Stream Time is where Tom's Guide senior editor Henry T. Casey dives into the big choices we make about streaming media. We tackle it all, from the best and worst streaming services and devices, to the never-ending list of shows to watch.
There are some great streaming service apps out there, but the most important one isn't one you might expect — as it can help you save money. As streaming services increase their subscription prices — to the point where you're paying as much as you did for cable — budget-management has become one of the key topics of conversation behind the scenes at Tom's Guide.
Fortunately, most of the best streaming services let you subscribe on a monthly basis, so if there's just one show you like on a given service, you can simply stop paying after its run ends. However, knowing when to cancel your subscription — and avoid paying for an extra month or two — can be tricky to remember when there are so many other things you have to keep in your head.
So allow me to explain how you can get a better grip on your streaming service spending with a simple app that has nothing to do with TV, but could save you money.
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Reminders apps save my streaming budget
Every month, we have the opportunity to cut down our streaming service bills. That's because all of the best streaming services (and many of the ones we don't rank highly) make it easy to take a step back with month-to-month billing. Of course, those who signed long-term deals for a discounted rate to something like Disney Plus have to live with those choices.
A reminder app will help you remember when your next billing date is coming up, so you can cancel your subscription before you get charged for an extra month.
For example, if you're ready to figure out how to cancel your Netflix subscription, sign into Netflix and go to this page, you'll see the text that reads "Your next billing date is," to show you when you're next going to be charged.
So, with this info, open your Reminders app of choice (I'll explain mine below), and manually write in the date. You could even ask Siri or Google Assistant to set a reminder for you.
I have about eight reminders per month, which can seem excessive. But I set the reminders for two days before the service is going to rebill, and write something akin to "you're paying $13.99 per month for Netflix" as the reminder.
This way, when you get a reminder, you can ask yourself "did I watch enough on Netflix to justify that much money?"
And if the answer is "I'm not sure," then maybe it's time to reconsider your subscription.
Reminders can be the difference between free and paid
So, everyone should watch Ted Lasso. I've said it countless times. Apple itself is doing its best to lure people in with a seven-day free trial for Apple TV Plus — and up to a year if you've purchased an Apple device. That's more than enough time to binge the whole first season of Ted Lasso (heck, you could finish it in a day if you have the time).
And with a reminder or two, you can save yourself from accidentally paying for Apple TV Plus if, somehow, you don't like Ted Lasso or any of its other shows. That said, Apple is fully aware that people may cancel, and that may be why it's chosen to drop editions of Coach Lasso's adventures on a weekly basis.
Yes, you can start watching Ted Lasso season 2 on July 23, but the series doesn't end until October 8. So, in this case, reminders of when your next billing date after October 8 will help you make sure you don't have another streaming service quietly taking $4.99 from you. Yes, you get billing emails, but that's only after the charges go through, and you only see them if you do a good job of managing your inbox.
Due is the best Reminders app for iPhones, with a catch
I use reminders so much that I started to realize I was the kind of "power user" who needed something a bit more capable than what the iOS Reminders app supplies. And then I heard about Due, a reminders app that doesn't stop at just reminding you once.
Due reminds you over and over again, until you swipe your reminder to mark it as done. This is part of why I love Due for just this task. Due reminders can repeat indefinitely, if you so choose, and will ping you every five minutes by default. I don't just use Due for streaming service reminders, but also as a way to make sure I get hot items online, such as concert tickets that will sell out quickly.
The only issue? It's $6.99. So you're going to be paying more for that. For me, it's worth it. Especially when it will save me from spending more money I don't need to elsewhere. There are plenty of other options, though, so check out our best productivity apps round-up.
Set reminders to stream with confidence
So, if you've never done an audit of your streaming services, it's time. Figure out all your services, when they bill you and then get your house in order.
That way you can focus on what you're watching, without worrying how much it's costing you. We can't stop the proliferation of new streaming services. We can't avoid the reality of the great shows they offer either. But with reminders, we can try and stop ourselves from being billed when we don't need to be billed.
Be sure to check out my guides to the best streaming devices (and best streaming services) for more recommendations. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below with anything you’d like to see me cover in the streaming world — I might just address it in a future installment.
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