So Many Subscriptions!

Our household is currently prioritizing getting our entertainment / discretionary spending under control, and – at least for me – a big part of that is figuring out where the money is going. Sure, I could have just made a spreadsheet, or gone super old school and written things down in a pocket sized notebook, but I decided to grab an app for that.

Spending Tracker is a pretty bare-bones budgeting app, but it had exactly the features I was looking for. I did pony up the $3 to unlock all of the paid features (which is not a subscription, but just a one time charge). At the beginning of the month, it resets my budget, carrying over any excess from the previous month, and then, whenever I spend money in the categories we’ve decided are part of discretionary spending, I log it.

I was a little thrown off, however, by how much of my monthly budget is tied up in subscription fees! We are excluding from our personal budgets services we both use, so this doesn’t even include our TV streaming services, our Audible account, or our Spotify family plan.

Currently in my monthly expenses I have subscriptions to World of Warcraft, XBox Game Pass, Humble Choice and GooglePlay Pass under gaming, as well as Kindle Unlimited under books. While I’m glad to mostly not be acquiring more stuff, I still feel like I’m not utilizing most of these well relative to their costs. While I realize we’ve been lucky to have had continued financial stability through the past couple years, but as a result, I’ve been throwing money at anything that looked like we might be able to squeeze a little distraction or joy out of it.

Over the next few months, I’m going to be taking a closer look of how much value I’m getting from each of these services. Although I have more free time than most, this is still probably quite a bit more media than any one person needs to have access to at any given time, especially when you factor in the media services we share. I can only read so many books, play so many games, and watch so much television in any given month.

Do you have any subscription services you can’t live without, or are you still paying subscriptions for things you honestly aren’t getting that much value from? Or are you the type of person who just wants to purchase all your media? Tell me about it in the comments.

7 thoughts on “So Many Subscriptions!

  1. What I tend to do when I sign up for a sub, if it’s a month-to-month thing, is sign up & immediately cancel. For every service I use, I still get access for the whole month, but then when it expires I only sub again once I miss it. Because too often it might be a weeks before I even realize it has expired.

    Of course then you lose out on any deals you might get from annual subs and stuff, so it’s a case-by-case basis. But I started doing this after realizing, a few different times, that I’d been paying for a sub for something for a few months and hadn’t used that service at all. It’s so easy to lose track!

    For Xbox Game Pass and Playstation Plus, I tend to “stock up” during big sales when multi-month subs are on sale and push my expiration date far into the future, but I know I’m going to stay subbed to those services anyway.

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    1. I think, outside of the services that I feel are permanent fixtures, I may work towards the sub-and-cancel method. I’ve done this on occasion, but not as often as I should (and finding out a service cuts you off on the cancel date instead of your renewal date assures I won’t use *that* again). I’ve also found that, once you’ve paid someone once, they will often give you immensely lower prices to give them money again.

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  2. This is a growing problem and it’s going to keep on getting bigger. I have subscriptions to Daybreak All Access, which I pay annualy, and Amazon Prime and Netflix, which are monthly. Mrs Bhagpuss and I both use the latter two. That’s all very manageable and good value, I think.

    However, I can’t watch a number of TV shows I would like to watch because they’re on other platforms, each of which requires a seperate subscription. In theory I could take the free week/month that many services offer, binge watch all the stuff I want, then cancel. Or I could follow Nimgimli’s very good advice and sub-and-cancel. The problem with that is, that’s not at all how I want to watch those shows. I like to spread my viewing out over a few weeks, watching one episode a day.

    I’m already starting to think that, outside of the couple of subs I already have, I’d be better off buying the shows/movies I specifically want to see as downloads or even better DVDs. That’s more expensive per item but I’d only need to buy a few and once bought, I’d have them for good. Shows I’m in the middle of watching vanishing from services I’m subbed to is already a nuisance and as competition increases, it’s getting worse and I do like to re-watch things, too. It’s very annoying to go back to something I enjoyed a couple of years ago and find it’s not on that platform any more. If I owned it, that wouldn’t be a problem.

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    1. I think a lot of the rent vs. buy question probably depends on *how* one prefers to consume media. I like having access to a lot of books, because with fiction, I tend to read something and never revisit it. Since I tend to rewatch far more often than I reread, buying movies and series is more appealing over all, but especially when it comes to tv shows, the price gap between “rental” and purchase is usually far too wide to justify the purchase.

      I do think Nimgimli has the right idea (at least for me) for the most part with a sub-then-cancel plan. Sure, I might find I’m still interacting with the same number of services in a year, but paying for half or less as many months, as I tend to interact with different forms of media sporadically.

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  3. Youtube Premium covers videos and music for me; Prime Video is fairly cheap where I live and covers a free Twitch channel sub, so I’m pretty okay with those. I get less use out of Netflix because I’m not in the habit of watching that much longform TV, but it’s a family sub and others watch more, so welp, I can live with that.

    I’ve been staring at Disney Plus for a while, but haven’t bitten, I’ll probably line up a list of everything I want to watch and make it a 2-3 month short sub project at some point. Humble Bundle is wearing a little thin, but in order not to lose the classic perks, I’ve shifted to monthly and decided to be more ready to pause when needed.

    I listen to audio books very poorly, so I’ve not found Audible essential, after trying their free trial. Game pass subs don’t really work for me; I play games piecemeal 30min-2 hours at a time, then drop it for months before getting an impulse to revisit. In that time, I suspect various games would have fallen off and been replaced by something else for game pass subs. So I’d rather build a cheap personal library of games during sale periods.

    For books, I’d check if any libraries near you offer Overdrive ebooks. Then it’s almost like having lots of books to access, without paying for Kindle Unlimited.

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    1. I’m currently trying out Scribd (I found a two month free trial), and it offers both ebooks & audiobooks for the same price as Kindle Unlimited, with a far better selection of things I’m interested in than KU or Audible, so I am leaning towards making that switch.

      I am, however, dreading the project of trying to whittle down the streaming services for TV & movies, because there’s a lot we’re splitting between two households (shhhh don’t tell!).

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  4. Absolutely not a fan ob subscriptions for most things, I kinda miss the “buy to use/play” era quite a bit (but if I play an MMO, say 15h per month, which I easily do when actively playing, then the sub is fine).

    That said, I’m usually good at cancelling on time and not let an MMO subscription run when I don’t play, the problem is more other stuff.

    Like we have Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime but I think they’re getting enough use (Prime is mostly for actual packages, not for the streaming – but I’m trying to use up the Twitch sub lately, so that’s a small bonus). Then I’m paying for a few servers, and for some MMOs. I’m personally really trying to not let them pile up for stuff I only personally use, but as I’m not living alone… But at least I still have a relatively good overview and the last “oh, we pay for that?” has been a while.

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