Why My Kids Are Paying for Netflix

Photo by Mollie Sivaram on Unsplash

We cut the cord with cable more than 10 years ago. At the time, we were new parents looking to save money (babies are expensive!). Cable seemed like an obvious choice because we were not big tv watchers anyway. Netflix became our streaming service of choice.

Over the years, streaming services have expanded — a lot. Our Amazon Prime membership began to include content. We would go in and out of subscriptions to Hulu and YouTube TV (so my husband could watch live sports).

Then last November, Verizon offered us a free subscription to Disney+ for a year. When the pandemic hit in March, Disney+ became one of our most-watched services, especially for the three-year-old.

When it came time for us to begin paying for Disney+, keeping it was not a question. We decided to bundle it with Hulu and ESPN, but now it felt like we had a lot of services. Especially for people that don’t watch a ton of tv.

My husband suggested that we drop Netflix. It felt a bit like the end of an era. We have had a Netflix subscription since the days that DVDs were shipped to my college apartment. I was a little hesitant because my older kids liked some of the original shows.

Then Netflix informed us that they would be raising the price on our premium plan by $2 per month. I was mad. It had nothing to do with the cost, but we already considered Netflix to be our least-watched service.

Upon a friend’s suggestion, I instead dropped us down to the standard plan: one device, standard definition, $8.99/month. I figured that was a decent compromise to keeping the service to watch occasionally and offsetting the increase we saw when we picked up the Hulu/Disney/ESPN bundle.

I hurried up and finished watching The Queen’s Gambit. We watched The Great British Baking Show as a marathon the week of Thanksgiving. I knew that we would still have access to the service. Still, it felt like preparation for the change in our subscription and only accessing Netflix from one device.

Last night, I informed my kids that our Netflix account was changing in a few days. They howled. We have designated screen time in our house, and apparently, they watch tv shows separately more than I realized. I told them that I didn’t want to pay for the increase in Netflix’s prices, and we would just need to deal.

My 11-year-old asked: “Can we pay for it?” (We being the 11-year-old and 8-year-old)

I gave them an offer: If they each contributed $1 per week from their allowance, I would change our subscription back.

My kids have earned allowance since they were about 5 years old. They earn $1/week per year of their age. So the 11-year-old earns $11/week. They must put $1/week toward charity, and the rest goes into separate checking accounts for both of them. I can show them at any time how much they have in their accounts through the app.

It is enough money that my response to almost everything is “use your allowance.” Even going through the Starbucks line, if we have not pre-determined that it is a family outing, I will make them pay for their own drinks. I’ll immediately do a transfer from their account back into my own checking account. They are forced to think about how much they want that particular item.

Sometimes, they will even pool their money and buy a larger item like a video game. Last year, they separately decided that they wanted subscriptions to Prodigy. An annual subscription is $60/year, so I told them they would each need to give up $1/week of allowance. They both agreed and also made me aware that they did not want to renew, because it didn’t bring them as much enjoyment as they thought.

Back to Netflix. The 11-year-old considered my offer. He said, “Can we talk about it?” After putting their heads together, they informed me that they were both willing to give up $1/week to keep our Netflix membership at the premium level. I told them that Netflix is month-to-month, so they could change their minds at any time.

Then I tried to change our membership back, and Netflix informed me that I could not make further changes until the next billing cycle. Pfftttt. I’ll have to see what happens on the actual day that the plan changes, but we may end up with one month of the lower plan.

Of course, that coincides with when my kids will not have school for two weeks for Christmas break. If I can’t immediately change it back, the kids will likely flip out. I may be canceling and setting up a new account altogether…

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