By Caroline Poston

When Grace Mutimer sits down on a Friday night with a bag of popcorn to watch a movie, Netflix is her first choice. What started out as paying a costly cable bill has now shifted into a new era of entertainment through streaming services. Many who have chosen “cord cutting” now use such services to access a wide variety of movies and shows.

According to Forbes, many of these services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Disney Plus offer great entertainment bundles, but can easily get expensive when paying for several of them. Live TV features, sports channels and access to new movie releases makes it difficult to pick just one, and typically leads to paying for multiple services.

“I am subscribed to at least five different streaming services and the costs have really added up. I started with monthly free trials, but I was hooked on most of them because it was so easy to watch what I wanted. To keep up, I have to dedicate a substantial amount of money each month to pay for them all, it is getting too expensive,” said Mutimer, a senior at the University of Georgia .

According to Forbes, over 70% of U.S. households are subscribed to at least one streaming service. However, the average American is subscribed to 3-4 services, each costing an average of $8.56 per month. That comes out to a minimum of $30 per month.

Most streaming sites offer exclusive content for their service alone. Also, as NPR reported, at least five major new streaming services have launched or are planned all “bursting with original shows, reboots and well-regarded reruns.”

Michael Thomas, a personal finance instructor at the University of Georgia said, “Often times our brains do not think about all the small costs of these services that add up. It is really dependent on the individual and how much they want to put aside for entertainment. It is important to create a spending plan for your discretionary budget and prioritize which services bring the most value to your life.”

To try and manage these costs, users have started getting creative. “A few of my friends and I share the Netflix plan and I have a family Amazon Prime account which has helped keep our costs down,” said Mutimer.

A great option these services provide is through family and friend subscriptions. Thomas added, “The problem is when we spend mindlessly and not mindfully. If your subscriptions are getting away from you, it is probably because you are not prioritizing which entertainment platform is right for you. Try and find ways you can enjoy these services through creative actions like shared plans.”

Although it can be difficult to choose, each service comes with special deals and packages that can fit into a budget and even offer free monthly trials. This gives the user the ability to navigate the site or app in order to decide if that is the right streaming service for them.

By taking advantage of free trials and bundled plans, streaming services can become a great money saving entertainment platform. Thomas added, “The streaming service and entertainment industry can feel financially burdening, but by being aware of what you are paying for and knowing what you want out of a subscription service can make it easy and financially manageable for anyone.”

Caroline Poston is a journalism student at the University of Georgia.