Most of us are always looking to find ways to lower our regular bills. Who doesn't want to spend less? One way to help control spending on things we buy routinely is to use subscription services.
These five services can help reduce your costs on the things you want or by helping you avoid buying the things you don't.
1. Streaming TV. For many of us, the cable bill is one big bill we are reluctant to let go of. But with services like Hulu Plus and Netflix, viewers can still enjoy their favorite television series without the huge monthly bill. With a Hulu Plus subscription, avid television viewers have access to a variety of current and classic television shows for only $7.99 a month. Hulu Plus does include some advertisements, which helps keep subscription fees down. Netflix is also $7.99 a month for a wide selection of TV shows and movies. Unlike Hulu Plus, Netflix does not offer current TV season programs, but it does provide streaming of former seasons commercial free.
2. Amazon Subscribe & Save. Amazon is the leader in Internet retail, so it's no surprise it offers a subscription service that can carry big savings to consumers. Any product you need for your home, office or life can be purchased through Amazon. With the Subscribe & Save program, a customer can set up monthly deliveries of the most basic items, including diapers, toilet paper and laundry detergent. Subscriptions come with free shipping and Amazon's regular low prices, and customers who receive five or more products in their monthly delivery receive an extra 15 percent off their orders. This service allows consumers to keep their homes stocked with necessities at a discount and without having to run to the store every week.
3. Scribd. For the bibliophiles who spend far too much time (and money) in bookstores, Scribd is a subscription service that can greatly reduce the cost of reading. For $8.99 a month, subscribers can read as many books as they like on iOS devices, Android tablets and phones or web browsers. All your identified devices are synced, so you can pick up where you left off on whichever device is closest. Why limit yourself to buying one or two new books a month when you can read the entire Scribd catalog for less than the price of most paperbacks?
4. Citrus Lane. For busy parents, especially new ones, sorting through the vast selection at baby and toddler stores to find the products you and your child truly need can be a daunting, time-consuming and expensive task. You might buy three kinds of sippy cups before finding the best one or purchase a new kind of baby food pouch only to find the pouch rips too easily. Citrus Lane aims to take that uncertainty and guesswork out of the equation for parents. For $21 a month for a six-month subscription (or $25 for a three months), parents will receive one box a month filled with products tailored to their child's age and needs. All the products have been recommended by Citrus Lane's advisory board of mothers and fathers, so parents can be sure the items included in each month's gift box won't go to waste.
5. Birchbox. For the beauty-product lovers, buying full-size items can get expensive, especially when you realize after one week that the new face-cleansing line you splurged on doesn't provide the results you had hoped for. Birchbox takes the sticker shock out of trying new beauty products. For $10 a month, subscribers receive a monthly box full of makeup samples, grooming items and lifestyle products. While it started offering products only for women, Birchbox now caters to male customers as well. A consumer only pays full price for a new product after she or he is satisfied with the sample.
Not all subscription services will be money-savers for all consumers, but these five services can produce big savings for their target audiences.
Anisha Sekar writes for NerdWallet's Money-Saving Tips blog, which is dedicated to helping consumers spend, save and earn smarter.