Product Reviews

How to Save Money on Your Digital Subscriptions

How manageable this is depends on the service. Most cloud storage services won’t delete your files if you stop paying, but will prevent you from adding any more or making any changes (we say “most”—check the small print to make sure.) In terms of software subscriptions, you won’t be able to use the software in question until you re-subscribe.

This perhaps works best for music and video streaming subscriptions, where you know you won’t be using them for an extended period of time: Maybe you’re going to give an alternative service a try, or you’ve finally watched everything there is to watch on Hulu. If and when you come back, everything will be just as you left it, as long as you return in a reasonable timeframe (check the small print again—it’s 10 months for Netflix).

With services that offer a free tier, taking time out is very simple. With Spotify, for example, you’ll still keep your music library: You just won’t be able to download playlists to your devices, or play songs in exactly the order you want, or listen without ad interruptions. When you’re ready to get going again, a few clicks or taps is all it takes.

Share With Your Family

Amazon Household lets you share a Prime subscription and digital content.

Photograph: Amazon via David Nield

You might be surprised at the number of digital subscriptions that offer family plans: At this point, it’s most of them. From Spotify and Amazon Prime, to Google One and Microsoft 365, you can usually get together with at least one other person and get the same deal for less money.

How much you’re actually going to save varies between services, so do your research before committing. In the case of YouTube Premium, for example, an individual plan will set you back $12 a month, whereas a family plan for you and up to five other family members is priced at $18 a month—split that by everyone involved and you’re saving a significant amount (you get YouTube Music included too, don’t forget.)

It’s also important to check the various restrictions and rules around family plans before buying them: In our YouTube Premium example, everyone in the family must be 13 or over, have their own Google account, and reside at the same address. If your brother is living on the other side of the world, this is likely to get flagged by YouTube.

The restrictions are the same on most (but not all) services, in that it’s where you live rather than how you’re related that matters. Some digital apps and services are fairly generous in letting you share logins between a handful of people, without paying any extra, but if you do this then we’d encourage you to do it safely.

Consider the Alternatives

LibreOffice is a full office suite that won’t cost you anything to use.

Photograph: LibreOffice via David Nield

We’re all now used to renting everything from cloud storage space to a music collection, but don’t forget that these aren’t the only options open to you. Install Plex, for example, and you can create a Netflix-like experience with your locally stored videos (Plex does have a subscription tier too, but a lot of its functionality is available for free).

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