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How To Save Money On Streaming Services: The Dos And Don’ts

Sophia Surrett  |  December 16, 2021

No, the “streaming wars” shouldn’t mean war on your budget. Here’s a look at how to save while still getting all your favorite shows.

With the countless streaming services out there today (all of which seem to offer a different one of our favorite shows) it can be hard not to want to tack on that extra $9 a month for that little bit of entertainment, especially when it’s less than the cost of dinner… But the problem is, those little incremental charges add up, quickly. Consumers are paying an average of $47 a month on streaming services (a 24% rise since COVID hit) according to a new J.D. Power survey. And no, you might not be going out to the movies as often as you were, but can you really afford an extra nearly $50 a month on something that you might only watch once? Thankfully, there are ways to lower your bill while still being able to watch Grey’s Anatomy on repeat, we promise. Here’s a look at how we can consolidate our streaming spending once and for all. 

1. Cross-Check Your Budget 

We’ve all been there. We’re watching TV (or another streaming service that we pay for, or we’re just scrolling all the channels at our disposal) and the ads pop up advertising a ““free 3-month trial” or a “free weeklong” trial, but no matter how long it is, it manages to pull us in. The only problem with that is that when those trails are up, it can be oh-so-easy to forget that those payments are now being automatically deducted from our accounts. In some cases, we may have forgotten what we signed up for (or perhaps our roommate or spouse already signed up for it, and we end up getting billed TWICE. Yes, twice. This happens more often than you might think, explains Jesse Mecham, founder of You Need A Budget. For example, the recurring bill could be going to an older email address that you never check, or you and your partner just haven’t compared notes on who is paying for which accounts. Take the time to go through everything with a fine-tooth comb, and make a list of what you’re looking for: 

  • Any accounts that you rarely use that you need to cancel 
  • Any “free trial” services that you forgot you were even paying for 
  • Any services that you can get for free via your partner, roomate, or parent that you shouldn’t be paying for, too. 
  • Any other streaming charges that don’t seem right, or that may have been charged to an older account 

2. The One In, One Out Rule 

Guess what? We live in a world where we can stream all our favorite shows at any hour of the day — and we can also immediately cancel those services and stop paying for them whenever we like. Think about it. Just because you’ve been paying for a streaming service in your name every month doesn’t mean you have to keep that same service indefinitely. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with canceling one streaming service so you can pick up another, explains Joel Money, founder of Budgets Are Sexy. If a new show comes out on Hulu that you’re dying to see, then simply get a subscription for one month and watch that show. Once you’re finished, if a movie comes out on Netflix you’ve been dying to watch, then cancel Hulu and subscribe to Netflix. In other words, you can watch everything, without having to pay for everything AT ONCE. And I don’t know about you, but spending $9 a month sounds a heck of a lot better than $50. 

3. Deals And Discounts You Might Already Get 

It’s time to take a look at all the services you’re paying for, and where you might be able to get a discount to a streaming service — or even get some channels for free. For example, Verizon customers can bundle some services and get deals on Disney Plus, YouTubeTV and more. And if you’re a student, with a Premium Spotify for Students account, you can get Hulu and SHOWTIME for just $4.99 per month. And T-Mobile customers on eligible plans can get $10 off some qualified streaming services — just talk to a representative to see if you qualify. The truth is, there are deals and discounts that pop up all the time, those are just a few recently published ones we discovered. Cable, internet, music streaming services, and cell phone providers routinely seem to offer streaming savings, so keep an eye out, and call if you don’t see what you’re looking for. 

4. Split The Cost 

If you’re the type of person who loves to binge watch every tv show that is advertised, and you like having something new and different on “in the background” no matter what else is going on, then multiple streaming services might be an important and valuable part of the entertainment section of your budget. But as more and more great services come onto our radar, those costs are only going to mount. In order to save money, consider splitting the cost of services with your roommates or family members. For example, if you have a roommate, maybe they can pay for Hulu and you can pay for Netflix. If you have multiple roommates, this is even better as you can get a family plan that offers multiple screens. Or if your dad is really into HBO, your mom is a Netflix fan, and you’ve really been into Hulu lately, then each family member paying for one service can be the way to go. Talk it out with the people in your entertainment orbit and see what sounds fair — and fun— for everyone. 

The number one rule: watch what you pay for! To help make sure this happens, determine the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend and pick which streaming services can fit inside that amount says Bola Sokunbi, founder of Clever Girl Finance. Streaming wars might be the hot topic right now, but your budget comes first. 

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