I’m always looking for ways to lower my bills. I would much rather spend money on updating my new house, or buying the gorgeous new couch I have been eyeing. Why do I want to waste money on bills? Especially bills like cell phones that should not be as much as they are each month.
Smartphones are a fixture in modern life, to the point where it’s almost impossible to imagine what life was like without them. However, as undeniably beneficial as cellphones are, they’re far from inexpensive and we are going to address this issue head-on.
I have come up several ideas that can help to cut the costs of owning a smartphone, without having to be concerned about the impact on your budget…
Control data usage
When you’re out and about, data ensures you can stay connected to the internet – which is convenient and, for many people, necessary. However, almost every phone user knows that data has a significant downside: it doesn’t last. You’re halfway through a quick check of social media and before you know it, your monthly allowance is gone, and your additional costs are starting to add up.
You can, however, make a few changes to the way you use your phone on the go in order to limit the amount of data you use:
- The simplest way to reduce data usage? Use data as seldom as possible! Download apps that can tell you where the nearest Wifi hotspot is and use that instead – just remember to be cautious about the types of sites you use, and the information you submit, when connected to a public network.
- Auto-playing videos are a nightmare when you’re using data; it’s one thing to click on a video and knowingly use your data to watch it, it’s quite another when you’re just browsing as normal and an unrelated video suddenly starts to play. Thankfully, you can now disable autoplay videos in browsers such as Chrome as well as in many apps, so the days of losing data to a video you didn’t even want to see are no more.
- If you know you are likely to want to use your phone to keep you occupied for awhile (for example, you have an appointment that you anticipate will have a long waiting time), download articles you might want to read over Wifi before you leave your home. You can then read these articles while you wait, but you won’t have to use your data to do so.
Delay latest upgrade
Every time Apple or Samsung release a new phone, the clamour for the latest handset begins. New handsets are reviewed everywhere you look and there are countless adverts all extolling the benefits of the new device. It’s very easy to get caught up in the momentum of the hype and decide to buy the new model as soon as possible, even if you know that a smartphone model will never be more expensive that it is when it’s newly-released.
However, the hype is just hype – especially given recent trends in smartphone designs. Once, buying a new handset offered a genuine advancement – new models offered something very different to earlier devices, and each upgrade felt like a genuine technological leap. Nowadays, that just isn’t the case. Smartphones haven’t changed very much in the past few years; most of the “upgrades” are now refinements – more pixels on a camera, a few new features that people use once and then forget about – than true technological developments. For a few models now, we’ve seemingly been at peak smartphone; there’s not much more these devices, which are already not dissimilar to miniature laptops you can carry around in your bag, can do.
As a result, delaying the purchase of a new model is definitely the right financial choice. Smartphones, like all electronics, will gradually depreciate in price; if you can wait a year, you’ll save a small fortune compared to the price of the exact same phone 12 months prior.
Consider an unlocked phone
The most conventional way to buy a phone is through a carrier, paying a monthly amount that covers the cost of the phone and then your usage; these contracts are usually between 12 and 24 months. However, while these combination handset/usage deals seem like a good choice due to the convenience they provide, they are far from the most cost-effective one.
The alternative to the standard contracts is to buy an unlocked phone. This option gives you the chance to get a great deal by shopping around for your handset; you don’t just have to pay the price as dictated by your carrier (which is usually far from the best deal). Secondly, you can explore the lesser-known carriers who often offer far better SIM-only contract prices and other perks, such as the SMARTY refer a friend scheme and others like it. Your carrier and your handset simply don’t need to be intrinsically linked, so separate them and enjoy the subsequent benefits.
Consider going without insurance
Smartphone insurance is sold as a “must” – something that people have to buy, and that no financially-sensible person can live without. What’s more, smartphone insurance seems like a fairly good deal, as the amount-per-month seems to be small, so it seems like the best choice.
However, smartphone insurance is not necessarily all it is supposed to be. For one thing, you’ll have to pay a deductible on the claim – which many people decide simply isn’t worth it, choosing to put the money towards upgrading their phone instead. In addition to the deductible, the number of times you can claim in a set period is usually limited, so even with insurance, you’re not going to be 100% covered for every eventuality for the duration of your policy.
Instead, consider a few investments to help protect your phone from harm: screen protectors can make a real difference, and are relatively inexpensive to buy. Specialist protective cases are also worth considering. The funds you would have spent on insurance can then be saved in an interest-earning account, to be called into action if your phone experiences a mishap and needs to be repaired or replaced.
Keep track of app purchases
The process of purchasing apps, or buying in-app purchases, is designed to be very straightforward. You only have to update your card details once; with that done, any time you want to buy a “pro” version of an app to eliminate the ads or top-up a balance in a game you are playing, a few taps of the screen is all it takes to complete the purchase. Easy. What’s more, as the average app or in-game purchase is relatively inexpensive, the whole process of the purchase doesn’t make much of an impact. It’s no effort, the costs are low, what could the harm be?
However, app and in-game purchases can quickly add up over the course of a year, so start to monitor this by looking through your purchase history. Add up all purchases for the past 12 months and store it somewhere on your phone, so you can add to it as you go and therefore monitor the total expenditure rather than just the few dollars here and there.
Finally, you may find that adding together all the previous expenditure may encourage you to reduce the amount you spend on such on app-related purchases in the future. If this applies to you, consider removing your credit or debit card from your app store account, so that if you want to buy, you have to physically locate your card and go through the process of inputting the data each time – as we discussed, buying apps is incredibly easy, so it’s very easy to just click and go for it in the moment. Interrupting that quick purchase gives you time to think again and, ultimately, decide against the purchase.
Good luck cutting the costs of your smartphone in future!
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