Americans’ New TV Habit: Subscribe. Watch. Cancel. Repeat

Minimize the “Skim” of subscription fees. Better to have the money in your pocket than lost to excessive Executive Compensation.

{{ Sure enough, they lost interest and canceled. And then he realized: Why stop there?

In the weeks that followed, Mr. Meisel, who is 39, cut loose Max, Apple TV+ and Hulu. He eventually resubscribed to Hulu and Apple TV+ when there were shows the couple wanted to watch — Hulu for “The Bear,” Apple TV+ for “Slow Horses” — but canceled both again after they finished watching a new season. }}

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I’ve noticed that people really hate subscription fees on cars. When you spend $40,000 or $50,000 on a vehicle they expected it to work without a $10/month fee to turn on the radio.



Or, cut them all off and use an antenna.

Living in metro Detroit, I pick up something like 50 or 60 channels, with an indoor UHF antenna I picked up at Radio Shack for 4 bux, fifty years ago…of those 50 or 60 channels, MeTV, Defy, Story, and PBS are the only things worth watching.



Sure, I get about 40 channels with a rabbit ears antenna where I live, but there’s still some stuff I might want to watch behind the paywall of a steaming service.

Fortunately, a lot of it is available with a free 30-day trial – just remember to cancel before your credit card gets charged.


Add in the cost of an internet connection fast enough to provide smooth streaming, and the cost of a new TV that supports streaming.

I gave $25 for the 42 in LG in my living room and $12 or the 32" Toshiba in the back room, second hand. Both work perfectly for the little bit of OTA programming I watch, plus watching DVDs.

A lot of programming that may be on streaming now, will be on OTA, or DVD, or both, in a few years. I watched “Burn Notice” when it was rerun OTA. Watched “Game of Thrones” on DVD, borrowed from the public library, free.

Remember “Burn Notice”? It was sort of clever, tho it started to run out of gas the last season or two. Picked up the DVD box sets for cheap off eBay, so now I can watch it whenever I feel like it.

Nowadays, the lowest tier broadband connection is sufficient for smooth streaming. Heck, in most cases, it’s sufficient for 4 people to stream smoothly at once. And kids today don’t use the TV anymore, they use their own handheld devices. I can’t recall the last time our TV was turned on. I think we watched a movie together a couple of months ago. And if you want to play it on the TV, you just beam it over from your phone, the kids know how to do that via some sort of dongle on the TV.

We liked Burn Notice!

Samsung has it’s own, free, streaming service. I tried it out last summer. On my “broadband” service from AT&T U-Verse, some channels worked OK, but several stopped to collect their wits, repeatedly. Made viewing extremely tedious. And there wasn’t anything else using bandwith as I had the computer turned off. Only the one TV was running.

Meanwhile, I have a book to read. Actual, printing on paper. Not viewed “on line” via Hoopla.


Also works for other non-TV skims. I do this with Amazon prime, the few times a year when I need something delivered quickly.

I recently subscribed to Adobe 1-week trial service (I forget its actual name) to permit me to edit PDF files that needed to be redacted.

Yep. I just wait until I have at least $35 worth of stuff to order from Amazon, then I still get free shipping. No need to pay for Amazon Prime.



The thing I use Amazon Prime mostly for recently is when they have a terrific sale RIGHT NOW. Can’t wait for $35 in those cases. Recent examples include a 22-pack of Lavazza K-cups (Lavazza are some of the best I’ve had) for $3.59, a 84 load laundry detergent for under $5 and 3 containers (30 oz) of mayo for $1.94 (really great deal!)

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I’ve always subscribed to these paid streaming services in this manner, and I cannot understand why people insisted on subscribing to all of them all the time and then complaining that it was as expensive as cable. It’s so easy to subscribe, and it’s so easy to cancel.

I subscribe to only one streaming service at a time and for just one month at a time. I also only get these streaming services during Couch Potato Season (the colder months of the year). I get so much value for my money. I can’t believe that the on-again off-again subscriptions weren’t a thing from the get go.

I keep seeing ads for “apps” and services that tell you all the things you are subscribing to, so you can cancel the ones you aren’t using. Don’t people look at their bank and credit card statements? All their expenses are right there to be seen.


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Personal finance isn’t difficult, but it does require people to pay attention. I teach a class on it every once in a while, and I start with a stoplight exercise. I ask people to track where their money is going — every penny of it — for two months. Then, once they’ve done that, they’re supposed to take red, yellow, and green highlighters to mark each spending item as “keep” (green), “eliminate” (red), or “optimize” (yellow).

I’ve lost track of the number of people who’ve come back to me and said that exercise was eye-opening and life changing for them. Lots of absent-minded purchases, subscriptions left on autopilot and forgotten about, and things like purchased meals that may not seem so bad individually but that add up quickly when looked at over time….

Home Fool


From his graduation from High School in 1938 until one week before his death in 1997 my father recorded every expenditure he made every week down to the nickle in a series of 60 small notebooks. It disciplined his choices in life, opened the doors to the wealth he steadily accumluated, and (after brother and I offered them to the scholars there) was a bedrock record for studies done at UCLA of 20th C lifestyles and costs.

I am not so meticulous, but my imitation of his habitual awareness of valuing the long over the short term has been essential to my happiness.

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This is really good life advice.

I don’t keep detailed records on spending (except for those categories that are tax-deductible), but I do have “100% sales resistance” and always ask before making a purchase, "Am I likely to feel stupid, 2 weeks after buying this?

That’s kept my spending at a small fraction of available income over the years.