Do you ever find yourself missing the days when you paid for something and it was yours.
You didn’t need to upgrade it, replace it every 2 years or download a slew of extras. You just had it. It seems as though, in the era of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify we have become accustomed to an economy based on a sharing of resources rather than ownership. While subscription services always seem like a great deal on the face of it, they have a nasty habit of accumulating and eating away at a household’s perfectly planned finances. Indeed, many of us may have subscribed to services which we rarely use or in some cases never use at all. Your subscriptions should be an included fixed expense in your household budget, but if they are not, you may be surprised at how much money is being leaked out of your account.
Here we’ll look at what makes subscription services so appealing, why most of us aren’t getting our money’s worth and how you can scythe down the cost of your subscriptions yet still never, ever want for entertainment.
The allure of subscription services
It’s easy to see why subscription services are so appealing to so many. Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music and new kid on the block Youtube Music offer you all the music you could want with the ability to put together a playlist for virtually any occasion. Likewise, the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime offer more films and TV series than you’ll ever have time to watch. Voracious readers will find that Kindle Unlimited provides a plethora of e-books for a nominal fee while comic book enthusiasts will find that Comixology Unlimited gives them access to hours upon hours’ worth of superhero shenanigans.
Subscription services may seem like the perfect antidote to boredom for the thrifty family, especially when they generally come with a month free. Indeed, one or two subscription services may offer a great deal to families for whom the prospect of buying all the content they want to enjoy either physically or digitally would be cost prohibitive. However, subscription services’ appeal and apparent value for money means that they can spiral out of control and cut harder and harder into our budget. While the post certainly isn’t intended to dissuade people from these services altogether, it does behove the frugal family to ask themselves…
Are you getting your money’s worth?
How many shows and movies currently languish in your watch list? How many playlists have you created that you’ll make your way through “one day”? How many audiobooks sit in your Audible library waiting for you to find the time to sit yourself down in your favourite armchair with a big mug of coffee and treat your ears to a tale of wonderment.
Very often we have a surplus of subscriptions. We accrue more and more because they’re so (understandably) alluring, yet the window of free time we have in which to enjoy them never opens any wider. As such, the more subscriptions we accrue, the less likely we are to be getting our money’s worth out of them.
Incidentally, you may have noticed that the majority of this post pertains to entertainment subscription services, but there are some circumstances where a subscription can be beneficial. When it comes to your grocery shopping for example, if you find yourself buying the same items month in and month out from services like Amazon Pantry you may find that you are able to subscribe to this item and make a small saving every month.
While there are a great many subscription services out there, there are more on the way; most notably Disney will soon unleash their own subscription service Disney+ which will not only contain notable entries from the studio’s back catalog but content from its Marvel and Star Wars Universes and exclusive content that won’t be available anywhere else. It goes without saying that as more and more subscription services come out, the less likely it is that households will have the budgets to accommodate them.
Carry out a subscription audit
If your budget hasn’t already caused you to account for your subscription services you may be astonished to see how much of your monthly budget they’ve begun to consume. Carry out an audit of your subscription services and see which you could live without.
Does your household really benefit from having Netflix and Amazon prime? Did you know that you can still access your Audible audiobooks without continuing to subscribe? Did you also know that you can return any audiobooks you don’t like and get your credit back to spend on something else?
Do you really need to subscribe to MS Office when Google Docs is a far superior alternative word processor that’s absolutely free? Even if you can’t bring yourself to unsubscribe from a service you may still make substantial savings by suspending it for a few months. In most cases, you’ll probably be offered a few months free or at a reduced price if you threaten to leave.
Smartphones… It’s time to get off the carousel
While your mobile phone bill isn’t necessarily a subscription service, it’s a fixed monthly cost that can afford to be driven down without inhibiting the enjoyment you get from your smartphone. For most of us, getting off the carousel of expensive upgrades with costly tariffs can save us a small fortune. Check out how much you could save by switching to a SIM only network. How does unlimited calls and texts and 2GB of data for just £7.50 a month sound? Very often we feel obliged to surrender a handset just as soon as we’ve actually begun to own it, only to spend a small fortune every month on a shiny new phone that has a slightly better camera.
Embrace your local library
Finally, your local library is a completely free subscription service that gives you access to all the books you could possibly want for the low, low price of absolutely £0, not to mention cheap movie rentals. In the subscription era we’ve somewhat neglected the wonderful resource that is our local library, but in an era where so many face closure, we owe it to our communities to patronise them!
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