I’m all about getting those monthly costs down (and my savings rate up), but there are some things that I don’t want to cut from my life. It was great getting to split things like Netflix and a cell phone plan with my former S.O., but as a single millennial woman, it’s harder to have my savings and eat it, too.
Lucky for me, I have the power of friendship. My friends and I have been splitting services, which means I can watch all the Silicon Valley my heart desires.
That said, there are three things you’ll need in order to make this work well:
1: Reliable friends that want to split things with you. I’m lucky that splitting these hasn’t caused problems for my friends, but I understand that it’s not for everyone. This system only works if it doesn’t cause conflict in your life – if your friend isn’t able to consistently split the tab with you on these services, it’s better to shell out the extra cash than to risk the friendship over it.
2: Venmo. You’re going to need something easy to use that lets you and your friends transfer cash easily. Assign one friend to own payments, and have the others pay in through that service. Venmo is really the easiest tool I’ve found to make this happen across banks.
3: Calendar reminders. Automate everything, so things don’t get awkward. Set a recurring reminder every month, 5 days in advance of the billing due date. That way, everyone can send in the cash in time for that payment, and nobody is left holding the bag.
So with those in mind, here are the best services to split amongst friends:
Cell Phone Plans
The idea of a family-exclusive plan is a thing of the past. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t go in with a few friends if you trust them to pay on time. I loved using T-Mobile’s $40/month per line plan with 6 gigs of high speed, but we were grandfathered in. Now, they have a sliding scale for unlimited data, talk, and texting, at $50-40 per person, depending on how many people you have.
Netflix, HBO Go*, Hulu Plus — all of these allow you to share with multiple users. And for each of them, the more users you have, the less you each have to pay. And you can usually do it on the up-and-up.
*Frustratingly, HBO still doesn’t have an untethered option, but if you have a friend with cable, you can get set up in no time.
Technically I could include Amazon Prime Video in the streaming list above, but Amazon Prime deserves a mention on its own.
Amazon makes this very easy – just go to Account Settings and hit “Manage Your Household.” You can enter your friends’ login information, and add them as adult users. Everyone will have their own account, but note that payment information will be shared, so again – be sure you’re sharing with friends you really trust.
If you’re already getting subscription boxes, you probably aren’t using every single item you get. Why not share the love, and share the box?
My favorites are both LA-based startups, and I’m including coupon codes for anyone interested, because you know how I feel about shopping hacks:
1. FabFitFun (code: FAB10 to save $10), which sends out full-sized beauty, fitness, and lifestyle items every three months, and runs $49.99/box (cough cough, $25 each).
2. Loot Crate (code: SAVE10 to, well, save $10), which is awesome for epic nerd gear – and even better, you get to pick what you’re into. These are monthly, and run $19.95/box (cough cough, $10).
I’ve never gotten a box in which every single item appealed to me. Instead, I split my subscriptions with another friend who happens to have tastes similar enough to my own that she wants the boxes, but different enough that we don’t vie for the same goodies! If you have a similar friend, do it, old maid.
Big Box Stores
Ah yes, the other kind of Box business. I’m a sucker for Costco (and their notably ethical business practices), but if Sam’s Club is more your game, go for it. The one trick with these is that you must provide proof that you live with your
coconspirator friend. Just bring in a piece of mail delivered for them at your address, and boom. Costco membership acquired. Now go get your super-cheap rotisserie chicken and nonperishables, and grocery hack to your heart’s content!
So there you have it – 5 super easy things that you shouldn’t be paying for by yourself. Now all you need is a reliable group of friends with similar (but not too similar) preferences, and a Venmo account. Good luck!
My favorite free financial tool I use is M1 Finance. I've previously written about M1's free trades, automatic rebalancing, and easy-to-use interface, but it really does make investing accessible and easy. If you're not already investing in some way, or if you're looking for a tool that makes it easy to manage, I recommend trying it out.
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