UNSHACKLED.com shares with us their top tips for spring cleaning your phone finances and saving money on your mobile phone.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve started the new year making plans to shake up your fitness regime and your finances, proudly stating that 2017 will be the year you finally get yourself sorted. Well, we can’t help you with your own gym routine, but we can help you get your phone bills in shape and on a diet!
Here’s all you need to know about saving money on your phone:
Know your data usage
This is a simple but really important thing to check. Knowing how much data you actually need can be the difference between overpaying for data you don’t need or getting slapped with extra charges every month for going over your allowance. If you’re mid-contract, monitor your usage so that you know when to jump on Wi-Fi, or when to ask for an increase in your data allowance. If you’re near the end of your contract, use it as a benchmark for how much data you need to include in your new phone plan.
Turn on data alerts and set limits
Prevention is always better than cure, so regardless of data usage, it’s a good idea to turn on any alerts available to you, so that you can calm down on the mid-commute cat videos if you really need to. Most phones will let you set up alerts in your Settings tab and a lot of network providers will also offer to text you once you reach a certain limit, so you have a choice of how to monitor your usage.
Look after the phone you have
Screen protectors and shock absorbing cases are the kind of things that seem like added expenses – until you drop your phone and have to look into screen repair prices. The better the condition you keep your phone in, the higher its trade in value will be when you want to upgrade. And if you ever do need to send your phone in for repairs, you’ll feel much better to have an old backup phone lying around that you can revert to while the repairs get done.
It’s always a good idea to make sure your phone is insured as well, either on your contents insurance or on a specific phone insurance plan.
Know how to avoid roaming charges
Depending on how long you plan to be abroad, there are a few options open to you. If it’s a short holiday break, switch your phone into Airplane Mode then turn Wi-Fi back on as well as buying a roaming data bolt-on from your network provider. If you’re going to be travelling for longer, look into getting your phone unlocked and buying a local SIM.
Break the ‘early upgrade’ cycle
When you’re two thirds into your phone contract and starting to resent your old phone compared to your friend’s shiny new one, it’s easy to be seduced by the early upgrade offer you get from your network provider. The problem is, they’re rarely the best deal currently available in the market, they’re just built to seem convenient and better than your current deal. So this time, say no to jumping from one 24-month contract to another and find yourself a phone deal you don’t end up hating halfway through. Really can’t wait? You could always look at leaving the contract early, depending how much you truly hate your current deal.
Know your contract end date
Being unaware that we’re still paying our phone bills outside of a contract costs the UK around £355million a year. That’s each of us paying £92 more than we need to for phones we already own. So go and check your end date now – if you haven’t kept your paperwork, you can always ask your phone provider – and add it to your calendar. Set up an alert a few weeks before the actual end date, so you know when to ring up your network provider and ask to be dropped down to SIM-only, or what date you need to have a new phone plan lined up by.
Think of your phone and SIM as separate things
After all, they are two separate things. Just as your laptop and your broadband provider are two separate things. Your car and the petrol you put into it are two separate things.
If you’re happy with your phone but at the end of your contract, all you need is a new SIM plan, and there are hundreds out there these days, at differing price points and data allowances. If your happy with your SIM plan and just want a new phone, look for something reliable, affordable and unlocked.
Or, if you’re in the market for both, look into buying them both separately instead of in a bundled contract – this is more flexible than the traditional 24-month phone contract and will end up saving you a fortune in the long run. You’ll usually save when you start the new phone plan, as there’s so many cheap SIM only deals available, then again when you want to trade your phone in a year or so after purchase, while it still has high trade in value and you don’t have to pay early upgrade or exit fees.
If you think of your SIM plan as just another utility bill and run that quick annual check that you’re on the cheapest tariff for your usage, making the switch if you’re not, you’ll end up making even further savings.
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