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Are Subscriptions Making Us Poorer?

Are Subscriptions Making Us Poorer?

| November 02, 2018
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According to a Survey done by Instamotor, 1 in 10 millennials spend

at LEAST $200 per month on subscription services.

Recently Netflix came out with their 3rd quarter report. They announced an additional 7 million subscribers during this time, which prior there was a concern they were running out of subscribers. According to a study done by Deloitte, 55% of households in America subscribe to at least one streaming service with total spending of $2.1 billion a month- A month!

Aside from the amount being spent on streaming subscriptions monthly, what about all the other subscription services out there? Although many people are cutting cable cords and opting for streaming services- are we really saving money? A lot of times you need to ramp up your internet speeds for these services to work properly causing an increase in internet spending.

Additionally, there are so many other types of subscriptions from meal kits, clothing, music streaming, gym memberships and magazines to name a few. I see new subscription service advertisements popping up daily on my social media accounts. The question is where do we draw the line with all these options out there?

I did an office poll and the average spending is $210 on subscriptions a month – or about $2,500 a year. Subscriptions ranged from streaming services to clothing boxes to movie theater memberships. Not to mention, some of these subscriptions get you to spend even more money. For example, you buy a subscription to Amazon Prime not only for the streaming services but for the “free” two-day shipping – where there are endless things you can buy.

I see why buying these subscriptions are attractive- I definitely have engaged in these purchases myself. The amount you pay per subscription does not seem like a lot until you start adding up how many you are actually paying for. A lot comes out of your bank account automatically making it feel like a “blind purchase” since you are not really thinking about it. Sometimes the convenience of it makes it enticing since you have more time to do things you enjoy rather than wasting time having to go to the store.

These subscriptions come at a cost to the consumer, but what about the environment? I try to order as many things I need at once on websites like Amazon so that I utilize one box, but many times they still come in multiple boxes and is out my control. Now that more and more stores are offering fast shipping (with a subscription or not), it means the amount of cardboard boxes used has increased over the years. Although cardboard boxes are recyclable, these boxes are not always making it into the recycle bin and end up in landfills.

Is there a solution?

I think it’s important to evaluate what subscriptions are improving your life and which are not. Netflix for example- I can stay in and watch a movie for the night versus going out and I know I will end up spending less. However, a meal kit subscription which costs $60 per week for 3 meals is not really saving me time or money at the grocery store as it does not include all the necessities I need for the week.

Some other tips when it comes to subscriptions:

  1. Look to see if you can reduce the amount of subscriptions you have by how much of the same things you are getting from each subscription. A lot of these streaming services may have the same shows and movies on them.

  2. Write down everything you are subscribed to. Which of these subscriptions are you actually using? Which are you not? Maybe get rid of the ones you do not use frequently enough to justify paying for or do not have a good value.

  3. If there is a subscription service you really enjoy and someone is looking to get you a gift for holidays, see if they will purchase you a gift card towards the service or even maybe pay a couple months on your behalf.

  4. Try doing larger one time orders on websites rather than ordering one or two things at a time. I know it takes longer, but if you opt for the longest shipping method, most likely there will be less use of boxes getting all of your items to you. Try to reuse boxes OR get them to a recycle bin.

  5. If you are trying a subscription out for the first time and decide you do not like it- try and be proactive about canceling it. Many people forget to cancel and continue to pay for something they do not want and are not using (this is how companies make money!)

  6. Do your research! There are plenty of reviews, blogs, etc. that try out subscriptions and let you know if they are worth it or not.


As I conclude, I want to let you know this blog is more food for thought. I do not think subscriptions are bad in any way. It is important to look at how many subscriptions you have and if they are economically and (if important to you) environmentally friendly. But my last takeaway is, what would you do with that $2,500 extra a year if you did NOT subscribe to anything? I would most likely be on a beach somewhere.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide any specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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