There are lots of ways to improve your financial well-being by making small changes. Today, we're looking at sharing different subscriptions and membership accounts with family and friends.
There's no need for your kid in college to get their own Amazon Prime, Netflix, or HBO accounts or get their own cell phone plans when it would be cheaper for you and them to share.
Here's how different memberships, subscriptions, and services can help you and your family save.
If you can't justify the cost of a wholesale club, splitting the membership can be a great solution. It will give you access to all the discounts with half the cost. And if you go with the higher level membership you can earn some cash back. Having someone else's family on the membership with you may earn you enough cash back to pay for the whole membership, even if you personally can't get there on your own.
Sam's Club: Sam's has two membership levels. The regular membership is $45 per year and the Plus membership is $100 per year. For the higher level membership you get a cash back program of $10 back for every $500 spent at Sam's club, which works out to 2% cash back. The cash back reward is capped at $500 per year.
You can share your membership with a family member, a friend or a coworker. You can only put one address on the account and the primary member will be responsible for renewing the membership. All correspondence, including renewal notice and coupon books, will come to the address listed on the account. Just share the coupons (and cash back) and you both can save big.
Costco: Similar to Sam's Club, Costco also has two membership levels. The Gold Star membership costs $60 per year and the Executive membership is $120. Again, just like Sam's club the higher level offers 2% cash back on shopping at Costco (up to $1,000 cash back).
So go ahead and split your membership with a friend or a coworker. You can sometimes find a Groupon deal and use a cash back site like Ebates to bring the cost of membership down to about $15-20 a person.
It's a great deal if you maximize all the benefits of a Costco membership. Beyond the obvious great buys like amazing rotisserie chicken; Costco has great deals on contact lenses, eyeglasses, tires, travel packages, car rentals, and insurance.
BJ's: The smallest of the three wholesale clubs, BJ's can offer great value. They also offer two levels of membership at $55 and $110. Unsurprisingly, the higher level membership offers 2% cash back. But this program is not as straightforward as you would think so be sure to know the rules if you plan to take full advantage of this.
You can usually get 15 months' membership for the price of 12 months and add another person to your membership. BJ's sells many of the same staples as the other two clubs but in smaller quantities and accepts manufacturer's coupons.
They even have a deli, like a regular supermarket but with better prices. You can stack manufacturer's coupons with BJ's own coupons for some really amazing deals.
All three wholesale clubs sell discounted gift cards for lots of different retailers, restaurants, and movie theaters. You can buy them online and in store, and the selection varies by store.
If you're in the market for new tires for your car, shop all three clubs. You might find a great deal, even with the membership fee. Check out discounts on travel and insurance. I've been a loyal customer of Ameriprise Costco insurance for more than 10 years, they offer competitive rates and have great customer service.
You can share streaming services, such as Netflix, HBO Now, YouTube TV, Sling TV, Direct TV, PlayStation Vue, and others. Check the terms and conditions of each service to see who you can share your passwords with and how many people can have access to your account.
For example, with Netflix's Standard Plan you can stream on two devices; with the Premium Plan, on four. HBO Now and Showtime streaming services allow you to stream to three devices at the same time.
File Storage Subscriptions and Computer Software
Bitdefender, one of the best anti-virus solutions, offers a family package for $49.99. You can install Bitdefender on up to five devices in your household. It works on various platforms, so Mac and PC users can share this anti-virus product.
RealPlayer is a video storage and sharing platform that offers an unlimited account which allows you to add up to three people for free.
Office 365 home subscription can be shared with up to five people, and they don't even have to be family members. This is a great deal because each person gets OneDrive storage, Skype international call credits and other benefits.
Cell Phone Family Plans
Sharing a cell phone family plan doesn't only apply to your spouse and kids. Add your in-laws or adult children to your family plan and split the cost among all participants.
All major providers have family plans that include different amounts of data, so doing some extensive comparison shopping is paramount.
Related: How To Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
Check with your insurance company about adding family members or adult children to your insurance. Usually insurance companies will offer significant discounts to add additional cars to your policy. The more you add, the more you will save as a family.
Prime members can share many of their benefits with another adult in their household including free two-day shipping, Prime photo online storage, video streaming, Kindle owner's lending library, and other discounts. With Amazon raising the price of Prime each year, this is a great way to save some money.
If you know anyone who is in the trades, for example an electrician or a plumber, ask them if they can share their trade discounts with you. I've purchased several light fixtures from a local store where my electrician gets a significant discount. Even including sales tax, the price was better than what I could find online. And I was able to pay the store directly with a credit card and earn some travel rewards!
Sharing memberships, subscription plans, and discounts with family and friends is a good way to cut your spending. You probably won't save hundreds of dollars a month, but as with everything else related to the aggregation of marginal gains, little changes lead to bigger changes and better life.
Let us know in the comments what other services you share with other people in your life. Share some of your best deals by splitting subscriptions and memberships with others.