There are a ton of different alternatives to cable these days. One of the most popular of these cord-cutting options is streaming subscriptions. Providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney Plus pump a menagerie of old shows, new movies, and freshly generated content into your home for your continual binge-watching pleasure.
The Problem with Streaming Subscriptions
While there are numerous companies leading the charge into the cordless future of entertainment, the sheer quantity of options can quickly lead to a case of analysis paralysis.
Which services do you choose? If you choose an option based on a show that you want to watch, what do you do when it migrates off of that particular service and onto another streaming platform? What if you’re a fan of the original content from two, three, or even four different providers?
If you aren’t careful, you can end up with a combined streaming payment that is nearly as big as that intimidating old cable bill — you know, the service that you specifically dropped and signed up for streaming instead so you could cut it out of your budget! If you’ve found that your streaming portfolio is becoming bloated, subscriptions are going months between use, and your bills are starting to add up, here are some suggestions for ways to cut down on the costs while keeping streaming in your life.
Brush Up on Your Budget
The first thing you want to do before you start recklessly unsubscribing from everything is to brush up on your budget. Keeping up on your income and expenses is an essential element of healthy finances, and it should be done on a regular basis, regardless of the number of streaming subscriptions you might have.
Start the process by looking over your budget, updating things where necessary, and assessing if there are any other areas such as eating out or electricity usage that can also be reduced. If you don’t have a budget yet, then you’re definitely going to want to set one up:
- Add up your (monthly) income.
- Calculate all of your (monthly) expenses.
- Figure out how much money you need to cover basic, required payments (car loan, mortgage, groceries).
- Choose how much money you want to save each month.
- Finally, decide what portion of your finances can go towards discretionary spending including subscriptions.
Budgeting is a great exercise that helps you see what you really can afford without getting into a cycle of debt. Even if you find that you can afford all of the subscriptions you currently have, that doesn’t mean you should keep everything, however. There are other considerations to keep in mind besides the cold, hard numbers.
Don’t Bloat, Minimize
Minimalism is a popular lifestyle that is often misunderstood. It isn’t simply about getting rid of all of your stuff. It’s about living intentionally. In contrast, by the very definition of the word, keeping a bloated list of streaming subscriptions “just because you may want to use them at some point” is the opposite of living intentionally.
Once you have your budget in order, take some time to consider how you can intentionally fit streaming subscriptions and the value that they provide (when used in moderation) into your life.
Stream with a Purpose
Alright, it’s time to start thinking about the subscriptions themselves. Start by considering why you have each service. For instance, if you purchased a service specifically for one show or movie, there’s no reason you should keep it indefinitely.
Take some time to comb over each subscription you’re signed up for. Also, consider the ones that you aren’t signed up for. What are the pros and cons of each option? Hulu provides access to television shows as they air. Netflix’s original content library is massive. Amazon video comes with its already valuable Prime subscription. In other words, take a look at your options and then come up with the cost, pros, and cons of each service.
Set Up a Streaming Carousel
Once you’ve analyzed each service, it’s time to start prioritizing. Figure out which services are worth having now and which ones can wait until a later date. For instance, if you’re watching a show “live” on Hulu, it should go high on your list. If the current season ended, consider dropping it to the bottom of the list for the time being.
As you create a hierarchy of streaming subscriptions, cancel everything except the top one or two options. This may feel harsh, but you’re not getting rid of them for good. You’re simply setting up a streaming carousel.
This is where you keep only one or two subscriptions at a time. When you’re finished with the time-sensitive content with a current subscription, consciously cancel it and then shift to another one on your list.
As a final note, if you want to maintain a carousel over the long haul, it’s important to avoid any of those tempting long streaming subscription commitments. For instance, signing up for a year of Disney Plus at $5 instead of $7 may save you $24 over the course of the year, but it will still cost you $60. Unless you’re very sure it will be in your top one or two choices for the entire year, ditch the discount.
Streaming Subscriptions on a Budget
Streaming is typically one of the first things to go when times get tough. However, if you take the time to clean up your streaming act now, you won’t have to worry about slashing those subscriptions in the future.
Instead, you can save money every month going forward while simultaneously restoring a sense of purpose and intentionality to your entertainment activities.
Author Bio: Beau Peters is professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he has learned a slew of tricks in the business world and enjoys sharing them with others who carry the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.