Entertainment subscriptions make it more convenient than ever for us to keep ourselves occupied, but keeping track of them is key to ensuring you know exactly what your monthly outgoings are. Student Taz gives her advice on keeping your entertainment subscriptions manageable and making the most of your money.
Moving away from home can have the added shock of losing access to 24-hour Sky TV, the Family Netflix account, and mum or dad’s generous payment of your phone contract. However, just because you’re now living independently, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of these luxuries too. It’s knowing where to look and how to go about it.
How you watch TV at uni depends on the set up that you have. You might have your own TV, or share one with your flatmates. Either way, you’ll want to make sure you have a TV license to cover your streaming activity. A TV license is required by anyone who owns either a TV with a viewing box subscription or streams channels from sites such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and Channel 4 Catch Up.
If you share a TV with flatmates, there are many added benefits to your spending routine (ignoring the fact that you WILL unfortunately have to share the remote). Sharing the TV will mean that:
- The initial cost of the TV is shared
- You can share the subscription cost
- You could invest in a shared Netflix account.
Netflix is a great entertainment platform which offers a variety of content; both series and films. Additionally, Amazon movies is a great source for movies. Gain access to this by signing up for an Amazon Prime account which you get 6 months free as a student. This comes with free next-day delivery on Prime items and other discounts throughout the year. And it’s only £3.99 a month after your trial!
Another option, if you have your own TV, is to invest in an HDMI cable which connects your laptop to your TV screen. Doing this will allow you to watch Netflix and other online entertainment sites on the big screen (a great idea for movie nights or watching the football!).
If you’re the sporty type and love a bit of Premier League football at the weekends, you might also consider buying the BT Sport or Sky Sports apps (a definite one to share the cost with friends for!). It’s also a good idea to check with your parents whether you have a BT or Sky box at home. If you do, chances are you have free access to these apps which you’ll just need to get the login for. You might also consider going to pubs (Park Bar being a popular one), to watch the games live for free.
When it comes to music, YouTube is going to be your immediate option in terms of price. YouTube is free to watch videos on, but does have its flaws in terms of playlist options, and having the keep the site open when listening. The next best option in my opinion is Spotify which you can either use for free (with adverts in between every few songs), or buy for £4.99 a month (50% discounted for students) with Student Premium Spotify (without the ads). This is another subscription that I would recommend sharing with another person (preferably NOT more than 1). Sharing the price will mean you can both make separate playlists, however you will need to download the songs to listen to offline to avoid any music clashes when listening. Another option is Apple Music which Apple are currently offering a free 3-month trial period for.
If you’re in charge of paying for your own mobile contract, you’ll also want to take advantage of the many student offers out there. Top ones include the new Voxi contract which is £10 a month for unlimited social media use and a generous number of texts and calls (a life-saver for me!). Other companies such as EE and O2 also offer a 20% discount and other bonuses including free data bundles and the O2 priority scheme (even more discounts!).
Another added subscription expense may come from the Gym. This is likely to be around £15-20 per month depending on your membership type, and may become quite noticeable in terms of your spending. If you’ve got a full month membership, make sure you are making the most of it. You’ll need to make sure you get yourself to the gym at least 5 times a month to make up for the payment.
Where’s the balance?
Whilst all of these options seem like great ideas in the long term, having such a range of subscriptions can only mean one thing: COST. This is where you’ll need to be smart. As said before, try to share the costs of subscriptions with friends (ones you can trust you won’t argue with). You then will want to make a note of each of these outgoings and factor them into your weekly budget. I, for example, spend £24 a month on my subscriptions which includes a £20 gym membership, £4 Netflix subscription (shared with my boyfriend) and a Spotify subscription which a friend has kindly shared with me for free. To make up for these out-goings, I am a religious user of discount sites such as Unidays, TOTUM and Student Beans, and very often use my colleague discounts from my job at Tesco. I recommend making the most of any job-enabled discounts!
Another helping hand with balancing your in-goings and out-goings can come from cashback schemes such as TopCashback and Quidco. These sites are free to join and offer cashback options on thousands of online purchasing sites including Amazon, Trainline and O2. Many banks also offer monthly cashback offers. For example, this month Lloyds bank is offering its customers up to 15% cashback on any purchases made at stores including Café Nero, Jack Wills, and Yo! Sushi. You can view these offers on most mobile banking apps.
There’s a lot to take in here, but taking just a few of these tips on board could make a real difference for you. Hope this helps!