7 Subscription Services That Might Be a Complete Waste of Money

Subscription services can be convenient and necessary, but they tend to pile up if you’re not careful. Get enough of them leaching money from your bank account each month, and they can give your finances a serious pounding. Which makes whittling down your subscriptions one of the best ways to save money each month. Here are some of the subscription services you might be able to cut down on, or even get rid of altogether.

1. Amazon Subscribe & Save

Amazon boxes

Amazon boxes | Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty

Convenience is what drives the appeal of Amazon’s Subscribe & Save feature. For basic household necessities like paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, and diapers, all you have to do is set your subscriptions and forget about them, and never run out of a basic necessity again.

Unfortunately, there’s a potentially huge downside to Subscribe & Save: price hikes. As The New York Times has reported, Subscribe & Save is unlike other subscription services in that the price you pay for items can fluctuate, sometimes increasing by a large margin.

Subscribe & Save can be a fantastic way to save money, but only if you keep a close eye on your subscriptions each month. The best way to do it is to subscribe to the items you know you’ll need in the next month, then unsubscribe from each one once the shipment arrives. That way, you can keep tabs on what items you actually need each month without worrying about massive price increases. No reason to pay for something you don’t need, especially if you’ll be paying too much for it.

2. Hulu

Hulu logo

Hulu logo | Hulu

If you mostly use your Hulu subscription to watch recent episodes of network television shows, there’s an easy way to cut the Hulu subscription from your monthly finances. All you have to do is buy an antenna for your TV and hook up an over-the-air DVR, like a TiVo Roamio or any similar product. If you do buy a TiVo, make sure you get the All-In Service Plan, which gives you TiVoservice for the life of the device, with no monthly subscription payment required.

3. Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus

Xbox One S and controller

Xbox One S | Microsoft

If you have a game console, there’s a good chance you’ve subscribed to online services like Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus. These services are necessary for most people who own those systems, so it’s hard to cut them out entirely. Fortunately, the services give you free games each month that are worth much more than you’ll pay in subscription fees.

Also fortunately, you can save money on these services if you keep an eye out for discounts. The best way to find discounts is to go to SlickDeals and search for “Xbox Live Gold membership” or “PlayStation Plus membership.” Chances are, you’ll find a pre-paid card for around $40, which is $20 less than the standard price. You might also selectively suspend your service if you know you’ll be playing an offline game for a month.

4. Spotify

Streaming music

Streaming music | Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Spotify is a fantastic music service that offers up practically any song you want, whenever you want it — as long as you pay the monthly subscription cost.

What you might not know is that Spotify’s free service is nearly as good, as long as you don’t mind the occasional commercial interruption. And while the smartphone Spotify app limits what songs you can listen to on demand, that restriction doesn’t apply to tablets or computers. So if you mostly use a tablet or computer to listen to music, you can ditch the subscription for good.

5. Cable

Cutting the cable cord

Cutting the cable cord | iStock

Cutting the cord has long been a dream for anyone who’s sick of paying loads of money each month for dozens (or even hundreds) of channels they don’t watch. It’s now easier than ever to get all the TV channels or shows you want, without sending off a fortune to a cable company every month.

If you must have live cable TV, look into cheaper alternatives to cable like Sling TV or PlayStation Vue.

6. Modem

Cisco modem

Cisco modem | Cisco

While we’re on the subject of cable, let’s look at one related piece of hardware there’s a good chance you’re renting from your internet provider: your modem. Most internet providers make you pay a monthly fee for this piece of hardware you can easily buy yourself. Modems generally cost around $80, but you’ll almost certainly make it up in the first year you go without paying your internet provider to use their hardware. It’s an easy way to save money, especially since modems tend to last a long time.

7. HBO Go and HBO Now

Omar Little on HBO's 'The Wire'

Omar Little on The Wire | HBO

If you have Amazon Prime and you’re not obsessed with watching the latest HBO shows right when they air, you can do away with your HBO Go or HBO Now subscription. Amazon has a special deal with HBO that lets Amazon Prime members watch HBO shows that are no longer on the air.

So if you’re mostly interested in watching shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Oz, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, True Blood, and Boardwalk Empire, you can do so right in your Amazon Video app. They’re all there, alongside many others, including Amazon Prime originals like Transparent and The Man in the High Castle.

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