I’ve been looking at how to save money on subscriptions. I actually have a lot of different subscriptions. In fact, I’m a fan of subscriptions. They add a lot of convenience to my life. In some cases, they save me a lot of money. However, it’s easy to end up spending money on them unnecessarily. Therefore, I’ve been reviewing what I have and how to save money on subscriptions wherever I can.
Types of Subscriptions
Here are the different types of subscriptions that I personally have:
- Streaming television subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, and Philo)
- Print magazine subscriptions
- Weekly farm food produce delivery
- Bi-monthly Amazon “subscribe and save” for household items
- Monthly Chewy “subscribe and save” for pet-related items
- Monthly deliveries of shaving supplies as well as contacts
Of course, there are also many other different types of subscriptions. I used to subscribe to a weekly (then monthly) household cleaning service. I’ve subscribed to wine clubs, monthly craft supply boxes, and laundry service. There are monthly subscription boxes for just about everything from underwear to beauty products.
How to Save Money on Subscriptions: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
In looking at all of the different ways to save money on subscriptions, I came up with a list of five questions that have helped me a lot. First, of course, I listed out all of my different subscriptions. I also added any that I don’t have but thought I might want. Then for each item on the list, I asked these five things:
1. Do I Need This Item At All?
The best way to save money on subscriptions is to cancel them entirely. Do I need this item? If I don’t need it, do I really want it? In other words, if this isn’t necessary, is it a luxury that I am willing to pay for, and that fits in my budget? For example, I don’t need magazine subscriptions. As a result, I canceled most of them. However, there are a few that I really like. I find them beneficial for my work. Therefore, I kept those.
Similarly, I do need shaving supplies and contacts. (These are arguable for some people, but in my opinion, I need them, I’m going to buy them, and therefore these subscriptions fall under “need” even though I realize that in some ways they’re a luxury.)
2. Is the Subscription Saving Money Over Other Buying Methods?
If there’s an item that I’m going to buy anyway, such as the contacts above or shaving supplies, then does the subscription save me money? If I didn’t get my contacts via subscription, then I would most likely buy them at my local eye doctor. I’d have to go in there every six months to get them, which is inconvenient. Plus they cost more that way.
Likewise, I’m going to buy produce. Buying it through farm food delivery is cheaper for me than buying it at my local store. Therefore, at least at this stage of asking the questions, keeping that subscription makes sense.
3. Is There a More Affordable Subscription?
Once I’ve decided that I “need” a subscription and that it costs less than more traditional buying methods, I have to ask if it costs less than other similar subscriptions. For example, I get my shaving supplies through the Dollar Shave Club. However, there are other options, such as Harry’s, that provide a similar service. It’s time for a cost comparison. If there is a comparable subscription that is more affordable, then it makes sense to switch.
4. How Can I Reduce the Cost of This Subscription?
Alternatively, I might keep a subscription but find ways to reduce the cost. For example, services like Netflix and Hulu offer different tiers of plans. I used to pay $9.99 per month for a Spotify subscription and $11.99 per month for a Hulu subscription with a no-commercials plan. However, I learned that I could bundle the two for just $9.99 total. The catch is that I have to have commercials on Hulu now. Nevertheless, that’s a nice chunk of change to save each year.
In some cases, you can contact the company and ask about their current deals. Alternatively, you might switch to a different company (we’re going back to question three here) that offers a lower price thanks to being a newcomer to the service, using a referral or promo code, etc.
5. When Should I Review This Again?
Once I have decided to keep or start a subscription, I make a note on my calendar about when to review this again. Magazine subscriptions typically last one year, so about nine months after subscribing, I review them again to see if I want to keep or cancel them. With services that don’t have such an obvious renewal date, I choose 3, 6, 9, or 12 months away for the next review. That depends on the service and how likely I am to change it.
At that time, I go through these questions again. Sometimes I discover that a service I thought I “needed” can really be cut out. Sometimes I realize I can switch to a cheaper subscription. Whatever I decide, I feel confident that I’ve been thoughtful about it and made a good choice as to how to save money on subscriptions.