Having cable is just like walking into an all-you-can-eat restaurant. You pay one price, then you’re faced head-on with a spread of every item you could possibly want and things that you didn’t even know you needed. But the reality is, cable is now (almost) a thing of the past.
Instead of sprinting from the front door and calling first dibs on the remote control, we’re now at liberty of curating our own must-watch list based on our interests and availability. However, with more than 200 different streaming services out there, how many of them are actually worth your money?
Before you make a decision, here’s a brief snapshot of what’s currently available:
- Apple TV+ – $4.99
- CBS All Access – $5.99
- Hulu – $5.99 to $44.99
- Disney+ – $7
- Prime Video – $8.25
- Peacock – $10
- Showtime – $11
- Netflix – $9 to $16
- HBO Max – $15
And the list goes on. A survey conducted by PCMag found that customers are willing to pay an average of $33.27 every month for streaming services. To put this in context, that’s almost $400 every year!
“But… I need to be subscribed to multiple services because I watch completely different shows on all of them.”– sound familiar? Trust me, I’ve been there too. Having access to different services may sound fun, but managing them can get out of hand very easily. Since these payments are automatically charged to your account every month, overlooking them is common, especially if you’re paying for each service with a different credit card.
$400 can sound like a huge load, depending on who you’re speaking to. If $400 a year is within your entertainment budget, then more power to you! However, if you’re someone who does not keep close tabs on how quickly these streaming bills can add up, you might want to consider shaving some services off your list.
Here are some common questions I consider when having the #RealMoneyTalk about streaming services and evaluating my options:
How Many Should I Be Subscribed To?
This is entirely based on how much you’ve set aside in your budget for entertainment. Start off by getting a snapshot of your monthly expenses on the Mint app. Then, set aside some financial goals for the month in Mint’s Goals feature. Next, adjust your entertainment budget accordingly by deciding how much you want to dedicate to catching up on movies and TV shows.
How Do I Decide What To Keep or Toss?
An easy way to think about it is treating it like you’re spring cleaning your closet. Content selection on the platform seems a little lackluster? Toss. Actively keeping up with multiple TV shows on the platform? Keep. Only use it for one or two shows you barely watch? Toss. You get the idea. Alternatively, auditing your payments will also do wonders in figuring out which ones are worth your money. Keep a written tally on how often you use each platform to evaluate if you’re getting your money’s worth. If you use it less than 5-7 times a month, consider unsubscribing for the upcoming month and putting that money into building an emergency fund or paying off some remaining debt! No matter which method you use, the key here is to have the #RealMoneyTalk with yourself on what you actually use and hit the cancel button for those that don’t quite meet the mark. You may feel the FOMO creep up on you, but don’t let it make a dent in your wallet. After all, you can always reevaluate your keep or toss list.
Now that you’ve reprioritized, here are some more tips on how you can support your binge-watching needs without breaking the bank:
Take Advantage Of The Perks Of Being A Student
If you’re a student, be sure to use all the pros that come with it. Many streaming services offer special prices or bundles for students. So, do your homework to make sure you’re getting the best deals.
Split It Up
Most streaming services allow at least 2 users under the same account. If you have multiple family members or friends who are interested in the same subscription, consider opting for a family plan, which usually saves you a couple bucks!
Pay Attention To When The Trial Ends
Many of us get sucked into signing up for a new streaming service because of the attractive “free first month” promotions. While that sounds like you scored a great deal, the deal ends when the trial ends– which most of us tend to forget about. Mark the end of your free trials on your calendar so you don’t end up paying for another month’s worth of subscriptions without actually intending to do so.
Consolidate All Your Monthly Payments On One Card
When you type in your credit card details, charge them all to one card. This will be extremely beneficial when you audit your auto-payments to see exactly how much money you’re spending to get your content every month. I use Mint to see them all in one place!
With all that said, choosing what to toss to the curb is not always easy as we have so many options to choose from. You don’t have to hit the cancel button on all your streaming services, but the occasional declutter will make some room for you to live a more financially healthy and empowered life.