How to spend less on subscription-based services

Does your dog need quality food every day? There’s a subscription for that! Do you want to receive monthly beauty boxes? There’s a subscription for that too! You name it, there is a subscription for it! From the outset, a subscription may save you loads of money, but when you have multiple subscriptions, it can add hundreds of dollars to your bill.

How do you keep the convenience and still spend less on subscription-based services?

*This is a guest post from Alex Miller. You can find his full bio at the bottom of this post.

Why subscriptions?

There is a reason why people prefer subscriptions!

Subscriptions such as grocery-delivery services offer convenience. Then there are digital subscriptions such as video-streaming, music-streaming, cloud storage, digital newspaper, dating apps, and other services available as well.

Digital subscriptions provide entertainment, keep you up-to-date with the latest news, help to manage your time, and improve quality of life. Hence, paying five bucks for a video-streaming service doesn’t seem much.

But each category has abundant subscription services, which makes it hard for a person to choose. So you end up choosing two or three subscriptions for the same category.

Do you know how much you’re spending?

Most Americans underestimate their spending on subscription-based services.

In a survey by West Monroe Partners, 84% of the 2500 respondents underestimated what they spend each month on subscriptions. Only 6% of the respondents gave exact estimates on their spending.

Based on the survey, an average American spends $237/month on subscriptions alone.

Music-Streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal cost $9.99/month each. If you subscribe to all, it costs about $30/month. Most of the music on these platforms are similar, yet you’re spending $30 instead of $9.99.

Choose one subscription service

The truth is you don’t need more than one subscription for one service.

Having Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime is not only unnecessary but also foolish unless you are streaming all of them every single day which is rarely true. And you’d be wasting a lot of money, that you could be spending on things that matter.

You could save money for traveling, to start up your business, for college, your retirement fund, or even for an emergency.

No matter how many subscriptions you have, you will miss out on something—the latest movie, the latest song, the latest beauty trend, etc. 

There’s a way you can get out of the labyrinth of multiple subscriptions and hefty bills, while enjoying your favorite services.

How to save more money

Instead of blowing hundreds of dollars on multiple subscriptions, be smart about how much you pay and on what service. Here are a few tips to help you spend less on subscription-based services:

Free services

Free subscriptions may not exist for the majority of the services. However, there are free options for many software-based subscriptions. For instance, many cloud storage subscriptions range from $1.99 and up.

You can save money by using free cloud storage services by Google Drive and Dropbox. 15GB on Google Drive and 2GB on Dropbox are free.

If you don’t require a lot of storage, you can avail these. Similarly, if your usage of Microsoft 365 is meager, an alternative is Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Also, you can find many free services for management software, anti-virus software, and others. So you can save money on software subscriptions by searching for free software that doesn’t cost you a penny.

However, it may be challenging to find free services. Often “free” services are limited and ask you to purchase a subscription plan for unlimited access. Many music-streaming services, such as Spotify offer free limited access. So if you are a music lover, you may want to switch to the unlimited access for a small subscription fee.

Subscription Audit

Do you really need three subscriptions for the same service? Not always.

If you have more than three subscriptions for the same service, you need to perform a subscription audit. Check your bank statement to determine the money you spend on subscription-based services monthly. Then, make a list of all the subscriptions you have according to type. Here are a few categories to help you get started:

Digital streaming services

  • Video-streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime)
  • Music-streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal)
  • Book services (Kindle, Audible)
  • Software packages/services
  • Fitness apps (Fitbit)
  • Wellness apps (Headspace, Calm)
  • Cloud storage (OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox)

Subscription boxes

  • Grooming kits (Dollar Shave Club)
  • Lifestyle subscription boxes (FabFitFun, Mindfulness Box, etc.)
  • Meal-prep kits
  • Toy and craft kits

Memberships

  • Gym membership
  • Magazines

After you’ve completed the list, cut off unnecessary subscriptions from your list.

Consider the time and money you spend on each subscription.

In addition to this, consider the value it offers to you. Do you spend time watching TV shows and movies on one or all streaming services? How much does it cost you per month? If you find yourself spending more time on one streaming service than another, than quit the latter.

You don’t need subscriptions to all streaming services if you spend more time on one than another. Moreover, if you find that various subscriptions offer the same features, you might as well use only one.

Another rule you can follow is to unsubscribe to a service if you haven’t used it for more than a month. So if you haven’t used your gym membership in over a month, it’s time to cancel it. It will help you cut back on the subscriptions you don’t use.

Share accounts

If you want a variety of content, but are unwilling to spend a lot of money, you can share subscriptions with family and friends.

You can share streaming services with your friends whom you trust, instead of subscribing to all by yourself. Sharing accounts helps you save money.

Similarly, if you and your friends subscribe to lifestyle subscription boxes, you can share the contents with your friends. This way, you don’t have to pay for all to get the item you wanted.

However, when you share your account details, make sure that it is with someone you trust.

Research free trials

Before you subscribe to a service, you must research it and consider the value it offers.

For example, there are many parental monitoring tools such as Xnspy that offer great value for parents. To determine if such as app is worth the money, read online reviews, check out the website, and go through the installation procedure. Researching the app will help you figure out its features, ease-of-use, compatibility, among other things. This process will help you spend money wisely on services that you need.

Many software and app-based services offer a free trial before charging you for the subscription. To determine if an app, software, or a service is for you, avail the trial. After you’ve tried and tested the service, you can plan to either subscribe or unsubscribe.       

Skip a delivery

You don’t have to remain a subscriber to a service. If you feel that you no longer need the subscription, you can unsubscribe to it, and subscribe when you feel like using it. Instead of receiving grocery weekly, you can skip on deliveries and subscribe to it when you need it. Likewise, you don’t need meal kit boxes to help you cook your meals daily. You can subscribe to it when you need it and skip on days when you don’t.

Wasting money without reason is not the best way to live your life. Subscription-boxes and services are attractive, and there is no doubt that they offer value to the consumer. However, spending money endlessly on subscriptions is not the smartest decision. Given the number of subscription-based services out there, it is hard to choose that offers the maximum benefits. However, subscribing to all is not the alternative. Instead, one must try to control their compulsive nature and be objective in considering the subscription that best suits them.

About the author:

I am a tech enthusiast, programmer and a sci-fi fan. I enjoy reviewing and researching new, innovative software that adds value to human life. I love writing about latest technology and trends, and have made this a full-time job.

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If you love subscription based services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, you're not alone. But you might be paying too much! Here's how to save!

1 COMMENT

  1. smartliving | 25th Sep 19

    Share accounts does save money! Especially for steam games!

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