At the beginning of the month when our calendars switched over from 2020 to 2021, I started making big plans for myself in terms of budgeting and cutting back on purchases. I even created an Excel spreadsheet to help myself keep track of all of my annual memberships, streaming accounts, new physical and digital media purchases and preorders.
After nearly one full month of utilizing that spreadsheet and religiously updating it any time a penny is spent on something new, I’m happy to report that it’s helped me keep track of my 2021 spending terrifically. It’s also made me realize just how much cash I was spending on streaming services throughout a 1-year period and that, my friends, was truly jarring. As soon as I saw what my streaming grand total was going to be for 2021 if I kept everything as is, I immediately started making a list of the services I could cut. That feeds in very nicely to my first point …
Here are the steps I’m taking to be more mindful of my budget and spend less this year:
Reduce the number of streaming services I’m currently subscribed to
Listen, if it was solely up to me, I’d cancel almost every streaming service I’m currently subscribed to because I just don’t watch a lot of new movies or TV but I’m not the only person in my household that uses the services and I have to be mindful of that. Upon further thought and after speaking to my parents about which service(s) they preferred above all the others, I cut 3 from my list (Criterion Channel, Prime and Disney+). What we’re left with are Netflix, BritBox, YouTube Premium, and PBS Passport.
Eliminate as many monthly charges as possible
This includes things like paid online memberships and magazine subscriptions. Reluctantly, I made the decision to close my Patreon account earlier this month and I also chose to cancel one (very expensive) UK magazine subscription that I had had (and enjoyed) for a couple of years. Lastly, as much as I love film, I opted not to upgrade my free Letterboxd membership to Letterboxd Pro.
Reduce the amount of digital & physical media I purchase
This is a big one and, most likely, it’ll be the toughest one to follow through on throughout the year. I have a really bad habit of buying shitloads of movies and TV box sets – items that I usually never watch right away, I just pile them on my shelves and wait for “the right time” to play them. I’m moving almost entirely away from purchasing physical media in 2021 because my collection got out of control last year during the height of the pandemic. I was buying and buying more and more stuff to combat the stress I was under and the low moods that frequently took over my day-to-day life. This was retail therapy at it’s strongest and I only realized how much damage I’d done earlier this month when I started putting together my new budget.
Digital media is a little different in that it takes up zero physical space, so if I want to buy anything this year (a movie or TV show I feel I can’t live without) I’ll purchase it digitally through iTunes. This doesn’t mean I won’t be keeping track of my digital purchases (because I will) but I’m just saying that if I have to buy something, it probably won’t be in physical format. Digital media is typically less expensive, so I’m looking forward to saving not only some space but some money as well.
Are you planning to create a budget for yourself this year? Will you be tracking your purchases? I’d love to hear about your budgeting plans – leave me a comment!