Using Subscriptions Strategically: How to Stream Your Favorite Shows without Killing Your Wallet

        I cut the cord in 2017. This was a big decision for me. As someone who lives alone I use the television as background noise. I’m also that person that needs it to fall asleep at night. So deciding to get rid of cable was an action met with hesitation. However, the cost - roughly $134 at the time (which included the internet) and constantly rising every year made me decide that in order to save money this was something I would need to do. But I didn’t want to make the cut until I knew I had streaming services in place that still met my needs.
  • I am a huge fan of comedies, so having access to sitcoms and being able to watch seasons while they were currently being aired was a must, so I knew I needed Hulu ($5.99/month).
  • I’m a big fan of HBO’s Insecure which was about to premiere it’s new season, Games of Thrones was coming back in a few months, and let’s not forget about some of my other favs like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Veep, so HBO definitely had to be on the list ($14.99/month).
  • What about movies? HBO could help cover this need but Netflix also has some good ones, even if it takes 30 minutes of searching to find them. Not to mention I do like a lot of their original series (Atypical, Dear White People, Stranger Things, to name a few) and again, it’s Netflix so add it (12.99/month)! 
  • My last must was having access to live local news. I know a lot of people probably don’t watch their local news but for me it’s a part of my morning routine as I get ready for work. Using the weather forecast to help decide what I’m going to wear or traffic/commuting updates, to help me determine which metro line I should avoid and whether or not I should expect delays; I needed these live updates. After doing some research, I decided that SlingTV was a good option, so it also made the list ($24.99).
        Now on their own each subscription cost is pretty reasonable for what they were offering but if you’re keeping up with the math I easily racked up a $60/month bill or $720/year (I’d also like to point out that I was using the cheapest option on all of these services except for SlingTV), and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

        With hundreds of streaming services available, the costs can quickly add up if you’re not careful. So how can you still view your favorite shows and/or movies without draining your wallet? Well, here are a few tips to keep the cost low without missing out.

Take Advantage of Free Trials

        Streaming services generally offer a free trial to potential customers. Usually seven days, but you can get Prime video for 30 days when signing-up for an Amazon Prime trial membership. Also a lot of services extended their trial memberships due to COVID-19. So how can you use trial memberships to work for you?
  • Wait until you know a show that you really want to watch is coming out or the entire season has aired. This way you know your seven days won’t go to waste and you’ll have ample time to watch. For instance, I don’t have children and I’m not a fan of superhero movies so subscribing to Disney+ wasn’t of interest. However, when they released Hamilton (which I absolutely love) I knew I wanted to be able to watch it again. I didn’t want to pay $5.99/month just to be able to watch one film so using the free trial subscription was not only ideal, it also made sense.
  • When you do this just be sure to set-up a calendar reminder to remember to cancel the membership before your trial ends. Companies bank on you not remembering to do this and therefore paying for a subscription for months and/or years.
  • Also take advantage of extended trial memberships if offered. Some companies will offer to extend your trial membership if you opt to cancel. Sometimes this will happen right away, sometimes you may have to wait a few months but if the company offers, take them up on it. Just remember to update the cancellation reminder in your phone.
Build a Team

        People always joke about bumming off of their parents Netflix account or maybe brag about still using their exes YouTube or Hulu account (you know it’s really over when they change their password). But I realized instead of ‘free-loading’ on others accounts (I mean we’re all working adults) why not build a team of accounts. One day last summer I was talking to a friend and we discovered we were paying for the exact same streaming services. This didn’t make sense. Instead we decided to choose a service or two to pay for and then just share accounts, thus building a team. Everyone contributes, everyone benefits. This allowed us to keep the same service for half the price. Building a trustworthy team not only increases your available content it also keeps everyone’s streaming expenses low.

Don’t Forget Free Preview Weekends

        When I still had cable, I had a subscription to Showtime but there weren’t many shows on the network (other than Shameless) at the time that I was into to compel me to keep the service after I cut the cord. However, it was a show that I had dedicated a lot of time too and was interested in seeing how it played out. So I took advantage of free preview weekends that SlingTV would host periodically in an effort to get people to sign-up for premium channels, bingeing an entire season in 48 hours.

Suck it Up and Watch Commercials

        This may be a little harder for Gen-Z - that grew-up on Netflix and YouTube. And it may be unacceptable to all those ‘snooty’ Millennials that soon forgot that we grew up watching commercials, but if you are not opposed to watching ads there are streaming services out there like Tubi, IMDbTV, and Pluto TV that are completely free. Now would I use any of these as my main or only streaming service? Probably not. But they are alternatives that offer nostalgia, some hidden gems and additional options in this time when people are spending more time at home. Oh, and did I mention they’re completely FREE!


        Streaming shows and movies are the new way of life. Many of us left cable to help save money and it's predicted that by 2022 over half of Americans will have cut the cable cord. While cutting the cord may be freeing, just keep in mind that the price can add up if you're not being mindful. Don't let your streaming services expense become equivalent to your old cable bill.

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  1. Awesome post! I agree that cable and internet combined is so expensive that it’s just easier not to have it. I have Netflix and Hulu and get by fine without cable. We only pay for internet and it’s definitely saving us money!

    1. Thanks for the comment Jojo! After cutting the cord I thought I would miss cable but actually I don't because I've found ways to still watch my favorite shows. And only paying for internet can help save money.

  2. Yes the subscription services can sneak up on you out of nowhere. As I worked on making a new budget this week, I took mine and my husband’s credit card and bank statements for the past 12 months and highlighted the subscription services. We had 4 or 5 that we forgot but that we were paying for?!!?! Also, I totally wait until a season is over or near its end to watch it within a trial-subscription period ha....that calendar entry is so key. Although I try to make sure to put recurring if it’s an annual fee or else it might be forgotten about šŸ˜”.....Ha you watch the local news for the weather report. There at an app for that u know. šŸ˜jkšŸ¤Ŗ.........good article!

    1. Hahaha yes I watch the local new for the weather report! I like watching it on TV as opposed to on my phone because for me it just hits differently LOL.

      Thanks for sharing and you bring up a good point about going over your past statements to see where exactly your money is going. I'm actually drafting a post about this now.

  3. Pluto tv is my jam! I needed to read this today, my streaming situation is getting kind of out of hand

    1. LOL! Thanks for the comment, yes it is very easy for the streaming situation to get out of hand and I didn't even touch on music apps in this post!

  4. There's so many streaming sites now so it can be really difficult to avoid spending loads of money! These are some great tips though, thanks for sharing! Katie (The Twenty Percent)

    1. I know right! That's why I'm all about building a team. Thanks for the comment Katie!

  5. Amazing post!!! I don't believe I'm cable because it is not a necessity. When my husband and I got married 4 years ago we decided not to go with cable and have been saving.

    However I do have all the other subscriptions ��. On Amazon prime I always do thr 7 days trial and then cancel. It's great way to save a little money.

    Thanks for the amazing tips, will definitely look to see how much I can cut back.

    1. Thanks for the comment Rebekah! Yes, am an avid user of Amazon's free trials. LOL

  6. Yesss! I cut off my cable last year and just started Hulu Live. I do also have Prime, but my family uses the Prime services often. I went from paying $200+/month to about $120/mth. Saving a little. This article did give me some good ideas though. I was going to try PlutoTV for free. Now I will try it. Thanks for the suggestions!

    1. So I just found out the other night that you can save money by paying for your Hulu subscription service annually. I use Hulu on a regular basis and am highly unlikely to stop anytime soon I decided to take them up on their offer and saved about $12. It's not a lot but every little bit count. Also, you're using Hulu Live which is their premium service so I'm sure your savings would most likely be a lot higher. Check it out if you get a chance!


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