Digital subscriptions have saved many people from boredom during the pandemic by offering entertainment, health and fitness classes and education, and much more. The problem is that over time the number and cost of your streaming subscriptions may add up to more than you’re even aware you’re spending — or more than you want to spend. Here are some creative ideas to save money on the streaming services you’re using.
Also See: 9 Bills You Should Never Put on Autopay
Streaming Wars: How Does Amazon’s Price Hike Stack Up to Netflix & Hulu Costs?
Look for Free Options
Depending on what sort of streaming service you’re using, there may be free options you can take advantage of. While they may not have the latest and greatest content, particularly if we’re talking TV or movies, you can still get a lot of great content, according to Tom’s Guide.
Such networks as Peacock, Roku Channel, Tubi and Vudu offer free content, if you don’t mind watching some ads. Lots of other subscription services will offer a limited amount of free content, or you can always check out YouTube for classes, how-to videos and more. Also, many libraries utilize free digital apps such as Kanopy and Libby, through which you can watch free movies and download free audio books, with just a library membership.
Seek Cheaper Packages With Existing Subscriptions
If you’re paying for the top tier in all of your subscriptions, you might not realize there are cheaper tiers available that still maintain most or many of the features you enjoy. For example, according to Wired, sites such as Spotify and Netflix have lower-priced tiers you can downgrade to without losing a lot (sometimes you pay more for simply watching movies in high definition), or you might be able to get a bundle on several services to save money.
Good Question: Which Streaming Services Give You the Most for Your Money?
Cancel Account and Return
No company likes to lose subscribers, but they seem to understand that people have to take a break from time to time, according to Wired. So, canceling any subscription is typically not complex as long as you know your account login. Some will even try to win you back by offering deals and discounted pricing. The key is to make sure you know what sort of cycle you’re on — monthly, annually — and to cancel before you get charged again for another cycle. Then you can come back when you’re ready.
Share With Family
If people in your family are subscribing to services, make sure you’re not paying for them separately; subscribe to family sharing, according to MakeUseOf.com. Most services — from Amazon Prime to Netflix and Spotify — have a family sharing or multi-device sharing option. Better yet, if you have family members you don’t live with who are willing to share their logins, consider asking whether you can use their accounts — but only if you know them well enough to ask.
If you’re subscribing to every major streaming service out there, it might be time to get honest with yourself and look at how often you really watch or use each one — and whether it’s worth the cost. Each service may not seem very expensive until you really add it all up. Some services, such as Amazon Prime and Hulu, offer crossover content that is found on other networks. Consolidate your networks so you pay only for the ones you watch or utilize most often.
Track and Manage With Apps
If you’re not sure how many subscriptions you’re paying for, or when they renew, it’s time to develop a system for tracking and managing them. Fortunately, there’s an app (or several) for that.
Apps such as Bobby, Subby, Truebill and Trim allow you to enter your subscriptions as a bill, view recurring charges, monitor and cancel subscriptions. Some of these apps do ask for personal financial information, so read the fine print before you sign up.
The networks are getting savvier at introducing original programming they know will hook viewers and make them want to subscribe, even if it’s to watch only one show. They bank on people forgetting to unsubscribe, according to Popular Science. But you can be even smarter, by rotating your subscriptions to take advantage of that great content at different services; just remember to unsubscribe after you get through your watch or use.
Review Subscriptions on a Particular Date
If you’re not quite up to tracking all of your submissions on an app, then consider setting several dates per year when you review your subscriptions, suggests Modern Advisors. Something like quarterly might make sense — or around New Year’s and halfway through the year. Whatever works, it will help you unsubscribe to those you don’t use anymore before you keep wasting money.
The most radical option is to simply go without. Maybe take a temporary hiatus from these services and see whether you miss them, or which ones you miss the most.
More From GOBankingRates