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How to Take Control of Your Subscriptions and Boost Your Savings

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Why does it seem like all the shows I want to watch are scattered across 17 different streaming services—all of them with different subscriptions? I might be exaggerating slightly, but only slightly. If you want to keep up with the pop culture zeitgeist, that ends up being a lot of subscriptions and can be more money than you want to spend. With that in mind, here are some tips for taking control of your subscriptions and keeping more money in your pocket.


There are so many different platforms for us to stream recorded content and live TV these days: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, Max, Sling TV, Fubo, Peacock, Paramount Plus. And that’s without mentioning music (Spotify Premium or Apple Music), magazines (everyone loves a good New Yorker cartoon), or other subscription memberships (the gym, Peloton, online video games, paid budgeting apps, and so on).

(In fact, streaming services have become so prevalent that it feels like you hardly hear the phrase “cord cutting” anymore. It’s like we have come to an understanding: This is how we take in content now. Pretty soon we’ll be back to the cable model by bundling our streaming subscriptions.)

With so many platforms out there, it’s pretty easy to suffer from what I call the “streaming services creep.” That’s where you check out a show here and a show there, or maybe you signed up for a couple of free trials and forgot to cancel. Before you know it (or perhaps without knowing it, with those pesky automatic payments after a “free” trial), you have five different streaming services, a magazine, and a couple paid apps costing you over $100 a month. Over the course of a year, that adds up to the cost of a plane ticket to visit a faraway friend, a luxurious staycation or long weekend away, or, more responsibly, one of your monthly mortgage or car payments.

So, what are we to do about the streaming services creep?



Review your transactions over the past month (like you might your calendar to see how you spend your time) and identify any subscriptions you’re paying for. Add up the cost and see what your monthly subscription bill is. If it’s comfortable for you and fits your budget, great! You’re all set. If it’s on the steep side, now’s the time to buckle down and tighten the belt a bit.



Many apps out there can help you identify your subscriptions and even cancel the ones you don’t want. If you subscribed through your Android or iPhone, you can manage them right there on your mobile device. There are also third-party apps like Rocket Money or Simplifi by Quicken that can help. Just be careful not to fall into the trap of paying a monthly subscription to cancel your monthly subscriptions!



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I’m as guilty as anyone of having too many subscriptions just so I can keep up with the popular shows: House of the Dragon (Max), Bridgerton (Netflix), The Bear (Hulu), and Fallout (Prime), to name a few current ones. But it all adds up and now it’s time to choose, Survivor-style.

What shows are you actually watching? Which subscriptions do you use the most? Which ones are best for your health (physical and mental)? Which ones align with your goals (life, financial, or otherwise)?



You don’t have to give up subscriptions entirely to save money. Here are a few methods you can use to have your cake and eat it, too, so to speak.

  • Look for a cheaper alternative: If you’re splurging on YouTube TV for $75 a month, could you cut back to $40 and settle for Sling, another live streaming service? Could you use the summer months to exercise outdoors and save on your gym membership? Explore your options and see where you get the most bang for your buck.
  • Make it a family plan: It’s more than likely that one of your friends or family members is using the same subscription service as you. Join forces! Many platforms allow you to have multiple profiles/users, which ends up being cheaper than each of you having your own subscription.
  • Strike a deal: If you ever had cable, you know that they loathe to lose a customer. If you threatened to cancel, you’d suddenly find they had all sorts of deals and promotions they could offer you. Don’t be afraid to put on your negotiator hat and see if you can get a better price on your subscription. The worst they can say is no!



Don’t make this a one-and-done deal. Periodically check your transactions to see if any subscriptions have snuck up on you that you don’t want to be paying for each month.



For some, it might seem like much ado about nothing if you cancel a $10 subscription or two. You might wonder, how much does that really impact my finances?

It might not seem like a lot in a vacuum but remember: a dollar spent on subscriptions is a dollar you’re not saving towards your emergency fund, retirement plans, or some other savings goal. If you are clear on your financial and life goals, it’s easier to prioritize where you want to spend your money and feel better about how you’re spending it. Every bit counts, and a little money can go a long way with a little time and the power of compounding interest.


It’s not rocket science (unless Rocket Money counts?), but it’s easy to overlook these small expenses that add up over time. By taking control of your subscriptions and making mindful choices, you can boost your savings and ensure you’re spending your money on what matters to you.

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Nick Bohlen

About Nick Bohlen

Nick Bohlen is a communications strategist at VSECU, sharing ideas and information with staff, members, and Vermonters. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, traveling, and exploring Vermont’s great outdoors with his wife, daughter, and dog.
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