Trimming spending on digital subscriptions using privacy-friendly DNS

Why pay for something if you don’t need to?

When I subscribed to YouTube Music, it was because I needed a music subscription service. I’d been using Spotify for a few years, but I wanted to change things up a bit, and it seemed like a pretty good deal to be able to get the Family version of YouTube Music for $14.99 a month and then pay $3.00 more per month to have an ad-free YouTube experience that I could share with a few relatives.

There’s a bit more to YouTube Premium than that, like having background play on mobile, but just not being bombarded with ads was what really mattered to me. I have an ad-blocker on my browser, but I don’t have one on my TV, and I was playing a lot of YouTube videos through my TV at the time. So, it seemed worthwhile.

Trying to pare down the things I own, the things I spend money on, the things I wear, has been something I’ve been working on for months or maybe years now. I’ve been trying to simplify my life so that I can regain some freedom to just sit and enjoy life without being burdened by the mental weight of all the things I own, subscribe to but don’t use, bought but can’t find time to use, and so on.

I’ve made a lot of progress with removing items, so I started thinking about other ways to minimize. One easy way is to limit the number of subscriptions for digital services I have. It’s easy enough to put Hulu on pause when we’re not using it. I still need to take a look at Netflix and see if I can do something similar. I probably won’t be renewing Disney+ when my annual subscription ends. Instead, I’ll just wait about a year, pay for 1 month, and then catch up on the few things that I actually want to see. We also have Amazon Prime, which includes videos. Oh, and HBO Max.

It’s kind of annoying, but they seem to be in collusion with each other, to always be offering one or two shows that most people would really want to see so that you can’t get away with just having one subscription or another. Or not having a “pause” option so that you can easily bounce back and forth without losing your watch history and watch lists.

So, for paring down digital services, I went after the low-hanging fruit first, which in this case is YouTube Premium. Of all the services I use, this one provided the least return for the money I was paying, and I think I found a way to retain most of the benefit of the subscription (to me) without having to actually pay for it.

I was doing some research and came across an article that was talking about setting up a Pi-Hole, a Raspberry Pi (a type of single board, small computer) that has been configured to block ads and monitor your home network. I don’t want to put money into more hardware at the moment, but reading up on Pi-Holes clued me in to DNS providers that will block ads, scams disguised as ads, and some forms of malware by just changing the DNS settings on my home router.

Some of them charge money after a free trial period, typically about $20 per year, but Adguard provides this service for free, for now. So, I figured, why not use AdGuard to block the ads on YouTube instead of paying a subscription fee to accomplish the same task? It would save me $17.99 + tax per month and give me an excuse to cut off a service that I wasn’t really using enough to justify the cost.

I don’t listen to as much music in the car as I used to. I generally listen to audiobooks that I borrow from the New York Public Library or Brooklyn Public Library or podcasts that I download before leaving the house. For what music I do want to listen to, our Amazon Prime subscription should pretty adequately cover our needs. That’s another problem: overlapping services.

Anyway, hopefully AdGuard will block any advertising that may be included with Amazon Prime Music at home and we won’t notice much of a change in our daily routines. Eventually, I’ll set up a Pi Hole here at home, but that’s going to have to wait. Before that, I want to figure out a home network storage solution for backing up our important media and making it accessible from anywhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.