How you can reduce smartphone spending


Almost one in three young Australians have felt pressured into signing a mobile phone contract in order to get the smartphone they wanted. And one in five claim they have been locked into a plan they couldn’t afford.

Canstar Blue’s latest survey of smartphone users has revealed the extent to which many young Aussies feel under pressure – be it from friends, family or the media – to keep up with the latest trends in consumer technology. One in four admitted they have felt under pressure to buy the latest smartphone to keep up with their peers.

That social pressure can translate to financial concerns, with 13% of Gen Ys telling us they have struggled with a mobile phone debt, while 30% have been hit by shock bills.

Our research has shown us that consumers on a plan spend roughly half what someone who uses the prepaid option does every month. The 1,600 smartphone owners we surveyed tally up an average monthly spend of $56.88. The big question is: are there savings to be had?

Cutting back on smartphone costs

There are three major areas in which you can save on your smartphone.

  1. Carrier Costs
  2. Device Costs
  3. Lifetime repair/ancillary costs

Which phone plan / prepaid option will work out the cheapest?

The most important thing to consider when signing up to any mobile phone contract is whether or not you can realistically afford the monthly payments. Be honest with yourself and don’t underestimate the significance of what you’re doing – a mobile phone plan represents a serious financial commitment over an agreed period of time, just like any loan you might get from a bank. If you fail to meet those regular payments, there will be consequences, including damage to your credit rating.

First, consider whether or not a prepaid option could work best for your circumstances. This really depends on how much data you tend to use, how many calls you make, and how many texts you send. If the answer is “not much” then prepaid could be a good idea – allowing you to set budgets and make sure you don’t spend what you can’t afford. However, if you rarely put your phone down and use lots of data, there could be better value in signing up to a good plan.

To their credit, the big telco companies are starting to make it easier for consumers to understand what sort of plan works best for them. For example, Vodafone recently earned a Canstar Blue Innovation Excellence awards for its Data Workout Plan, helping customers understand how much data they actually need each month.

Consider what other consumers think about their current mobile phone provider ratings.

Which smartphone should you buy?

Joseph Hanlon, Editor of tech comparison site WhistleOut, offers the following words of wisdom: “It’s terrible that so many Aussies feel that they struggle with the cost of their phone service. The good news is that if you have a working smartphone, and you can resist the temptation to upgrade to a newer model, there are huge savings in SIM-only monthly phone plans. People who have been paying $70 a month or more will find they can halve their bill each month and not lose any of the service they have come to expect.”

Look at the costs of your potential smartphone handset purchase, divide the cost by the number of months you’ll have your carrier plan for, and see how it compares to a plan that bundles an included device. If it works out to be cheaper, great! If it’s a similar price, you might find that it’s ultimately a more cost effective choice to bundle.

Our latest smartphone ratings offer an interesting insight into what consumers think about their own phones and which they believe stand out in different areas. Take a look at what people just like you have said about their smartphones. Of particular interest to you, readers, may be the ‘value for money’ section. If you decide to purchase outright, phone prices will vary widely in both online and retail stores. Shop around for a price you’re comfortable paying.

Lifetime repair / ancillary costs

Dropping your device effectively ensures you’ll end up paying through the nose to repair the tiny components inside. Because of this, invest early on in a durable, no nonsense phone case (a black phone case is a lot less likely to attract the attention of thieves than one with the cast of Game Of Thrones on it). There are plenty of reviews online for countless devices.

The other big costs are apps, games, movie and TV rentals, digital music subscriptions, etc. They all seem cheap on the surface, but the small amounts add up over time. We suggest you go into your Apple or Google account and add up what you spent in the previous year – you might be surprised.

Our ultimate savings tip
Investing in one of these bad boys will be quite cheap. Plus, they come with Snake 2 for free!

Our findings featured in a special report on A Current Affair, which you can watch below.

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