START TRACKING YOUR SPEND
Get to know where you spend, how it makes you feel and what really matters when it comes to your money!
Let's stop pretending that being good at money means you need to be good at math. Instead, let's listen to our body and our mind.
Picture this: it’s Friday night, and instead of going out with your friends you decide to stay in and save money. You make the responsible choice that everyone wants to make but doesn’t always achieve. You congratulate yourself by listening to Spotify while you make a home-cooked meal and spend the rest of the night binge-watching a new Netflix docuseries.
Sound familiar? Same.
These days, CDs and iTunes gift cards are nearly irrelevant. Now, all we need is our family account on Apple Music and a Disney + account to listen to our favourite music and watch our favourite movies.
These low-cost monthly membership platforms have made our lives much more manageable and built some of our most enjoyed passive activities (aside from scrolling on our phone) to become affordable again. But how budget-friendly are they really? You might be spending more on memberships than you realize.
Cord-cutting is a common habit from younger generations who are trying to lessen their fixed monthly expenses. On average, people spend nearly $85 a month on cable services, that they don’t watch or enjoy. Given that they have to wait for commercials and don’t get to choose when they watch their shows, it seems wrong to shell out a good chunk of money for cable when you could cut that amount in half to pay for a subscription service.
New to your budget might be the line item called subscription services and memberships. Streaming services like Netflix, Crave, Hulu and HBO come in at an affordable price of around $33 per person each month for multiple accounts. But is that really all you pay?
In the United States, 70% of households have at least one streaming service, with each membership costing them around $8.53 per month. According to a study, each house typically has approximately 3.4 services, taking them to a grand total of just under $30 per month. However, where do we draw the line with what we include in our membership costs and accounts?
Consider every single account you own that costs you a monthly subscription fee or annual bill. In fact, write them down.
When I heard about Disney + coming out, I knew that I wanted to create an account and start paying for the service. However, I had to think about whether or not this additional expense would be worth it. After all, I did already have Netflix. Did I really need another streaming service? To be sure, I did a little bit of inventory and created a spreadsheet that helped me realize what I was paying for as far as memberships go each month and whether or not it was worthwhile.
Cable + Internet
After doing an inventory check, I was honest with myself in how much I use each of these services and whether or not they were worth keeping. I found that the only service that I don’t use regularly enough was cable, which is hard to eliminate for a few reasons:
It’s bundled with my internet
I like the ability to PVR certain shows that I can’t get on a streaming service
It’s nice to watch local sports when they’re on TV
Without cable, my subscription services still cost me $152.97 — not a cheap expense by any means. Of the remaining services, I use those accounts daily or weekly, and some of them are necessary for my career. Therefore, I’m stuck in a place where need and want isn’t an easy decision to make.
Financially, I can afford these memberships. However, that doesn’t mean I think it’s a good idea to drop $150 on them each month. In the summertime, I have less of a need for my work subscriptions, so I could easily cancel the recurring payments, and I could cancel Netflix and opt for Disney + instead so that I’m only paying for one membership.
However, it’s tough to decide. I know some friends who have Crave, Netflix and Disney + — which cannot be cheap. So, what are some ways you can identify which memberships you need?
Track your usage. How much do you use that membership each month, and how much does it end up costing you per use? For example, I use my Netflix twice a week, which means that it ends up costing $1.87/use. Not bad for a Friday night in. I use my Apple Music account daily, and so does my husband because we have a family account, which makes this well worth the cost.
How do you prefer to consume media? If you’re always reading the news online, you likely don’t need to spend $40 each month to watch your cable.
What does the streaming service offer? If you currently pay for Crave and Hulu, decide which service offers more of your favourites. The reason we tend to pay for multiple services is that we can’t get all of our shows in one place, but beggars can’t be choosers. Especially when it comes to budgeting.
If you are interested in adding another subscription service to your budget in the future, it’s always a good idea to have some regulations in place to make that decision an easy one. Here are some of the rules I’ve implemented in my decision-making process:
One in, one out. Any time I add a new service, an old service has to go.
Find a buddy. If I add a more expensive service, it’s always handy to find a friend who is willing to split the cost with me.
Estimate the cost per use. Are you going to use this service enough to get it down to less than $2/use? Choose a number that you’re comfortable with.
At the end of the day, streaming services and membership stacking is only a problem if you’re abusing the number of accounts you’ve signed up for. At first, it can seem low-cost and affordable, but as soon as you consider how much you pay in total, you might reconsider how budget-friendly these services indeed are.
Oh no, you missed the live webinar! But, good news: Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a resource for anyone planning for a future child or family.
Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone looking to cut back on non-essential spending. My most-requested product is these monthly calendars to share on your Instagram story, use as a phone background, or print off to track your spending habits.