Clark Howard

Clark Says These Streaming Changes Are Top Money-Saving Moves in 2024

Are you looking for a way to trim your budget in 2024?

Money expert Clark Howard says you may need to look no further than your television to put money back in your wallet this year.

Streaming TV subscription prices have been on a steady increase. And they're one of the easiest line items to cut from a budget.

That combination puts them in the crosshairs for many consumers who are looking to “trim the fat” on their spending.

"The number one area that you can have an impact in 2024 for getting your finances more under control is attacking subscriptions."

Clark discussed the direction streaming services are taking in 2024 and how consumers can navigate the changing marketplace during a recent episode of the Clark Howard Podcast.

I review streaming services for Clark.com, and in this article, I’ll walk you through the details to help you save as much money as possible without missing out on your favorite shows.

1. Take Inventory of Your Current Subscriptions

Cutting the cord was once considered a money-savvy move that was guaranteed to save you from the high prices of cable TV.

But in recent years, we've been inundated with new streaming TV option after new streaming TV option. We have video streaming services like Peacock and Max. We have live TV streaming services like Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV. We have cell phone services offering us discounts on Netflix. We have delivery services like Amazon offering us Prime Video and Walmart+ offering us Paramount+.

It can be overwhelming to keep up with what your household is actually paying for each month.

Clark says you can start the process of trimming your streaming budget by taking inventory and applying this simple rule of thumb:

"If you can't remember the last time you watched a streaming service … CANCEL IT!"

Canceling even a small $5 per month subscription will save you $60 over the course of a year.

And if you’re roped into one of the live streaming services that are now charging $75 per month or more, you’d be looking at an annual savings of at least $900 by pulling the plug.

2. Consider Switching To Ad-Supported Subscription Tiers

If you can’t bring yourself to cancel a service, you may still be able to save some money while keeping it.

"I know you're gonna hate me saying this, but watch some ads. That's right. Go to the ad-supported versions of these things, because it will save you so much money.

You know in the days when people used to watch traditional television? Think about what you could do during commercials. You could go get a snack, you go to the bathroom, you do whatever you didn't miss anything."

This may seem like an inconvenience not worth downgrading your subscription, but you may be surprised at just how much money you could save by doing this. Especially if you have several streaming subscriptions.

For example, the ad-supported subscription tier for Netflix is $6.99 per month. The top ad-free option is $22.99 per month.

Making the move to ads in that instance could save you $192 on Netflix alone.

Subscription services like Disney+, Max, Hulu, Peacock and Paramount+ all have cheaper ad-supported tiers as well.

It does take a little more time to binge your favorite shows, and you may lose some features by going to ad-supported tiers. But my household has saved quite a bit of money by following Clark’s advice on this one. And we jokingly refer to the commercials as “phone breaks” so that we can check for the messages we’ve missed while watching an episode.

3. Avoid Free Trials and Signing Up Through Third Parties

One of the big advantages you have as a streaming TV consumer versus a traditional cable or satellite service is the lack of a long-term financial commitment.

Unless you’ve opted into an annual plan for one of these streaming services, you should be able to cancel at any time without any financial obligation beyond the current billing cycle.

But streaming services know this, and they sometimes add layers that complicate the cancellation process.

That’s why Clark wants you to steer clear of a couple of popular strategies for hooking you in for a long-term relationship with these services.

Avoid Free Trials … Most of the Time

You’d think Clark would be a fan of anything free, but he usually tells consumers to skip it in this instance.

His reasoning? You’re more likely to forget to cancel a free trial on time than you think.

Even with good intentions, you may let things slip on a free trial and end up paying full price once it expires. And once you’ve done that once, you may let it happen a second or third time.

"That's why this is a real danger to your wallet. It's so easy to sign up for things, so easy to forget they're there, and you just pay it as if you're supposed to."

If you’re going to move forward with a free trial, Team Clark recommends setting a calendar reminder in your phone to remind you to cancel a day or two before your trial period ends. That way you avoid any additional charges.

Avoid Third Party Signups

Many streaming services will allow you to sign up through a third party like Roku or Amazon. That may be convenient in the moment, but it also adds another layer between you and canceling the service.

Those layers can lead people to passively let unneeded subscriptions auto-renew.

“Be very wary about how you sign up. You can go on Roku and you can sign up for various streams. And then you go to disconnect it and you can’t find your membership because you actually did it through third party.”

It’s also possible that you could be missing out on discounted pricing being offered directly through the streaming service if you sign up through a third-party provider.

4. Consider Trying Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV (FAST) in 2024

Clark has been banging this drum for a few years now. And his love for free, ad-supported streaming TV hasn't changed just because the calendar switched to 2024.

Clark says as soon as football season ends, he intends to spend the months ahead watching FAST services at no charge.

Streaming services like Pluto TV (CBS), Tubi TV (Fox) and Freevee (Amazon) have the backing of companies that are also behind some of the paid subscription services you like. But without the monthly fees.

The catch? In addition to the ads, you’re not going to see any of the latest and greatest TV productions. In fact, much of what you’ll watch are shows that were popular in previous decades.

But when there’s no financial obligation, that may actually be a great entertainment choice as you get your budget in order for 2024.

And if you find you don’t miss the streaming subscriptions you cancel, you may find that this a long-term solution for your entertainment needs.

Do you have some money-saving tips for streaming TV in 2024? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the Clark.com community.

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