I Cancelled My Unused Subscriptions. The Money I Saved Paid for a Tesla. - Kanebridge News
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I Cancelled My Unused Subscriptions. The Money I Saved Paid for a Tesla.

A close look turned up a car’s worth of savings I didn’t know existed

By CHRIS KORNELIS
Mon, Mar 4, 2024 9:02amGrey Clock 5 min

My new Tesla was burning a $511 hole in my monthly budget. So I set myself a challenge: Could I cover the cost just by getting rid of cable, Netflix and other subscriptions I didn’t need?

The financially responsible among us might cancel streaming services between seasons of their favorite shows . I tend to add new ones and forget about the old ones, doing my share to support America’s ballooning subscription economy. People pay about $273 a month for subscriptions, which is almost $200 more than they think they do, according to a 2021 survey . (Since then, services like Disney+ and Discovery+ have raised their prices further.)

But I needed to make room for the first car payment in my 41 years. I had taken the family car-shopping when our 2001 Toyota Camry, which we inherited from my wife’s grandmother, started to go. I’m not a car guy and had never once wished I’d owned a Tesla. I booked a demo drive for the Model Y because I thought our kids would get a kick out of it.

The fact that we liked the car was almost as surprising as the fact that it was cheaper than the electric Volvo, Volkswagen and Hyundai options we saw. It felt like a spaceship compared with the Camry, which has 205,000 miles, a broken tape deck and an interior stained with blue and yellow crayon.

Our new monthly payment covered a 12,000-miles-a-year lease with no down payment. Tesla estimated I would save about $100 a month from replacing gas with electric, though I would need to drive (and charge) the car to know for sure. Tesla’s app tracks my estimated savings. For now, that left us with $411 to cut from our other monthly expenses.

My wife was on board. My kids shrugged. I got out my notebook and started making a list.

Cutting the cord

My first stop was my Xfinity bill.

Somehow, it had swelled to $249 a month—basically half the price of the car. In addition to cable and internet, I’d been paying Xfinity for things like a landline because cell service can be spotty in my basement office. So long, landline. After cutting everything but internet, my bill fell to $107. I haven’t dropped a call yet.

Next were the streaming services that I’d been paying for but not watching much. Over the past few years, the only person in the house “watching” Netflix was me. And I wasn’t actually watching it. I was listening to episodes of “Seinfeld” in an earbud when I went to bed. The jokes and the rhythm of their back-and-forths were a pleasant send-off as I fell asleep.

I had joined the growing number of Americans ditching streaming services. I also broke up with BritBox, a streaming service that I’d counted on to watch Agatha Christie’s “Poirot,” as well as Apple TV+. I said goodbye to Hallmark Movies Now, which I’m not ashamed to admit I enjoyed every now and then.

Next up was AT&T .

Paying for cellphone service is like paying the water bill: something I did without protest and never really thought twice about. But I’d started to get curious about the ads I’d been seeing for low-cost services like Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless. When we agreed to let our 13-year-old son have a phone, part of the deal was that he had to pay for and maintain the account himself. He got a plan with Mint Mobile. It has worked so well for him that we decided to give it a try.

We had been paying AT&T about $128 a month for two lines. Now, we’re paying Mint about $65. If there is a downside to making this move, I have yet to notice it.

I’m still paying for that?

Then my wife and I sat at our dining table going through the last couple months of transactions in our checking account. Seeing how much money we were wasting was painful. We were both paying for subscriptions to Canva, a graphic-design service.

We’ve also been paying for Zoom One Pro, which I probably haven’t used in more than a year. I attempted canceling SiriusXM, but they kept me around by dropping the cost by about $5 a month, which is nice because I have become obsessed with a channel dedicated to country artist and sometimes actor Dwight Yoakam.

Upon further consideration I axed subscriptions to IMDbPro and Encyclopaedia Britannica, which I’m sure I’ve used professionally, but…not for a while. Finally, I cut or got reduced rates on four of my digital subscriptions to news publications. I had been making monthly payments to them more often than I was reading them.

In the end, I was able to cut out about $358 in unnecessary bills and subscriptions. Added to the $100 in estimated gas savings, the cost dropped to $53 for a car we desperately needed.

And since the lease came with six months of free access at Tesla Superchargers, the Tesla app tells me I saved $164 by not pumping gas in January, exceeding the $100 I had estimated. In January at least, my car was free-ish.

“So I love and I hate what you did,” David Bach told me. The author of personal finance books like “Smart Couples Finish Rich” has long preached the merits of cutting out small, fixed expenses. But he’d rather have seen me invest the savings.

“If you’re already a millionaire, go enjoy the Tesla,” he said.

No regrets

It isn’t like we’ve had to revert to our DVD collection to entertain ourselves. We still have Disney+, Hulu, Max, the language-learning service Duolingo and, of course , Spotify. We get three print newspapers delivered and many more digital news subscriptions.

I’m reacquainting myself with some shows on the services I kept, like Billy Bob Thornton’s “Goliath” on Prime Video—featuring an exceptional performance from Dwight Yoakam.

It is possible we’ll start subscribing all over again. Americans resubscribe to about 23% of the larger streaming services they cut within three months. That share rises to over 40% after a year, according to Antenna, a subscription-analytics provider.

I get it. I subscribed to Paramount+ for Super Bowl Sunday (yes, I canceled it the following Tuesday). And I’m tempted to return to Netflix every time I get ready for bed. I still haven’t found a lullaby to replace “Seinfeld,” but at least I am the master of my (financial) domain.

I need something upbeat but not preachy, familiar, but with enough episodes that I don’t get too sick of them. I tried “Bob’s Burgers,” but Louise Belcher’s screams and the high-pitched strumming of the ukulele between scenes kept me awake.

Oh well. Reliable transportation is worth the $511 monthly payment. Come to think of it, that feels a lot like a subscription.



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These stocks are getting hit for a reason. Instead, focus on stocks that show ‘relative strength.’ Here’s how.

By KEN SHREVE
Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4 min

A lot of investors get stock-picking wrong before they even get started: Instead of targeting the top-performing stocks in the market, they focus on the laggards—widely known companies that look as if they are on sale after a period of stock-price weakness.

But these weak performers usually are going down for good reasons, such as for deteriorating sales and earnings, market-share losses or mutual-fund managers who are unwinding positions.

Decades of Investor’s Business Daily research shows these aren’t the stocks that tend to become stock-market leaders. The stocks that reward investors with handsome gains for months or years are more often  already  the strongest price performers, usually because of outstanding earnings and sales growth and increasing fund ownership.

Of course, many investors already chase performance and pour money into winning stocks. So how can a discerning investor find the winning stocks that have more room to run?

Enter “relative strength”—the notion that strength begets more strength. Relative strength measures stocks’ recent performance relative to the overall market. Investing in stocks with high relative strength means going with the winners, rather than picking stocks in hopes of a rebound. Why bet on a last-place team when you can wager on the leader?

One of the easiest ways to identify the strongest price performers is with IBD’s Relative Strength Rating. Ranked on a scale of 1-99, a stock with an RS rating of 99 has outperformed 99% of all stocks based on 12-month price performance.

How to use the metric

To capitalise on relative strength, an investor’s search should be focused on stocks with RS ratings of at least 80.

But beware: While the goal is to buy stocks that are performing better than the overall market, stocks with the highest RS ratings aren’t  always  the best to buy. No doubt, some stocks extend rallies for years. But others will be too far into their price run-up and ready to start a longer-term price decline.

Thus, there is a limit to chasing performance. To avoid this pitfall, investors should focus on stocks that have strong relative strength but have seen a moderate price decline and are just coming out of weeks or months of trading within a limited range. This range will vary by stock, but IBD research shows that most good trading patterns can show declines of up to one-third.

Here, a relative strength line on a chart may be helpful for confirming an RS rating’s buy signal. Offered on some stock-charting tools, including IBD’s, the line is a way to visualise relative strength by comparing a stock’s price performance relative to the movement of the S&P 500 or other benchmark.

When the line is sloping upward, it means the stock is outperforming the benchmark. When it is sloping downward, the stock is lagging behind the benchmark. One reason the RS line is helpful is that the line can rise even when a stock price is falling, meaning its value is falling at a slower pace than the benchmark.

A case study

The value of relative strength could be seen in Google parent Alphabet in January 2020, when its RS rating was 89 before it started a 10-month run when the stock rose 64%. Meta Platforms ’ RS rating was 96 before the Facebook parent hit new highs in March 2023 and ran up 65% in four months. Abercrombie & Fitch , one of 2023’s best-performing stocks, had a 94 rating before it soared 342% in nine months starting in June 2023.

Those stocks weren’t flukes. In a study of the biggest stock-market winners from the early 1950s through 2008, the average RS rating of the best performers before they began their major price runs was 87.

To see relative strength in action, consider Nvidia . The chip stock was an established leader, having shot up 365% from its October 2022 low to its high of $504.48 in late August 2023.

But then it spent the next four months rangebound—giving up some ground, then gaining some back. Through this period, shares held between $392.30 and the August peak, declining no more than 22% from top to bottom.

On Jan. 8, Nvidia broke out of its trading range to new highs. The previous session, Nvidia’s RS rating was 97. And that week, the stock’s relative strength line hit new highs. The catalyst: Investors cheered the company’s update on its latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

Nvidia then rose 16% on Feb. 22 after the company said earnings for the January-ended quarter soared 486% year over year to $5.16 a share. Revenue more than tripled to $22.1 billion. It also significantly raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter that was to end in April. In all, Nvidia climbed 89% from Jan. 5 to its March 7 close.

And the stock has continued to run up, surging past $1,000 a share in late May after the company exceeded that guidance for the April-ended quarter and delivered record revenue of $26 billion and record net profit of $14.88 billion.

Ken Shreve  is a senior markets writer at Investor’s Business Daily. Follow him on X  @IBD_KShreve  for more stock-market analysis and insights, or contact him at  ken.shreve@investors.com .