What would we do without our gadgets? (You don’t have to answer that if it hurts too much!)
If you’ve ever felt a phantom phone vibration, hallucinated your ringtone in the middle of the day, or couldn’t determine north from south without Google Maps, then you know how integral technology is in our lives. Sure, we spend a big chunk of change on the latest and greatest, but are we getting the most for our money?
In the age of automatic bill payments and ever-changing terms and conditions, it’s important that you grab a hold of how you spend money on your gadgets and be sure we’re doing so responsibly. Here are three things you can do to help ensure this.
1. Unplug Your DVR
If you unplug phone and laptop chargers when not in use, you help Mother Earth, but you don’t shave that much off your electricity bill. According to the National Resources Defense Council, your beloved DVR is much more of an energy suck! If you’re not using your cable box or DVR, unplug it.
Think about it—we’re only home after 5 p.m. anyway. And sometimes, I go days without watching cable TV, opting for a Netflix binge session on my computer instead. If you really want to save cash, look into cancelling your cable subscription altogether. For some people, it’s worth it; for some, it isn’t. Do you research!
2. Fight Facebook Autoplay
You’ve probably noticed one of Facebook’s newest features: videos that autoplay. If you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, autoplaying a video every time you scroll down your newsfeed can drain your data. For those with limited data plans, this is a nightmare!
Facebook opted in all users for this feature in 2013, but there’s a way to disable it! I have an iPhone, so I’ll give you the scoop: on the home screen, click Settings → Facebook → Settings → Autoplay → Select “off” or “Wi-Fi only”. Boom! While you’re in your settings, look for other programs you might want to limit to Wi-Fi only.
3. Stream Music Carefully
When your cellphone provider hits you with overage charges, it hurts. I know. But it’s up to us to keep track of our data plans and act accordingly.
I’ve been burned too many times to use iTunes again, and I’m not savvy enough to put my music “in the cloud.” So, I opt for Spotify. But beware: that awesome 90s playlist you created could drain your data relatively quickly. Just scour Spotify’s forums to read the experiences of users who unknowingly ate up all their data during a seemingly harmless road trip back to mom and dad’s house.
To determine how much data your music streaming app uses, you’ll need to use … another app, like Onavo or My Data Manager. Also, be on the lookout for other services as this industry gets more competitive. I saw an ad for T-Mobile’s new data-strong network the other day. They boast the ability to stream music without using your data at all. Hmmm … Time to research early termination fees …
How do you keep your gadgets from draining your wallet?