You Can Easily Save Hundreds by Sharing Your Accounts
As evidenced by GOBankingRates' annual financial resolutions survey, saving money is a top priority for people in the new year. Although it's a simple concept, there are so many ways to go about saving money that it can almost be overwhelming. From participating in the 52-week savings challenge to looking up listicles that promise to save you several thousand dollars in a year, following each and every piece of savings advice can be daunting -- and impractical.
One surefire way to save money is to share your subscription accounts. Just contact friends or family members and your providers once to set up a family or shared account plan. From then on, the savings are automated.
1. Netflix (NFLX)
Netflix has embraced the idea of shared accounts. Previously, customers would share their login information with others to split costs, but users faced issues with conflicting streaming requests, mixed recommendations and inaccurate tracking of a progress through a given television show or film.
Netflix did away with this, allowing accounts to have up to five profiles that distinctly record each user's behavior to create accurate recommendations and keep tabs on their progress through programs. The monthly streaming plan costs $8.99, or $108 a year. Splitting the costs five ways means it goes down to $22 per user.
Competing service Hulu Plus is designed only for one personal account, because streaming is limited to one device at a given time, versus two or four depending on your Netflix plan. If you have a roommate, you can coordinate your Hulu use fairly easily and share the $7.99 monthly bill.
2. Spotify Premium
If you're that guy who always has his headphones in and enjoys discovering the newest music before it breaks, you likely have a Spotify account. Unlike other music services, however, which you can mute during commercials, Spotify's free service pauses commercials when the sound is turned off, forcing listeners to sit through these interruptions.
Spotify Premium accounts cost $9.99 per month for commercial-free enjoyment; however, you can cut that cost a good amount by getting a few friends and family members in on your account.
Spotify Family charges an additional $5 for every member of your account, up to five users. So, if you get four friends in on the fun, your monthly bill will drop from $10 to $6 per person, saving you nearly $50 each year. Spotify Family users still benefit from separate playlists and profiles, as well as curated recommendations based on their music preferences and listening habits. Competitor Rdio offers the same discount for up to five subscribers.
3. Amazon (AMZN) Prime
If you have Amazon Prime for your personal or business use, you can share its shipping benefits with up to four family members or coworkers. This doesn't apply to Prime Instant Video, Prime Music or the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
Amazon Prime is normally $99 annually, but if you're sharing the benefits with four others, your costs could be reduced to $19.80 annually, or just $1.65 per month, per person -- a real bargain.
4. Gym Membership
A healthy family is a happy family, so consider adding a family member to your gym membership. Individual fees and family member prices vary per gym and even by location for nationwide chains like 24 Hour Fitness; however, it's safe to say that even an extra $25 to $50 per member, when the total is divided up, will lead to a reduced cost for your membership.
Take this shared account even further by creating a support system in your family to help motivate one another to hit the gym. If you live in the same city as a family member, use this opportunity to spend additional time together when you visit a group workout class or do some cardio.
5. Cell Phone Bill
If you have anything beyond the bare bones of a cell phone plan, you likely pay a good deal each month for your privileges. From texting to data and roaming charges, many factors can affect your cell phone bill -- the one certainty is that it's expensive. According to a recent survey by research firm Cowen and Company, the average post-tax cell phone bill was $141 at AT&T (T), $144 at Sprint (S), $120 at T-Mobile (TMUS) and $148 at Verizon (VZ).
Comparing family-plan pricing, here's how much you'd save at these carriers:
- AT&T. With 10 GB plans costing $100 and additional lines adding just $15 more per device (up to 10 total), two users could share a plan for $130. Assuming a nuclear family of four, that would be $160 -- or $40 a piece. Compare that with the average bill of $141. You'll be spending $101 less a month, for $1,212 in savings per person for the year.
- Sprint. Sprint, which provides a helpful comparison chart between the four major cell carriers, offers four lines and 5 GB per line of data monthly for $100 per month - a special for 2015. Split that between four other people, and you'll end up paying $20 a person, versus $144 as an average payment. That's a savings of $124 per month -- or $1,488 annually.
- T-Mobile. ArsTechnica reported T-Mobile is the cheapest of the main cell phone providers, at $120 a month, on average. It also offers a $100 per month deal for four lines and 2.5 GB of data, amounting to a total savings of $95 monthly per participant or $1,140 annually.
- Verizon. The most expensive average bill goes to Verizon, charging an average of $148 each month. However, for $140 a month for four lines, you're saving $113 each month, or $1,356 per person annually.
6. E-Reader Book Purchases
Whether you're an Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble (BKS) Nook user, if you use an e-reader, you can share your book purchases to cut down on costs. Amazon allows Kindle users to lend and borrow books from other users for up to two weeks. Borrowers don't even need to own their own Kindles, as borrowed books can be read through the free Kindle reading app, according to Amazon.com.
Using a similar concept, through Barnes & Noble's LendMe technology, users can borrow and lend books to use on non-Nook devices, like iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches, Android devices, PCs and Macs, according to Barnesandnoble.com.
To keep things fair, come up with a list of books with a friend that you both want to read and take turns purchasing and borrowing to cut your e-reader costs in half.
7. PlayStation Network
Those who enjoy video games can reduce their costs greatly by opting for a game rental service like GameFly, Redbox or Gamerang, or by sharing games purchased through their Sony (SNE) PlayStation consoles. Available for PS4, you can game-share with friends and family, according to IGN.com, simply by activating your PS4 as the primary console. From there, others should be able to download your files to their PS4 consoles without needing your login credentials. Alternate who pays for which games and share to save on this entertainment cost.