Flexibility, saving money, and watching on the go are all reasons you should say goodbye to cable TV. With more streaming services on the market, cord-cutters have grown in number as well. The only problem is, you have a long list of subscriptions from services like Hulu and Netflix. How can you keep track of them all, in addition to the growing costs? The last thing you want is to feel overwhelmed from organizing entertainment that’s supposed to be fun.
Luckily, applying a few fundamental organizational principles will make it easy. Here are seven tips for keeping track of your streaming subscriptions without spending an extra dime.
Write It Down
You’d be shocked by how many people overspend on services they either forgot about or don’t use anymore. It’s easy to forget you even subscribed to a service in the first place until the automatic monthly payments hit your bank account, when you wish you could rewind time to cancel before the renewal date.
The first step to eliminating the problem going through your bank account and making a list of streaming services that have charged you. Write it down on your phone, in a spreadsheet, in a note-taking program like Notion or Evernote, or on good, old-fashioned pen and paper. The services and their monthly costs feel more manageable when you have a record of them.
Cancel Unused Subscriptions
Do you have too many subscriptions? Unlike during the Dark Ages, when you locked yourself into a cable contract for a year, cord-cutters can cancel and renew monthly subscriptions as many times as they want. So take advantage of this beautiful aspect of streaming!
Did you finish that Netflix show you were bingeing and now you have no idea what to watch? Cancel Netflix and get Hulu. Want to watch “The Mandalorian” on Disney Plus but you're not interested in anything else in its library? Sign up for one month, watch the show, and then cancel.
If it’s not providing value, it’s not worth your money. Keep only what you need and you’ll have less to keep track of.
Use Watchlist Apps
Here’s the problem: You go on Netflix to watch “The Dropout,” one of the best true-crime dramas in recent years. You search the library but can’t find it. Then you remember it was on Hulu.
If you watch multiple shows on different streaming services, there are apps that can help you keep track of what you’re watching and where. Start with the following watchlist apps:
- JustWatch allows you to search titles and see where they’re streaming, track shows you like, and navigate directly from its listing to the streaming service.
- Hobi lets you create a watchlist, save where you left off during your favorite show, and set reminders for new episodes.
- Cinetrak will track movies and TV shows you’ve saved, create calendars, and recommend new titles.
The apps are free to download, but you’ll need to pay for any premium features you want to use.
Download a Budgeting App
If the costs of your subscription addiction are starting to pile up, you may need to set a budget. Plenty of tech tools will do the job for you. You don’t even need to pay for a budgeting tool; free ones are simple and provide enough features for beginners. Here are a few budgeting apps to check out:
- Goodbudget is a virtual version of the cash-stuffing method of budgeting, where you allocate money to “envelopes.”
- EveryDollar walks beginners through the budgeting process, allowing you to divide up existing funds, link accounts, categorize expenses, and more.
- Mint is a top-rated budgeting app that gives you free access to your credit score and teaches you how to improve it by setting reminders and making payments on time.
Set Calendar Reminders
If you’re a fan of the free-trial-and-ditch maneuver, the calendar app is your best friend. Always set a reminder to cancel before your free trial is up so you don’t get bitten by an unexpected charge.
Even if you plan to subscribe, it's always good to know when your payments are coming up throughout the month. Set a reminder in your calendar app and never let a payment take you by surprise again.
Change Your Smartphone Settings
Do you mainly stream on your smartphone or tablet? There’s an easy way to see all your subscriptions in one place.
On an Apple device, go to your settings and find “Subscriptions” under your Apple ID. You can cancel and subscribe without going into each app. On an Android device, you can do the same thing in the Google Play store by clicking on your avatar in the right-hand corner.
Set Up a Password Manager
PSA: You don’t need to remember all your passwords anymore. Also, using the same password for everything is unsafe. Let’s introduce you to password managers.
LastPass is an extension that allows you to save passwords for each site, remembers log-ins, logs you in securely, generates unique secure passwords for each site, and lets you see all your passwords in one place with a master password.
If you don’t like the idea of your passwords being online, try KeePass, which is an encrypted database of passwords that saves locally on your computer.