Is Netflix Worth It? Let’s Ask My Kids

by Travis Pizel · 17 comments

Two cardboard mailboxes sat under the Christmas tree, one for each of our kids. They contained a homemade certificate granting the recipient a free month of Netflix streaming service. The kids were both very excited about the gift, as they’d been begging us to sign up for quite a while.

Between the two months given as gifts, and the free promotional month offered at Christmas time, the kids received three months total, after which they’d have to make a decision.

Drop the service, or pay for it themselves.

We’re now into the third month, so it’s time for them to decide their path. I sat them down and explained to them that the service costs a total of $8.60 a month. If they choose to keep it, they will each have to contribute $4.30 per month, or about $1.07 a week, from their allowances.

How My Kids Use Netflix

I asked them both to tell me how often they use Netflix, and what they watch on it.

My daughter is a big fan of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” She’ll wind down for the evening by lying in bed and watching several commercial-free episodes on her laptop.

My son has become a fan of “The Walking Dead” and will watch it on his PC when he’s taking a break from video games. He also uses it to watch movies through his Xbox when his friends are over. It’s much cheaper than renting a movie on demand through our cable service, and is more convenient than asking my wife or me to go get a movie from Redbox.

Both of them agreed that the service was worth the cost.

Why I Let My Kids Decide

My wife and I look at our recurring bills each month to ensure they’re adding the appropriate amount of value to our lives in relation to the cost. I explained this process to my kids and said I wanted to do the same with them. We’ll have this same conversation each month, during which I’ll ask them both to analyze whether or not they want to continue paying for the service.

I’ve seen so many people sign up for a monthly service such as a big cable package, cell phone service, satellite radio, etc, only to not use it to its full potential. They pay the bill month after month, year after year, never questioning whether they could downgrade, or live without the service entirely.

By questioning their Netflix service each and every bill cycle, my kids will really think about whether they want to continue spending their money. I call it being wise with money, and it’s a process I want to ingrain into their minds as they become young adults.

Have you ever paid for a monthly service even though you hardly used it? How long did it take you to finally cancel it?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Arminius Aurelius says:

    Regular T.V. [ ComCast ] is a rip off . When you consider what you have to pay for the basic which is repeated over and over again and then to add insult to injury , about 20 minutes of every hour are commercials . I refuse to pay them extra in order to view a reasonably good film. You can buy used Videos or DVD’s for about $ 3.00 each from Flea Markets and yard sales. I have over 150 films that I really enjoy. You can trade them with friends and neighbors. You can also borrow them from your local library . Comcast et al are Greedy bastards.

    • Travis says:

      I don’t disagree that the cable companies are greedy…..but it all depends upon what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to watch the latest movies, buying used DVDs from garage sales and Flea Markets doesn’t cut it. But if that scratches your entertainment itch, more power to you!

  • The Phroogal Jason says:

    Netflix has been my choice for entertainment and definitely worth it. The small monthly amount is well worth the expense especially when I don’t spend much time watching TV/cable.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      If you’re not a big TV watcher, then Netflix definitely IS a great choice, Jason. It’s much less expensive than even the most basic of cable packages. Thanks for sharing!

  • fredjohnson says:

    I have $150 a month cable. And also have Netflix and Amazon Prime video. Some people call that overkill. I call it lot’s of choices. I’m happy.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      The lesson I’m trying to teach my kids is that they need to evaluate each expense to ensure they bring the appropriate amount of value to them – sounds like your answer is in favor of many choices. As long as you’re happy, and you can afford it, go for it fredjohnson!

  • Alex says:

    Super parenting technique there.
    I’ve personally always insisted in living bare, without any of the latest technologies and deals. It’s a problematic stubbornness but the thing is, me and technology don’t mix too well. And I’m also very picky about what shows and movies are actually worth watching the first place.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      Thanks Alex! Sounds like you’re very selfish with your money – which you SHOULD be! If you have to work hard for it, you only want to spend it on things that are worth it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Alex @ Credit Card XPO says:

    I used to have Netflix but have switched to Amazon prime. To me, Prime gives me better value since I get 2-day free shipping on almost everything I buy plus free streaming for $79/year. Unfortunately, Amazon has just announced they will increase the rate to $99/year when my membership renews this year, so I’ll see if it’s still worth keeping it by then.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      That’s a pretty good deal, especially if you do a lot of shipping, Alex. $20 a year isn’t too big of an increase, I’d be interested in finding out whether you keep it or not!

  • Marie Zalbe says:

    I cut off my cable subscription last year because it’s just a waste of money for me. I have read some good reviews about Netflix, but unfortunately it’s not available in our country.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      Good for you for recognizing that cable isn’t worth it to you, and making the decision to cut it. Hopefully Netflix will become available soon for you…’s quite inexpensive AND there’s lots of choices of things to watch!

  • David @ says:

    We don’t have cable anymore and instead have Netflix. It’s one of the best moves I’ve ever made.

    Obviously, not needing to pay like $70 bucks a month for TV is great but I’m no longer channel surfing all the time (for no reason) and that time is instead spent with my family.

    So for about a negative $60 investment, I get to have more time with my kids!!

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      That’s awesome that the lack of cable has given you more time with your kids. For us, cable actually is one source of family time. We have family movie nights, plus there are some weekly shows that we watch all together. It all depends upon how you use it, I guess. Thanks for weighing in, David!

      • David @ says:

        Different strokes for different folks I guess.

        I imagine it would be harder to keep a “no cable TV” policy when our two kids (now 4 and 1) are in school and all the kids are talking about the shows they are watching.

        We will have to report back then!

  • Rob @ The Military Financial Planner says:

    Small “recurring bills” add up to be the biggest budget busters. We cut out cable, but spend on Netflix. Still debating Hulu+

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      They certainly can add up to be budget busters – or also a significant monthly savings if you find some services you can cut. The question is, do they provide real value to your life, and is it worth the money spent? Right now my kids’ answer is “yes,” but it will be interesting to see if they continue to feel that way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Rob!

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