Personal Finance

Many people have no idea how much they pay for Netflix — or apparently care

Key Points
  • Consumers often underestimate what they spend on subscription services, like Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime.
  • On average, people shell out twice as much as they think they do.
  • Whatever the cost, many consumers consider themselves "happily hooked."
Netflix raising prices by 13% to 18%
Netflix raising prices by 13% to 18%

Even as Netflix hikes prices, many people have no idea how much they already pay for the subscription service — or seem to care all that much.

On Tuesday, the video streaming and content creation company announced its biggest increase since beginning its streaming service 12 years ago. The price boost takes effect immediately.

About 84 percent of consumers in a survey underestimated what they shell out on their subscription services, like Netflix, and , according to a report by the Waterstone Management Group, a Chicago-based consulting firm.

On average, consumers already spend more than twice as much as they think they do on those monthly expenses, which includes , and : Consumers estimated they spend $111 a month on such services when they actually average $237, Waterstone found in its survey of 2,500 people last year.

And regardless of the price tag, consumers were “happily hooked” on many of their subscriptions, particularly Netflix and (which had previously to $119 a year), cable TV and music streaming services, such as Spotify, the report said.

In fact, Netflix's previous rate increases have had little effect on subscribers, and have traditionally buoyed the stock.

At the same time, families have less slack in their budgets than before, according to research by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Household spending has risen 25 percent or more in the past two decades, even adjusting for inflation, yet incomes have not kept pace, the study said.

In addition, one-quarter of Americans, or roughly 55 million people, have , according to a separate report by

Monthly recurring expenditures such as gym memberships and cable and streaming services are a great place to find opportunities to save, according to David Bach, author of "Smart Women Finish Rich" and co-founder of AE Wealth Management, an investment advisory firm.

"People focus on what it costs a month but they don’t think about what it costs over a year and they really don’t think about what it costs over a decade," he said.

For example, scaling down to basic cable from premium could save $100 a month, he suggested. Investing that $1,200 a year at 7 percent interest would amount to $17,308 in savings in 10 years.

(Disclosure: Comcast owns CNBC parent NBCUniversal)

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