Paying $9.99 a month for Apple TV is not a huge impost.
But, if you are anything like me, Apple TV is not the only digital viewing platform on your subscription list.
I signed up to Apple TV to watch the brilliant comedy Ted Lasso, starring Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein.
If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely worth paying Apple $9.99 to watch the three seasons – which is 34 episodes all up.
In short, the show is about an American football coach who moves to England to mentor the Greyhounds soccer team which ends up at the top of the Premier League. The first and second seasons won the Outstanding Comedy Series award at the Emmys, becoming only the eighth series in the genre in 74 years of Emmy history to do so. That’s how good it is.
While you have Apple TV you should also watch Bad Sisters, Shrinking and the Academy award-winning movie, Coda. All three are hilarious. And watching them in a month for $9.99 is superb value.
But after you’ve watched them – and anything else that captures your imagination – you should cancel the subscription. I didn’t.
I signed up for Stan Premium to watch Yellowstone. Another $21 a month.
Remember the hype around Yellowstone when it first came out? Everyone was talking about the imperfect Dutton family and the trials and tribulations of ranch life. If you weren’t watching it, you felt like you were missing out on something great.
One of my favourite actors Kevin Costner plays the family patriarch, but in my humble opinion, the real star of the show is his big drinking, chain-smoking daughter Beth – played by Kelly Reilly.
I lost interest in Yellowstone after three seasons. I stopped watching but forgot to cancel Stan.
I got Prime Video to watch Jack Ryan, an edge-of-the-seat spy series starring John Krasinski. Another $8.99 a month.
I’ve had Netflix since the beginning but lately I’ve noticed that I spend more time searching for shows to watch than I do actually watching shows. Netflix on all our screens costs us $22.99 each month.
My mother-in-law, who lives with us, is obsessed with Sky News so we have Flash which costs $8 each month.
My wife is into all things spiritual, so we subscribe to a TV app called Gaia, which costs $11.99 per month.
I love sport so naturally we have Kayo, another $25 per month.
Britbox delivers all our favourites from the UK – things like Vera, All Creatures Great and Small, Cold Feet – for a mere $8.99 a month.
Last but not least is Binge. I got that for free from Telstra for six months. The six months came and went and then Binge started charging us $18 per month. That’s been happening for almost two years now.
The thing is, individually none of these charges look excessive on my monthly credit card statement.
But tally them up and I’ve been paying $134.95 per month for streaming services that if I’m honest I don’t watch all that much. That’s $1619.40 a year.
So last week, after a household consultation, I cancelled the lot.
Our plan is to watch everything that the free-to-air apps have to offer and see what, if any, of the pay-to-watch apps we want to re-install.
While I was channeling my inner Marie Kondo I also went through the apps on my phone and found four that I was paying for, but hadn’t used, in the past 12 months. By the time I’d cancelled my golf scoring app, my guitar tuning app, my meditation app and Audible, I’d saved another $39.87 per month – or $478.44 annually.
Then my wife Ali asked if we really needed our wine subscriptions. I was a little stunned, but when I investigated it was a question worth considering.
We have a Virgin Wines subscription ($75 per month) which provides us with six cartons a year and a subscription with Naked Wines.
Naked Wines sells products from small wineries, so you are buying boutique wine that normally you wouldn’t find on the shelves at Dan Murphy’s.
I’d signed up for Naked Wines on a $50 per month subscription plan. Naked Wines charges my credit card $50 per month, then when I go on to the website it says I have credit to buy wines. My mind is tricked into thinking that because I have credit, I have extra money to spend. And I do spend extra money all the time.
We are not big drinkers. We probably consume two bottles a week, more when we host a dinner party. I keep the wine in the Harry Potter closet under the stairs. When I counted the boxes, we had enough wine to last us until mid-2025.
By cancelling both, I saved us another $125 per month which adds up to $1500 a year. When the cupboard gets emptied, we will re-subscribe.
Add them all together and that’s a $3,597.84 annual saving, or $299.82 per month, or almost $70 a week.
Now for me, this all started with a decision to cancel Apple TV, a streaming service that I wasn’t using.
It certainly does show the value of at least once a year doing a digital detox, or re-boot, and questioning how you spend your money. Now that I’m on a fixed income every cent matters. And it is far better to stay in my pocket.
I know that sometime during the next 12 months I will sign up for a new wine deal, or I’ll download an app that purports to fix my golf swing, or perhaps revisit my Kayo membership – that’s okay because I put a note in next year’s calendar to do another digital re-boot in August 2024.
For the record (pun intended) I kept Spotify which I use every day. And for me, that’s the key. If you use something regularly it is worth paying for. Only ditch the stuff you are paying for, but not really using.