After reading our commentary on avoiding App Store subscription fatigue, I felt like I could tighten the belt as well. I have a lot of software, streaming, and entertainment subscriptions to help keep my ear to the ground for the site.
Being in the streaming-know comes with the territory, but for normal consumers, picking a few quality digital subscriptions is most important. As a new year clicked over, taking stock in my monthly cash outflow was important to re-adjust budgeting. Cancelling subscription service dollars is important for a healthier budget.
Understanding the severity of the problem
If you have not sat down and written down your subscription services, it may be shocking for the first time. I actually use an app called Bobby to keep track of my digital subscriptions. I also use it for “IRL” expenses, like monthly insurance bills, recurring expenses for home maintenance and the like. It’s a great tool to show how much money you are spending on these types of charges on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis. To prevent embarrassment, I included the App Store screenshots instead of my own!
Once I had everything there in front of me, I sorted the list into must-haves, really like to haves, and services that I could drop if they weren’t compelling enough. Really taking stock in what I use vs do not really ever use made it much easier to determine where I could easily save money without feeling like I was going to miss the service I was cancelling.
If you really want to get picky, when you are choosing two streaming services against the other, include the top shows that you follow on each service and determine which ones you can’t live without. If Game of Thrones was your top reason to keep HBO and you’ve watched the final episode, what’s making you spend the $15/month or $180/year to keep your access?
Cancelling subscription services can really add up quickly.
(Un)subscribing where it counts
To start eliminating that monthly subscription bill, YouTube TV was an easy choice. For clarity, I love YouTube TV. It is the best streaming, live TV service, hands down. But! When I signed up the first time it was only $35. Within the last 12 months, the price increased to $55 per month, if you are signing up via Apple App Store Subscriptions. Because Apple takes a chunk of the subscription, YouTube TV charges more for subscribing through Apple.
Aside from a $20 per month price hike, college football is over. It is great the subscription is month-to-month because it allows me to cancel in the off season. With the national championship behind us and the Super Bowl being offered for free via Fox, it was an easy choice to save the $55 per month.
Again, the service is incredible. It’s also great to turn it off when not needed.
Next up, Apple Arcade. I’m shocked this service is only $5 per month. Even better, subscribing annually saves $10, which equates to 2 free months. The quantity and quality of the content is impressive for $5. My original estimates were in the $20 per month range for a service like this, especially given the XBOX and PS4 controller support on macOS, tvOS, and iPadOS.
But, I rarely find time to game on any of my devices. At any given time, at any location, I have an iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro on my person. There just does not seem to be a good time to knock out game levels on my devices. This is more of a lifestyle situation than anything. Younger me would have been happy to keep paying the $5 per month to use the service, but I just could no longer justify the dollars paid out.
Most likely, I’m going to axe Hulu next. Currently, I’m paying $12 per month for Hulu without commercials. I would never consider downgrading and watching commercials, so it’s either on or off for me. With the amount of content scattered across the other services, I am having a hard time justifying the $144 per year for Hulu at this point.
What to do with all that money
After cancelling subscription services, I’m saving $60 per month before taxes. The total annual savings from YouTube TV, Hulu, and Apple Arcade is $864. This is great! There are a lot of things you can do with $60-$75 per month, or almost $900 per year. Maybe, I could pick up other services that I would actually utilize or pocket the difference for a rainy day.
A service I will not cancel is the app driven online whisk(e)y and liquor club, Flaviar. It’s amazing, boasting a veritable limitless bottle selection and free shipping for order. I also get four free bottles of my choosing per year, and a set of tasting samples every three months. The dues are $25 per month and worth much more to me than YouTube TV. Strange comparison, but they are both arguably forms of entertainment. You can join using my link and get a free $50 credit toward a full size bottle. No joke.
Other than fine whiskey, I am increasingly following the news and looking for long form content. In the near future, I may use some of that savings to re-subscribe to Apple News. When I traveled about 2-3 times per month, I had a subscription and loved it for long flights, but canceled when I spent more time around the house. I find I spend more time reading than consuming streaming services, and well written long-form content, other than books, is something I find myself drawn to at this moment. At $10 per month, the fee is a little more than I would prefer, but if it is a service I would actually use, the admission seems worth it.
Ultimately, after cancelling subscription services, it seems like I anticipate saving about $76, with taxes, per month across Hulu, YouTube TV, and Apple Arcade. Picking up Apple News is easily justifiable for $10 per month, given the savings on the other services. I’ll keep sipping on a nice whiskey, while reading some long form content and feel better knowing my subscription services are more in check.