7 Strategies for Managing Subscriptions in 2023 To Save Money

TV remote control in the foreground, Video on demand screen in the blurry background, streaming.
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It seems almost everything is going the way of the subscription these days. From Netflix to CatLadyBox, you may find yourself shelling out a monthly payment for a lot of stuff you want.

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From a business perspective it makes sense, as it gives companies and individuals a way to generate consistent revenue. The problem for consumers is that subscriptions are approaching ubiquity. With so many subscriptions available, it’s easy to flat-out forget about a subscription — or several of them. Those charges add up quickly too, and can derail your budget just as fast.

One of the easiest ways to address — let’s call it “subscription creep” — is to simply cancel the ones you don’t need. But, again, almost everything is moving toward the subscription model. Hence, it might be necessary to manage some of your subscriptions more efficiently instead. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Look for Free Trials

As mentioned, businesses really want you to sign up for their subscription services. That means they don’t mind letting you try their services out for a little while, so look for a free trial on the product’s website or app.

Make Your Money Work for You

Trial periods can last anywhere from one week to six months. Free trials won’t save you much money in the grand scheme of things if you end up having to pay for the services monthly. However, they let you avoid spending money on a subscription you decide you don’t want it. Remember to cancel the auto-renewal if that’s the case, as free trials often automatically roll into a monthly charge.

Consider Your Usage

Some subscriptions might seem like an absolute necessity — until, that is, you realize you aren’t using them much anymore. This tends to be common with TV subscription services. Once you finish watching your favorite show, you may not have much use for that service.

If that’s the case, you may want to cancel, at least until the show’s next season is released. Again, it all depends on how much you continue using it.

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Alternate Monthly Subscriptions

As mentioned earlier, it’s not uncommon to binge a TV show or two and then find you have little use for a streaming service for a little while. Expanding on that, another way to manage your subscriptions is to alternate paying for different subscriptions.

Make Your Money Work for You

For instance, you can alternate between Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc. That way, you aren’t paying for all of them at once. As an added bonus, it’s probably better for your mental health not to constantly be hopping between different subscriptions.

Bundle Your Subscriptions

With so many subscriptions available, it’s no surprise that numerous bundles are also available. Bundling is a win-win for the company and the customer. The company gets more revenue since you pay for both services, but when you bundle, you pay less than you would for each product separately.

Some bundles include multiple streaming services, like Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. Others let you bundle wireless service and streaming, or include products like Spotify. If you can find one that fits your needs, you will likely save money overall.

Share With Friends and Family

While some services are cracking down on password sharing, you can still share with friends and family in many cases. Maybe you have one account for the family, and everyone has their own profile. Alternatively, maybe you pay for one service, your sibling pays for another, and you share both accounts between you. Hence, you each only pay for one.

Make Your Money Work for You

Perhaps companies providing streaming services will be more steadfast in preventing these practices. For now, though, there’s little reason not to share with friends and family when it makes sense.

Don’t Pay for More Than You Need

Streaming services often have three different subscriptions — and they have a pesky habit of pointing you to the most expensive one by default. Sure, the costliest tier might have certain benefits, like 4K picture and no ads.

However, if you are committed to saving money on streaming, opting for a lower tier is one of the easiest ways to do that. Besides, if you try a lower tier and decide you just can’t live without those premium features, you can always upgrade later.

Pay With a Credit Card That Earns High Cashback Rates

Subscriptions are more popular than ever, and credit card companies are well aware of this. As a result, some card issuers are giving high cashback rates on streaming services.

For instance, Citi Custom Cash gives you 5% cash back on your highest eligible spend category, and streaming services are an eligible category. Thus, if you were to use this credit card only to pay for your streaming, you would earn 5% cash back every month. If you do a lot of streaming, that could be a lot of “free” money.

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About the Author

Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer who specializes in topics such as investing, banking and credit cards. He left his day job in 2019 to pursue his passion for helping people get out of debt and build wealth. You can find his work at outlets such as Business Insider, Forbes Advisor and SoFi.
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