Guess how much your subscriptions cost?

Ramit Sethi

Your subscriptions cost way more than you think–especially media subscriptions. Take a look:

Businesses used to just sell single products, until they realized they could make much more money by selling a subscription. It doesn’t seem like that much when you’re only paying $12/month for TiVo (“only $0.40 per day!”). Here’s a breakdown of what you might be spending just on media subscriptions:

  • $30/month for Internet
  • $50/month for cell phone
  • $40/month for cable TV
  • $12/month for TiVo
  • $10/month for Napster/Rhapsody music subscription
  • $10/month for some other content-subscription like HighBeam Research


$1,824 per year

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Add in other subscriptions like your gym and you’ll be stunned. One of my students I taught last week is making $50,000/year and, after calculating this, she realized she is paying 30% of her after-tax income to subscriptions.

(This post is cross-listed on another site I run,

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  1. jason

    I wonder if this is one reasons why alot of young adults are still living at home with their parents… I know of a number of 20 somethings that have to have all of the latest gadgets and a brand new 20-30K car, cell phone with a billion minutes, ipod w/ content subscription, would be lost without all the premium cable channels, have to have internet (this can save you buku bucks though), netflix, etc. etc.

  2. chris

    I am not sure what to make of this. Has things really change that much? cable has always been a monthly subscription, as has communication (land line or cell or internet). As a matter of fact, the land line use to be per minute or hourly (as was internet). As we used them more, it became cheaper to pay 30/month for internet vs $1 hour (or .20 a kilobyte). I am not sure things have gotten more expensive. I think there are more services out there than there use to be, (and they are becoming compelling) so thats more payout if you subscribe to all these new services such as DVR, HDTV, GameTap, XM radio,Netflix, channel guides, etc.

    I for one am very glad my internet is per month and not per hour or megabyte. Same goes for my cellphone.

  3. doug

    chris: About the cell phone: yes and no. It’s good that you get a plan that can get you a lower average price than an a la carte system would. However, you’re probably better off with an a la carte cell phone and paying for a VOIP phone or using Skype whenever you can; those are substantially cheaper.

    As for the internet, it’s hard for people commenting on a blog to disagree over that…

  4. Joe

    We have a pay as you go plan. $15 for ~250 minutes. Minutes cost less on the weekend so on the weekend there are more minutes to be had under the same $15. We use a hand-me-down phone that came from one of our parents. Both my parents and my in-laws like to get the newest phone when their contract comes up. They usually explain that the old phones have batteries that won’t hold a charge or something. Our current phone was discarded because the battery wouldn’t hold a charge my mother said. We’ve been using it for 3 years now on the original battery and it does just fine – standby for days and talk for hours (I use it for under 5 minutes generally). We recently were given matching phones that were once again castoffs. We won’t even turn them on.

    We have one phone too, not multiple. When my wife is out she takes it. When I go to the kids’ baseball practice or Scouts I take it. No point in having two phones for us.

    As for TV: we quit cable and went satellite for a $20 savings per month. We have the basic package with DVR and a $10 a month Netflicks account. The DVR allows us to get more from the channels we have. Netflicks takes the place of the movie store where three rentals exceed the cost of a month of Netflicks.

    Package deals: our phone, DSL internet (unlimited) and 300+ minutes of landline long distance, DVR and satellite was cheaper than those services individually. ~$100 per month. We use the internet to pieces, the DVR is always working for us, and each weekend we talk to family b/c everybody is at least 100 miles away for at least a couple hours.

    We are committed to maximum value for our dollars.

  5. Thomas

    I would like to see how that $1824 breaks down, but your crosspost link to is broken, looks like your IHateThings blog there is not showing up any more.

    Meanwhile I am trying to bring down my subscription costs – I have killed cable subscription well over a year ago; next is internet from Comcast – DSL is cheaper. Mobile is already on the lowest tier family plan. I am tempted by a sirius satellite subscription in my new car though (which is free now, but free offer expires next month).