A new year means plenty of new binge- worthy TV series premiering on our favorite streaming services, new motivating gym memberships, and new app subscriptions that will help us meet our 2020 goals. But are we thinking about how much these subscriptions are actually costing us in the long run?
Evaluate Your Subscriptions
Small monthly charges add up fast
At the time, another charge of $7.99 doesn’t seem like a lot, especially when there are so many shows and movies right at your fingertips. But let’s do some math. If you look at your annual budget, $7.99 multiplied by 12 months is actually costing you $95.88 a year. That’s almost $100 for one streaming service. Now, how many do you have? Without thinking twice, we can name these seven hot services that you may subscribe to: Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, Starz On Demand, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, Disney+, and the list goes on and on. And that’s just video. What about music? Spotify, Pandora, Google Music, iHeart Radio, Apple Music. See where we’re going with this?
Weigh the value of each subscription
We’re certainly not saying that any of these streaming services are “bad” to have, IF you use them enough. Starting the year off right by signing up for a gym membership is a valiant deed, but only if you actually go to the gym. The same goes for meal prep kits like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Fantastic if you prepare the meals. If they make your life easier and keep you eating healthy then the value outweighs the cost. But, if you find yourself throwing them away and making something else for dinner you are literally throwing away money. And let’s quickly talk about trendy subscription boxes. While these are exciting to get, how many of the products in the box each month are you actually using? If the amount of product you use consistently equals the amount you paid for the box, then you might find it to be valuable. If you really only use one or two products that alone cost a fraction of the price, we recommend ending your subscription.
Do your research before signing up for any service
Ask yourself, is this the one for me? Find out what how long it takes to prepare the meals you would be getting and think about whether you have that time. Does the gym have the right equipment for you and is the location convenient to your daily routine? Many subscription services/memberships will allow you to do a free or discounted trial session to see if they are the right fit for you. Having multiple subscriptions that do the same thing, like video/tv streaming, need to be justified otherwise you are wasting money. We’re not saying you can’t have Hulu and Netflix, just find out why you need both. Determine how much you need to use each subscription to truly get your money’s worth before signing up.
How Do You Save Money?
Audit of all your monthly subscriptions
Go through your bank and credit card statements with a fine toothed comb. Some services may be charged on a different cycle than monthly (like Amazon which is an annual subscription so don’t forget about them). Categorize each subscription to see if you have any overlap. Write down the monthly charge for each subscription. Now add them all up. The real eye opener is multiplying your monthly services charges by 12. That is how much you are paying a year.
Straight up cancel
If you haven’t been to the gym in over a month, cancel the membership. If you can’t remember the last time you logged into your streaming service, cancel it. If you don’t read your book of the month, then cancel the subscription. If you aren’t getting value out of your subscription then you don’t need it. Remember, you can always sign up again at a later time and possibly at a discount. Subscriptions providers want you to use their service. If you cancel they may negotiate a better price or have a special discount running at the time that you do want to start the service again.
Get rid of overlap
For example, if you have overlap more than one video streaming service, pick which subscription has the most of what you want. Most streaming services allow you to freeze your subscription. Pick a series or two that you are watching on one service and watch those while the other service is frozen. The following month, freeze that service and unfreeze the other one. This way you aren’t paying for two services at the same time.
Downgrade your subscription
Sure, no one wants to watch advertisements in the middle of their binge session so we pay a little more not to see them. But, multiply that “little extra” by 12 and then do the same for every other streaming service you pay extra for. It adds up quick. What about paying for a premium gym membership so that you can go to any location in New England! Be honest, do you really go to more than one location? You could save by downgrading to a standard membership and still get your work out in.
Whatever you decide to keep or cut out, make sure that you are getting the intended value of the subscription. There’s nothing worse for your budget than wasting money on something that you don’t use.