Frugal Living 
8
comments

Subscription Optimization and Per Use Cost

We have a lot of subscriptions in our household. We pay to subscribe to several magazines (Real Simple, Wired, Portfolio). We are members of our local gym and we have Netflix. We both have cell phones (hers is through her company) and we both have E-ZPasses in our cars. All together we probably have at least a dozen “monthly” services that we pay money for, all of which made sense at the time we subscribed. As our needs and our routines change, some of those services may not longer make much sense.

The idea of subscription optimization and per use cost is very simple. For a month, track how often you use a subscription and calculate the per use cost. If you pay $60 a month for a gym membership and go thirty times a month, that’s a per use cost of $2. Then compare it with the a la carte cost, or how much it would cost if you weren’t a member but still used the service. If it’s cheaper to go a la carte, cancel the subscription.

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 Frugal Living 
16
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We Signed Up For Netflix

Netflix Thumbs UpLast week, we signed up for Netflix.

Yep, even with such posts as “Why do people sign up for Netflix?” peppering the archives, we at the BFP household signed up for the $8.99 a month plan that lets us borrow one movie at a time, unlimited movies a month, plus unlimited streaming video on demand.

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 Frugal Living 
14
comments

Are You Maximizing Netflix?

We don’t use Netflix because we don’t watch a lot of movies but a lot of our friends do. One of the things I notice quite a bit, and something that my friends freely admit, is that my friends don’t watch a lot of movies either and they will have the same movies for weeks at a time.

I recognize that Netflix isn’t about watching as many movies as you can. Part of Netflix’s appeal is in their extensive library of movies, movies you would never be able to find in a Blockbuster store like indies and foreign films. However, if you’re one of the Netflix subscribers who is really into the cost benefit analysis game, there’s a website called FeedFlix that will do all that for you without any additional help. You don’t have to sign up or anything, you just have to paste in one of your RSS feeds into their box and a wealth of personalized usage information appears.

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 Shopping 
105
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Why Do People Sign Up For Netflix?

Netflix Thumbs UpI don’t understand why people have Netflix subscriptions.

I never rent movies and when I do, I usually turn to the $1 a night RedBox vending machine at my local Giant. For $1.05 (MD sales tax is 5%), I get a recent release that I happened to miss in the theaters (I enjoy going to the movie theater, paying $9, and watching a movie with my girl) and most of the time I can find a coupon online that gives me the rental for free. That being said, I don’t really understand why people sign up for a recurring rental service when something like a RedBox exists (unless it doesn’t in your area). And no, Redbox isn’t paying me. In fact, if you sign up for Netflix through that link above, Netflix is paying me a commission so enjoy my brutal honesty.

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 Shopping 
0
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Netflix For Stuff

The article I just read was a little dated (Oct 2006) but it highlighted a very interesting service that I think is pretty cool, it’s essentially a rental service for accessories – jewelry, purses, etc. It’s a slightly different take on fractional ownership, most common in planes and yachts where you buy the right to fly a plane or sail a yacht for a specified number of days a year, and is more like Netflix, except for high end accessories.

Bag, Borrow or Steal was started by a couple guys who saw how much time, money, and energy their wives were spending on finding purses and handbags that matched their wardrobe. You pay $10 a month and then a per-item weekly fee but you get to borrow all sorts of stuff. A quick look on their site saw four levels of membership, based on the quality of the goods (Couture, Diva, Princess, Trendsetter) with membership fees ranging from $20/mo to $175/mo.

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 Frugal Living 
31
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Top 5 Ways To Save Money Without Noticing

What’s better than saving some money? Saving money without really noticing that you’re saving money. How do you do this? Take a look at some of the less important things in your life and see if you can cut back. Or, take a look at some of the things you take for granted and cut back. Or, just trim something you don’t even use much anymore but still pay for… all these things can be removed to save you a little bit of money without you noticing one bit.

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 Free, Shopping 
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Skip Blockbuster, Netflix, Rent New Movies With Red Box

Now, what trumps any of those three options is your local public library but usually the selection is limited to older movies (not the new releases) because that’s usually free (tax dollar supported, but incrementally free) and free is better than paying. But, barring an awesome library system where you get the newest releases…

Many of my friends have a Netflix account and there have been weeks we’re I’ve gone over their houses and the stacks of Netflix movies haven’t even been moved, let alone been watched. That’s the main knock against services like Blockbuster Online and Netflix, if you’re busy and don’t watch movies, then why pay $20 a month to basically hold onto the few movies that you do watch?

That’s me. I know that if I ever signed up for one of those services, and I’ve used their trials, I’d be just like my friends with stacks of movies that might get watched within a week or two of receiving them. Maybe. Do I really want to pay Netflix $4.99 to be able to hold onto one movie a month and borrow a maximum of 2 a month (that’s their latest promotion)? Of course not… not when I can hit up a Red Box vending machine, likely with a Red Box free day movie rental coupon code, and get the movie the day that I want to watch it. If I don’t have a code, it’s a whole dollar!

The only negative is that selection will vary (thought you can check online at Redbox.com) so sometimes if you want a particular movie, you might not be able to get it but that’s hardly a huge price to pay to watch a movie for a buck.


 Frugal Living 
9
comments

Money Saving Technique: Try Living Without Something

In reading Ed’s post about cutting budgets, I came to realize a budget cutting technique I’ve used but never actually wrote about. The basic idea is that a lot of your needs are actually wants, so how do you objectively separate the two? You can’t and it’s futile to try! So instead of trying to ordain which is which, go through your needs one by one, scale them back or cut them entirely and see how it affects your life.

Take one of Ed’s brief examples: “Is it necessary to have the fastest internet possible? Would a slower speed connection be ok?” Cancel your internet or reduce it to dialup, how is your life truly affected? Personally, I had no internet access for a month when I first moved in and I visited the library quite a bit (it’s within three minutes walking distance, no car involved) but I truly missed having an internet connection at home.

So cancel that Netflix subscription, replace it with some time scouring the internet for Red Box promotional codes and see if it truly impacts your life in any appreciable way.


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