Paying for ‘entertainment’ used to include the cable bill and not much else. But these days, between Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV, HBO, Amazon Prime, live TV streaming services, and sports channels/apps, it’s a little more complicated. If you “cut the cord,” you might save some money, but getting all the entertainment you want will probably require piecing together (and paying for) a few different apps.
It probably doesn’t make sense to pay for all of them, but it’s nice to have some variety when you feel like cuddling up with a bowl of popcorn and getting lost in a show or movie. But is it possible to get popular channels and your favorite movies and the latest shows without breaking the bank? Yes! Here are six tips to save money on streaming services every month while still getting all the content you love!
1. Split a family plan.
Most streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ allow for watching at least two devices at a time, so find a buddy or two to share the cost of one account. Just set up a unique user profile for yourself within the account, so you can get personalized recommendations and don’t step on your buddy’s digital toes.
The buddy system works well for music streaming services with monthly subscriptions too. Spotify, Apple Music, and other audio streaming apps have family plans that allow you to share an account with up to 6 people, for just a little more than their regular subscription price.
For Amazon Prime, use their “households” feature to share an account between two different people. You and your buddy/sibling/significant other/parent can each have your own account and enjoy the free shipping, delivery, and Amazon Prime Video services, but for half the cost.
2. Lean on the library.
Libraries are more than books and people saying “shhh!” Modern libraries have caught up to modern content delivery with streaming services of their own—all you need is a library card for free access.
- Many libraries have created streaming apps, and they have a surprisingly wide selection of movies and TV shows.
- The streaming music game hasn’t gone unnoticed by libraries either. Many have a service that cardholders can use for free, with a selection to choose from
- If you’re paying for an audiobook membership, your local library can help you cross that off your monthly expenses. Most libraries allow you to check out audiobooks digitally (same goes for eBooks!) for little or no charge.
3. See if you qualify for discounts!
You might be eligible for a discount on streaming services without even realizing it. Many offer student discounts (as well as senior discounts). More and more employers are offering discounts or shared services on popular streaming services. Be sure to check out your cell phone carrier, too—many have partnerships with streaming services and offer free access to their customers!
See if you can save money by paying annually instead of monthly, if you can swing the up-front payment. You might be able to snag a good deal around Cyber Monday for certain services as well.
4. Fire up your laptop.
Several cable channels have a smart TV app you have to pay to access, but make episodes available free if you watch on your computer. If you’re dying to watch a hot new show without shelling out for yet another service (and you’re cool with commercials), snuggle up on the couch and watch on your laptop for free!
5. Check out your plan.
You might be paying for more than you need. For instance, the most common Netflix plan allows you to stream on up to two screens at once. If you’re the only one using your Netflix account, you’re never going to need that feature (unless you manage to clone yourself). Drop down to the one-screen plan and stop paying for features you don’t need.
As many services have added premium features and multiple account options over the past couple years, it’s a smart idea to check out what you’re actually paying for with each of your monthly subscriptions to make sure you’re not paying for features that go to waste.
Same goes for your cable company—if you only watch five or six of the 60 channels you’re paying for, maybe you can downgrade your plan without missing anything.
6. Check to see what else you’re paying for.
How many times have you signed up for a free trial and forgotten to cancel it before the trial period ended? It’s quite possible that you’re still paying for services you stopped using long ago!
It’s worth taking time to carefully review the charges in your account for any subscriptions you no longer use. Or try a service like Trim, which analyzes your transactions to find all recurring subscriptions.
Bonus tip: Keep an eye on your subscription spending with Expenses.
Because budgeting is built right into your Simple account, keeping track of what you’re paying for is effortless. Just create an Expense for each of your subscriptions—we’ll set aside the money you need for them every month, so you can spend less time managing your money and more time on movie nights.
We hope these tips will help you keep bingeing your favorite shows, movies, and music without breaking your budget!
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Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from Simple.com, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner bank, BBVA Compass, endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.