Without missing a beat, can you name all of your online subscriptions? A surprising number of people don’t realize just how many nickels and dimes they’re paying out on a regular basis for subscription services, especially if credit card and bank statements aren’t regularly scrutinized. It only takes a few moments to evaluate your own expenses. Any recurring bill that isn’t part of your family’s required cost of living goes on the list. Subscriptions may include rented software, streaming services, online video games, subscription boxes, magazines/newspapers and so forth. Now take a good look at the tally and consider how much value you’re getting out of each item on a regular basis. Can you find $10 or $20 to shave off per month?
1. Video Streaming
If you only watch TV for a couple hours a week, is it really worth having Netflix and Hulu and Youtube RED? Maybe one is enough to satisfy your weekend binge! And if you have a smart TV or device, most popular channels have apps that include a few episodes that can be streamed for free every month. No cable plan required! I get by watching favorites like HGTV and Travel Channel. Most paid streaming services don’t lock you in for long contracts either, offering excellent opportunities to come and go as your budget allows. For instance, maybe you only need one month a year of HBO Now to catch your favorite show!
2. Subscription Boxes
Are you a subscription box junkie? These monthly goody boxes might be fun at first, but you have to admit it’s a bit of a gamble! Do you really need random items sent your way on a regular basis? The edible variety might be tasty, but most can be reproduced at the grocery store as a savvy shopper. The novelty of convenience isn’t always worth it, nor are the mixed results of not always being happy with what arrived. How many of the products received would you buy again? How much would it cost? It’s important to maintain awareness and make smart decisions when determining whether subscription boxes deserve a place in your budget.
3. Rental Software
Do you remember when you paid for software once and then actually owned it? Many developers have since adopted subscription plans that promise regular updates to a product you’ll never own outright and many of these also require solid internet connectivity to function properly in the cloud. I’m not sold on the idea that these perks justify recurring costs and there are still some suitable replacements that are free or cheap. For instance, I use Corel Photo-Paint (one time fee of $75) in leui or Adobe Photoshop ($10 – $50/mo with yearly contracts) and LibreOffice (free) in leui of Microsoft Office 365 ($100 yearly contract).
4. Music Streaming
There are numerous ways to stream music online without breaking the bank. iHeartRadio, Pandora, and the free version of Spotify are just a few places to find toe-tapping tunes without needing to pay an entry fee. YouTube also boasts an excellent selection with plenty of playlists, though it can be challenging to find older songs there. Hooked on SiriusXM while driving? There are always discount codes and coupons circulating the internet if you search for “SiriusXM discount” or ask to speak to their retention department to negotiate a lower price when your renewal is threatening an increased rate.
5. Ebooks, Audio Books, Magazines
I’m really into reading, so one of the few subscriptions I hang onto is Kindle Unlimited, but I still refuse to pay full price! At different times during the year, Amazon puts this subscription on sale. For instance, during Prime Day, you can prepay for 2 years at a 40% discount, which translates to around $6/mo. There are also discounts around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and during December. An even better bargain is using the Overdrive app to check out library books. Join any major library in your state to gain access to an incredible collection.
Some subscription services are absolutely worth the cost, especially when many benefits are rolled into one like Amazon Prime (movies, music, books). But in a world where the cost of living rises much faster than the average income, picking and choosing what matters most is a sensible way to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. Which subscriptions are on your must have list?