With the cost of food, gas and electricity going up, we have no choice but to spend more. But we have more control over how many dollars we allocate to one of our biggest-ticket items: personal technology.
Compared with the cost of gasoline, which surged 48 percent from March 2021 to March this year, prices of tech products like smartphones, computers and apps are just upping the ante – 1.3 percent in the same period, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. General Chat Chat Lounge
Yet any increase is significant because tech products like TVs and phones, which range from a few hundred to a thousand dollars, are so expensive to begin with. What’s more, some luxury devices depreciate as quickly as cars, said Jully-Alma Taveras, a personal finance expert.
“Tech moves so fast,” said Ms. Taveras, a YouTuber known as Investing Latina who offers workshops on investing and saving money. “If we spend so much on a computer, three years from now there is going to be another chip, another upgrade, another thing.”
Other than hardware, we tend to lose track of spending on other types of tech, like online streaming services, cloud subscriptions and cellular bills.
Here are some tips for how to plug some of the biggest drains to our budgets.
Take Control of Online Subscriptions
A few dollars a month to watch your favorite shows on Disney + and another few dollars a month to manage your data with online services like Dropbox might sound like a bargain. But these costs add up quickly.
On average, people spent $ 640 in 2019 on digital subscriptions, including streaming services, cloud storage, dating apps and productivity tools, according to an analysis by Mint, the online budgeting tool owned by Intuit. That ‘s the equivalent of buying a fancy smartphone every year.
Here are ways to curtail that spending:
Create reminders to cancel. Many of us subscribe to streaming services like watch shows on Apple TV Plus and Hulu, but we forget to cancel the program once. We would save precious dollars if we searched for the show’s release schedule and created a calendar reminder for the month that the program airs its finale.
Set goals throughout the year. If creating a Reminder sounds too tedious, there’s a broader approach: set savings goals periodically, like every six months. Dropping a few subscriptions would save hundreds of dollars through the remainder of the year, Ms. Taveras said.
For cloud storage services, try to choose only one. For most people, there are practical reasons to back up data in multiple cloud services, such as Dropbox, Box, iCloud and Google One. Try to choose the one that best suits your device and the type of software you use. A good rule of thumb is to select a cloud service that works well with many types of phones and computers, such as Google One, in case you switch to a different hardware product in the future.
Shave Down Your Wireless Bills
Cellular bills can easily eclipse the cost of the cellphone itself if we’re not mindful about the plans we choose. In the last year, Americans who subscribed to a Verizon Wireless plan spent $ 1,342, and those who subscribed to T-Mobile paid $ 891, according to an analysis by The New York Times by Mint.
But the plans offered by the big carriers aren’t the cheapest options. There are other brands that offer budget phone plans. WalletHub, a personal finance website with a phone plan calculator, found that Visible, which operates on Verizon’s network, offers a best deal for individuals with a package that includes unlimited minutes and data at $ 40 a month. In contrast, Verizon’s basic 5G plan costs $ 70 a month.
What ‘s the catch? You won’t get customer support from an established carrier. Also, off-brand carriers typically support only a limited list of cellphones. The good news is that more of them are now usually included in the most popular devices from Apple and Samsung, so the trade-off is minor.
“You basically get the same coverage for a much lower price,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst for WalletHub.
About Mindful Hardware Upgrades
Smartphone costs keep going up, even though their improvements are increasingly incremental. (This year’s entry-level iPhone SE, for example, costs $ 429, $ 30 more than the 2020 model.) So it pays to deliberate about the best time to invest in new gear and how much you spend, rather than upgrading.
-The life span of our tech devices can be elongated for many years with some maintenance – just make sure to replace the battery every two years and purge unnecessary apps and photos clogging up your device storage.
When it comes to upgrade time, what’s newest and fanciest is not always the best for your budget. Ms. Taveras said it was common for her students, some of whom are in debt, to spend $ 5,000 on a new computer. That might make sense for some, but many could live without the excessive frills and net significant savings, she said.
It’s worth bearing in mind that when something new arrives, it’s also an opportunity to buy last year’s model – which is usually very capable – for cheaper.
“I’m fine getting the second latest phone because the technology is still great,” Ms. Taveras said. “These small financial wins are really important.”