(StatePoint) These days, the average consumer needs to budget for a variety of tech-related expenses — from data plans to cable bills. These monthly expenses quickly add up.
Here are a few smart strategies for saving money on these budget line items, as well as tips for avoiding common pain points and consumer grievances.
- Know what you’re paying for. Many tech-related monthly bills contain hidden fees and fine print.
“Your mobile bills are some of the most complex. From paying for bits and bytes to hidden fees, the advertised low monthly payment never seems to materialize on your statement,” says Andrea Smith, technology expert and journalist.
In an average year, consumers pay more than $17.2 billion in taxes and fees to the wireless carriers. Often they don’t even know what these fees are for! To save on your bills, look for transparent billing practices, like those that include all taxes in fees on statements and don’t charge you a penny more than promised. T-Mobile’s unlimited monthly plan, T-Mobile ONE, now includes all taxes and fees in the pricing. It’s one of the only wireless providers who guarantee that the price you are advertised is the price you pay.
- Treat your data as a right, not a privilege. It is predicted the majority of TV will be viewed on mobile devices this year, so be prepared to use more data each month than ever before. One key tip: connect your mobile devices to Wi-Fi whenever possible.
If excess data charges constantly turn your family’s wireless bill into a monthly nightmare, find an unlimited plan or a wireless provider that doesn’t charge overages, so your leisure activities aren’t counted against you. Right now, T-Mobile is offering a family of four unlimited data for $40 per line, with taxes and fees included in that price, so there are no bill surprises. The plan also pays $10 back each month to customers who use less than 2GB.
- Help technology help you. These days, mobile apps can help you track spending and some can even help you save. For example, Mvelopes, a free budgeting app, helps users avoid over spending by offering real-time updates as purchases are made. Other apps such as Mint, give users an opportunity to check credit scores and automate bill payments.
- Look for rewards, and then take advantage of them. When choosing service providers, seek out reward programs like the ones you find for credit cards. Some tech companies offer customers exclusive deals on entertainment, dining and more when you download an app or sign up for the program. For example, the T-Mobile Tuesdays app features weekly free offers and discounts to customers from partners including Fandango, Lyft, Wendy’s, Shell Gas and more.
- Evaluate your needs, and slim down accordingly. Do a tech audit. Are you really using that cable or landline service enough to make the expense worthwhile? Could you be a cord cutter and just use streaming video services for TV? Evaluate your consumption for a month and determine if you actually use all the services that you pay for each month.
As we all come to rely more on our technology, it can be easy to pay extra fees blindly. Becoming an informed consumer can help take on any potential challenge or unexpected change.