When you budget for you expenses at your new place, you never forget to account for the obvious things: rent, electricity, water, etc. But what you might not have thought about is how much your electronic habits are costing you. Here are a few ways you can cut back to save on your electronic expenses.
Netflix AND Cable AND Hulu, Oh My!
With all the different provider-exclusive media available these days, it can be easy to convince yourself that you really do need a subscription to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and cable. But honestly, if you have to wait a few months for the newest season of Always Sunny to go up on Netflix instead of watching it on TV, or can only watch Hulu-exclusive series at your friend’s house, you’ll survive. TV is definitely not a necessity, so there’s no need to be paying like it is. Pick one service you’ll use the most, and say goodbye to the others, at least until you’ve got a bit more in the bank.
Free TV? Yes, It’s Possible
If you’re feeling really brave, cancel all paid channels and get yourself a TV antenna, formerly known as rabbit ears. If your TV is post-2007 model, for an one-time investment of as little as $15.99 you can start getting all your local channels free. Check out this article for more information about how to do it.
Or get yourself a library card, and watch the savings add up. Most libraries lend out DVDs as well as books, anyway.
Auto-Renewal: The Forgettable Expense
Beware of things that auto-renew your subscription. If you’ve signed up for a free trial on anything, MARK YOUR CALENDAR with a reminder to cancel your subscription a few days BEFORE the trial runs out. Do this for everything that auto-renews, even the things you like and use and don’t see yourself cancelling any time soon (like Amazon Prime or Netflix). This way, before each renewal date, you have a reminder to reexamine your bills and make certain that you’ve prioritized your budget properly. And if you run into trouble one month, you’ll know for sure exactly when your next charge will occur, and you can prepare appropriately, whether that means pestering your buddy for the $20 he still owes you, or cancelling your subscription for the next couple months.
Unplug Every Night
We’ve mentioned this many times on MFA, but a reminder never hurts. If your things are plugged into the wall, even if they’re not turned on, they’re still drawing a little power. So, you know that super awesome electronic gaming system you’ve got that takes like four power strips to run? Unplug it when you’re not using it (or at the very least, please make sure you’ve turned it off). If you can get in the habit of unplugging your unnecessary things before bed, you’ll save yourself eight hours of electricity usage. (Also, leaving things plugged in is actually a fire hazard, especially if it’s that toaster you bought for $7.)
As a bonus, if you unplug your phone, laptop, and tablet chargers instead of leaving your devices plugged in all night, you’ll extend the lifetime of their batteries. (Although technology has gotten better about this in recent years, it’s still not good for your electronics to leave them plugged in and charging after they’ve hit 100%).
Unlimited Data? Really?
Anyone with a smartphone knows how great it is to have a tiny computer constantly at your fingertips. The thing is, anyone with a smartphone also knows just expensive this luxury can be, especially if you’re shelling out for large amounts of data each month. And yeah, it’s fantastic to be able to stream as much music, video, and gaming as you want wherever you are, but let’s be honest, it’s definitely not a necessity. If you have Wi-Fi at home, work, and/or school, then paying extra for lots of data is just wasteful. Believe me, I’ve heard every argument as to why unlimited data is essential to a person’s survival—“My Wi-Fi at home is really slow!” “I can’t live without my YouTube channels!” “I have to stream music while I drive!”—and none of them have changed my mind.
Sure, it will require some adjustments on your part to go from 50GB a month to 5GB, but you can handle it, I believe in you! It might take you a little longer to download a file over Wi-Fi than data, you might not be able to watch a new video the moment it’s uploaded to YouTube, and you may have to, gasp!, listen to FM radio instead of Pandora, but none of those things are life-changing.
”Not so fast Miss Know-It-All!” you’re thinking, “what about my phone’s GPS? That’s something I actually can’t go without, and that takes data! Or what if there’s an emergency and I have to look something up online? See, I need data!”
Well, I answer, I’m not saying you should get rid of data completely. Data’s great, and I can’t imagine not having any data at all. But things like using your GPS or browsing the internet take wayyyy less data than you think. My SO and I share 2GB a month, and we’ve never even come close to hitting our limit.