3 Tips To Help You Save Money On Your Favorite Streaming Services

There are an almost overwhelming number of video streaming services available these days — from older plans like Netflix and Hulu to newer services like Disney+ and HBO Max. And the fact that many of the movies and TV shows we want to watch are exclusively tied to specific platforms (with some franchises even spread across more than one service, looking at you, "How to Train Your Dragon") doesn't help either. It makes it difficult to figure out which streaming services fit our needs best, and of course, more subscriptions mean higher payments. While it would be easy to say "just don't subscribe to anything," it's not realistic (or fair) to tell someone to effectively give up on an entire source of entertainment.

So it ultimately boils down to figuring out a way to have access to the shows and films you want, while keeping costs as manageable as possible — and without driving people back to piracy.

Keep it simple

First and foremost, don't overcomplicate things for yourself. Try to stick to only a handful of subscriptions at a time, and if you find yourself beginning to lose track of what you do and don't have (or start using a list or spreadsheet to keep track of it all), consider dropping some memberships. One poll showed that 57% of Americans were planning to cut at least one streaming service (via Study Finds). If you're one of them, pick one or two plans that you know you'll never want to get rid of and stick with them exclusively. Or keep your mainstays and leave a spot or two open for trying out other services.

Take time to really think about the shows and movies you really want to watch, and if any of the subscriptions you currently have don't apply (or limited offerings compared to other services), give them the axe. Look into physical media as well, because it's ultimately cheaper to buy a DVD or boxed set one time and have it forever than to pay monthly or yearly for access.

Sometimes we'll forget about the things we're paying for, too. If you're trying to save money, one of the last things you want is to receive a monthly bill for something you haven't been using. So if you find that you keep forgetting that you have a particular subscription, drop it. You can always sign up again later if you change your mind.

Start a streaming service rotation

But what if there are a lot of things you really want to watch that are spread over many streaming platforms? Then it's time to think about joining the rotating streaming services trend.

Again, it's best to keep things relatively simple so you don't end up accidentally forgetting to cancel something or lose track of what's watchable where, but shuffling around two or three streaming services at a time will keep costs from building up while still giving you access to most of what you want to see.

Wait for the full season of a show you want to watch on HBO Max to come out before signing up, then watch it all in a month or two and cut it off again so you're only paying for the time you're using it. If there's nothing on Paramount+ that you're interested in for the time being (or if you know something you'll watch isn't due out for several months or more), drop the service in favor of a different one.

Don't forget to also keep track of a plan's billing cycle, because you don't want to cancel right after being charged for renewal if you can avoid it. 

Hold out for deals

Every now and then you might spot a limited-time deal for a streaming service. This can include special prices on bundles, a temporary price drop for one month, and more. It's a great way to try out a streaming platform you may be curious about.

This approach also works well with the plan rotation technique. You can't really apply temporary price drops to a subscription you already have, but if a promotion kicks in for one of the plans you've canceled, you should be able to get it back while saving yourself some money in the process.

Of course, it's important to also consider whether or not you actually want any of the services that are offering subscription deals. Tempting though it may be to sign up for a month of Disney+ at $1.99, and $2 isn't much, it's still a waste if you don't actually want to watch anything Disney+ has to offer. The same goes for bundles: If it's cheaper to get three plans together rather than individually, but you only want two of the three, check to see what the two would cost separately before signing up. The two might still be cheaper than the three, which would save you a bit of money and also keep you from being saddled with a third plan you don't actually want.