One of the biggest criticism currently leveled at the world of cord cutting is the number of subscriptions people are now expected to have.
Social media right now seems to be awash with people complaining that their one payment to [choose your cable provider] has now turned into four, five, six, and even ten subscriptions.
Yes, your time is important. Yes, making sure the funds are there at different times of the month to pay for these subscriptions is important. But, no, one payment should not be enough of a reason to return to cable.
Too many subscriptions is not how to cord-cut
We’ve already discussed how cord cutting is actually about choice and not price, but here’s the real secret to cord cutting. The one that will save you the most money each year, the one that will cut down on the number of subscriptions each moth, and the one where put simply – you win.
Do. Not. Subscribe. To. Any. Service. On. A. Permanent. Basis.
Netflix, CBS, Cinemax, ESPN+, HBO, Prime Video, Showtime, Starz, the list goes on, and will get even bigger going forward and once even more major networks and studios, including Disney and WarnerMedia, jump on the bandwagon.
But no one says you have to subscribe to them all. More importantly, no one says you have to subscribe to them all, at the same time.
It doesn’t matter what service we are talking about here as the same rules apply. Yes, even Netflix. If you are up to date on Netflix, or there’s nothing that’s majorly grabbing your attention this month, then drop it.
Don’t think about it, drop it, and subscribe to HBO for a month instead. Once you’re up to date with HBO…drop it and move on as well.
Rinse and repeat.
Only pay for what you are watching this month
To really save big you need to get out of the habit of paying for 12 months of HBO just so you can watch Game of Thrones for one week of the year. The same goes for Disney. Unless you absolutely need to watch Disney every day, then don't pay every day for it. Choose your month and indulge in all the Disney you can eat for that month, and then move on.
Having any kind of loyalty to a network now is something you pay for. So remove that notion from your head completely. HBO and Netflix will manage just fine without you so don't believe those "we'll miss you" emails and notifications they send out when you cancel – they won't miss you.
Likewise, when you are ready to return to them again for the next cord cutting hit-and-run, they’ll welcome you back with open arms. In fact, they'll even boast about it in their next quarterly results.
If you’re just a number to them, then they should just be a number to you as well. A $ number.
In this example, we've taken the point to the extreme a little by suggesting you should cycle through all networks and services on a monthly basis. In reality, you don’t even need to do that. You can, and will save massively if you do, but you don’t need to. But what you definitively shouldn't be doing is just continuously paying for all of them, every month.
For example, you can subscribe to any number of the services you need at a given time, as the point here is to simply bounce between the ones you don't need less regularly and focusing only on the content you plan to watch this month. If you have plenty of stuff to watch on your Netflix and you know you’re not going to get around to checking out what’s on CBS or Disney for the next few weeks, then why pay for those services in the meantime?
It doesn’t make any sense. Even if you are someone who doesn’t know what they are going to watch week by week or month by month, then you can still switch on and off content as and when it suits you.
Learn to love canceling
Nearly all of these services let you cancel at any point in the month, and let you retain access to the service for the rest of the month – after all, you’ve already paid for the month. So you can cancel them all and then just reignite any subscription when you realize you want to watch something on that network. Pay for that month, then cancel again. The cycle continues.
If that means one day or eight months after the previous month you’ve paid for has ended, that’s still one day or eight months worth of savings. Over the year you'll find those savings add up quick and you'll probably also find you don't need to be subscribed to as many services as you originally thought you did.
Not only will you benefit this way in terms of pure cash savings, but you'll also find that routinely throughout the year these same companies will start to offer you one week or one month for free if you come back. That in itself is further prove of the power shift from them to you, and taking advantage of those to binge whatever you've missed since you've been away might help to delay your next leave of absence – every day, week or month saved through cord cutting is real-world money savings.
Even if 'canceling and re-signing up' is sounding like too much work, then that's another mindset you need to change. In reality, we are only talking about the click of a button in most cases. These companies will already have your payment details on file from when you first signed-up, so once you are looking to return again all you’ll technically be doing is reactivating your account each time.
Again, most of the time this will be a single button press. Worst case scenarios – two clicks as these companies tend to make it as easy as possible for you to come back.
Prime Video is the exception to the rule
The one exception to this rule is Amazon Prime Video.
You shouldn’t be paying Prime membership prices just for Prime Video in the first place, and as long as that's not the case and you're already a Prime member, then there's no point avoiding Prime Video as it's bundled in for free. If you are a Prime member and not using Prime Video, then you are missing out on a massive cord cutting benefit.
Regardless of whether you like Prime Video or not, this should be the only streaming service you stay subscribed to on a permanent basis – or for as long as you retain a Prime membership.