How Much Data Do You Really Need?

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For a lot of people, their cell bill is a really large part of their budget and with huge contracts, it’s very easy to see why. Cell phone companies charge hundreds of dollars for things like unlimited talk, text and data and then do their best to convince you that you absolutely need every bit of unlimited everything when in reality, you don’t. The thing is though that while unlimited talk and text are usually needed to handle how often we all talk to our friends and family, unlimited data usually isn’t. In fact, unlimited data can easily become a budget killer for most people. How do you fix it though? You start with figuring out how much data you really need and going from there.

Do you pay for too much data? Chance are that you do! Find out how to figure out how much data you really need and start lowering your cell bill now!

When you’re looking at lowering your bill because of data costs, you’ll want to do one very important thing first. Check your contract if you have one. It might require you to keep your data at its current rate. If that is the case, check how much money your early termination fee is versus how much money you will save by switching companies and/or plans. Go with whichever one will save you more in the long run. If you’re not in a contract, it won’t matter too much if you drop your data amount or switch companies. If you end up having to switch phones, selling your old one can usually help significantly with the cost of buying a new one.

How Much Data Do You Really Need?

So how much data do you have on your phone right now? 1 GB? 2 GB? Unlimited? We used to be a 3 GB family for one phone. Then I took a look at my usage and realized that we could drop down to 1GB and not have a single issue. Most of the time our phone was connected to WiFi so there was no reason for us to continue paying $60 extra per month for that extra 2GB that we weren’t using. That was back when we were on a contract (we’re prepaid now), but I still pay attention to it in case I need to opt for more one month. When I’m looking at whether we need to increase or decrease how much we’re paying for, I ask myself a few things.

Are you over using the data you have? – In all honesty, some people don’t even know how much data they are using. They use data for everything from playing games to checking their email constantly and pay no attention to how much data they’re actually using. As a result, this can cause nasty expensive data overages. I know that some companies charge as much as $15 per GB of data overage. Doing that too many times can make a person go broke really quickly.

Why do we need more data? – Are you or your kids in college and or high school and need data for school? Do you travel a lot for work? Or are you a stay at home mom who spends most of her time connected to your home network? If you’re not in school or traveling for work then there’s a good chance that your data is primarily used for social media or for surfing the web. If this is the case, cutting back may be something you want to look at.

Can I connect to WiFi more often? – One way to save money while using data is to use WiFi when possible. Granted, this takes some thinking on your part, but it’s possible. Your own home network can be connected when you’re at home and these days there are a ton of restaurants and businesses that offer free WiFi to their customers. Walmart even allows you to connect for free. Once you’ve connected to a network, you can set your phone to automatically connect to WiFi when you get close to it so that you don’t slip and use data on accident.

WiFi calling is even possible and can save you even more. Companies like Republic Wireless run their entire networks on WiFi and as a result are able to offer pre-paid plans for as little as $15.00/mo. The calling quality is fantastic and you save big on data.

Is Someone on my plan using more data than needed? – With most carriers, you can monitor the data the people on your plan are using so if one person is going over their data allotment, it isn’t hard to find out. Once they get close to their allotted time, give them a warning. If they go over, charge them for the additional fees that you’ve incurred. If it becomes a habit? It may be time to think about removing them from your plan and lowering your data allowance.

How much money will I save? – In the end, lowering your data package is about one thing: lowering costs. This means that you do need to figure out exactly how much you will be saving per month if you drop your costs. To figure out your costs best, do the math both monthly and yearly. That will give you a more complete picture of what you really need to pay for, what you don’t want to be paying for and which option is best for you and your family.

Once you’ve answered all of the questions, take the time out to actually make the changes that you need to. It’s one thing to sit and do the math and figures, but it’s very, very easy to get distracted and never make the actual changes. I know that if I don’t make doing things like this a priority, it gets lost in the shuffle and really? Who wants to pay more than they need to for longer than necessary?


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Stacy Barr
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Stacy Barr

Stacy Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family.By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

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