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Microsoft's annual Laziness Tax on you

Everyone hates taxes, but most people pay Microsoft’s Laziness Tax every year.  Here’s how to avoid paying extra for Microsoft 365.

Microsoft 365 annual tribute fee for the Home/Family plan is US$99.99 but you can pay less for renewals.  The difference is Microsoft’s Laziness Tax.

It’s the extra you pay for buying direct from Microsoft for Microsoft 365 new and renewals without shopping around for a better price.

Renewals too

You do NOT have to renew direct with Microsoft.

Microsoft 365 Family or Personal plans can be renewed by buying elsewhere and adding to your existing account.

Microsoft doesn’t like to mention this, because they make too much extra from their Laziness Tax.  It’s definitely allowed according to Microsoft’s own Terms and Conditions for Microsoft 365.


Ever wondered why Microsoft pushes the Auto-Renewal option so hard?  If you haven’t turned Auto-Renewal on, you’ll see reminders all over the place, even on the Office software Account pane.

Auto-Renewal enforces the Laziness Tax.  Microsoft gets to charge you full price for Microsoft 365 automatically.

Of course, Redmond doesn’t say that.  Instead, Microsoft says Auto-Renewal is a ‘convenience’ for customers.  Auto-Renewal might be convenient, but only really naïve people think that’s Microsoft’s main motivation.

See Automatic Renewals trap and how to take advantage to find out how to use Auto-Renewal to get an extra month of Microsoft 365 each year.

How to save on Microsoft 365

About 4-6 weeks before your Microsoft 365 comes due, start shopping around.  Any reputable retailer will do.

  • The same plan as you already have: Microsoft 365 Family/Home or Office 365 Personal
  • There’s no special renewal product. Buy the same Microsoft 365 Family/Personal for both new and renewals.
  • It doesn’t have to be the same store as you bought Microsoft 365 in the past but it does have to be in the same country.
  • Sometimes it’s cheaper to have the product physically delivered than getting electronically. Another reason for suggesting the 4-6 week advance time.

Microsoft 365 Product Key

What you’re buying is an Microsoft 365 Product Key, a unique 25 character code. Get that in the Office 365 card you buy in a store or download from an online store.

Either way, look for that Product Key.  It’s what you need to renew Microsoft 365.

How to Renew

Once you have your Product Key, go to your Microsoft 365 account at to add it to your Microsoft 365 subscription.

Go to My Office Account | Manage Account | Services & subscriptions and look for ‘Have a prepaid card or code for Microsoft 365 Family’.

Or try this link to the same page (but MS changes their web navigation so the link might not work anymore).

After confirming your Microsoft account, enter the product key to extend your Microsoft 365 expiry date.

Microsoft 365 for Windows: Straight Talk has a ‘Buying Office’ chapter devoted to saving money getting Microsoft 365.

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