gives you a visually pleasing interface and has notifications for when subscriptions are due

Notifications, I’ve yet to find a way to get notifications of an upcoming renewal out of excel :wink:

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I like the dynamic views (compared to a static spreadsheet); for example looking at only the bills for the next week (“Due soon”, set to 7 days, in Chronicle).

(I do that as part of my GTD® Weekly Review, as an extension to reviewing the upcoming calendar)

That’s a good point. Someone should have mentioned that in the article he wrote :wink:

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Don’t forget that @MacSparky has a spreadsheet example

This is great! Thanks for sharing it.

Of course, now that I’ve started down this road, I find myself thinking “What I really need is a database…”

which would be fine…if I knew anything about creating databases on the Mac/iOS.

I haven’t played with a DB since MySQL and PHP were brand new… and I’m sure I don’t remember any of that (which may be for the best anyway).

One word…or maybe one compound word…AirTable.

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Did someone ring a bell? I do love a good Airtable base. Unfortunately I don’t think you can generate a calendar of payment dates without some magic, but you can add magic if you try!

What is SCO?
(Extra characters added to reach 20 character minimum)

Screencastsonline

Another subscription! :wink: :laughing: I have been a subscriber since 2008. When I switched from a PC to the Mac, Screencastsonline was basically the No. 1 source of information for me.

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