During the pandemic, many Americans loaded up on streaming subscriptions as a way to pass the time during lockdowns. But as we return to normalcy, it may be time to cancel some of those subscriptions to put that money back in your wallet — especially with inflation on the rise.
You’re Spending Less Time at Home
If you find that you’re spending more time out of the house and less time in front of the TV, you may want to cancel a subscription or two — at least temporarily. Jennifer Kropf, founder of Wealthy Woman Finance, cancels subscriptions during the summer months when she tends to spend less time at home.
“We drop one television subscription service every summer,” she said. “We don’t watch as much television during these traveling months, and we’ve found that this helps us be more active as well. Plus, we’re always excited for new shows again in the fall. It builds anticipation!”
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You’re Going Over Your Entertainment Budget
The costs of streaming services can really add up, and since these payments are often deducted automatically, you may not realize how much you are really spending on them — and it may be putting you over your budget for entertainment spending. Be sure to factor these costs in when looking at your monthly spending.
“Create a budget for entertainment expenses, with sections for various streaming platforms and types of entertainment — TV, movies, short films, sports, music, [etc.],” said Sonali Divilek, head of digital channels and products at Chase. “There are a variety of budgeting resources available, including budget worksheets to help prioritize expenses.”
If you see that you are spending too much on streaming services, you may want to cut back to prioritize spending on other forms of entertainment.
You’re No Longer Using the Service
With so many streaming services offering free trials, you may have signed up to watch a certain show and then forgotten to cancel the service before the free trial period ended.
“We’ve all had the experience of forgetting to cancel a free trial before it lapsed and been hit with a monthly fee we didn’t expect,” Divilek said. “Conduct an audit to determine what services you currently have subscriptions for to avoid excess expenses. Consider which platforms offer the most content you’re interested in watching. You may even find you no longer need some.”
The Service Isn’t a Fit for Your Needs
Not every person needs every streaming service. Consider if your subscription is truly benefiting you.
“Do your research,” said Rebecca Gramuglia, consumer expert at TopCashback.com. “Streaming services are not always ‘one size fits all.’ Look into services that fit your needs and provide multiple benefits to your lifestyle. For example, if you shop online often and like to get things delivered quickly — but you also like streaming video content — Amazon Prime might be the fit for you.”
You Could Get the Service for Free
“Check your wireless plan perks,” said money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. “Some wireless carriers offer free subscription services through your plan, so you could be paying unnecessarily for a service that is offered to you already for free. For example, T-Mobile users can get free Netflix, a year of Apple TV and Paramount+, and Sprint offers their members free Hulu and Tidal.”
You’ve Watched All the Content You Are Interested in Already
How many times have you opened up your Hulu, Amazon Prime Video or Netflix app only to find that there’s nothing you actually want to watch? To avoid this, Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com, recommends putting your subscriptions on a rotation.
“Even if you have a preferred streaming service, odds are good that there are times when you can’t find anything to watch on them,” she said. “And if there are particular shows you want to watch, you may have to wait for new seasons or episodes to be released, so try to cancel or pause the services when you can. For instance, if you’re waiting for season four of “You” on Netflix, you can cancel the service until the season drops. The same goes with other services; by pausing or canceling ones you aren’t interested in at the moment, you can cut back on your overall expenses related to streaming.”
You’re Paying More Than You Need To
In some cases, you may not want to cancel a subscription entirely. If you’re spending too much on streaming services, consider downgrading a subscription plan or two.
“Basic plans for streaming services can be almost half the price — [for example], Hulu costs $6.99 per month with ads versus $12.99 per month ad-free,” Gramuglia said.
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