The British consumers spend over £2 billion a year on mobile phone upgrades and other technological gadgets. Fitness trackers. Smart TV. Broadband connection. Video games and consoles. The list is long. It’s fair to say that we, as a society, can’t live without technology. Of course, you wouldn’t want to go back a few decades in the past – did you hear about that time when there were only a handful of TV channels? – and create a tech-free environment within your house. The truth is that everybody spends a lot of money on technology because tech items are part of our everyday life. As it is fully integrated into the most common routines – from paying for your car park via an app on your phone to monitoring your running pace through a wristband – it would be unfair to claim that the best solution to spend less on tech is to stop buying it. Ultimately, if you don’t own the basic technological devices you can’t be a fully integrated member of the society – even more now that most governmental and administrative interactions have gone paperless; you’d struggle to find a self-assessment paper form for your tax return, for instance. But does it mean that our high tech bill is justified?
The answer is a little more complex than a direct yes or no statement. In fact, to be able to answer the question reasonably, you need to understand why you are wasting money on technology – and consequently whether some of your expenses can be cut down.
You don’t check your monthly contracts
You may not be aware of your regular expenses, but what drains a budget can be the memberships and contracts that run via monthly direct debit. Contrary to buying a new device, these are expenses that are not on the back of your mind. In fact, you probably don’t think about them anymore. But by the end of the year, it can be several thousands of pounds that you spend on tech. More importantly, you could be paying more than you need – or more than you use. It’s always worth taking the time to consider your broadband contract, for instance. Most broadband providers change their offers and options frequently, so that the best offer you took a couple of years ago may not be the best on the market anymore. Similarly, you’ll find that the phone insurance – which often comes as an add-on with the purchase of your new mobile – might not be the most cost-effective package for your situation. As most phone companies try to sell you their in-house insurance, it’s likely that you can find cheaper elsewhere!
Review and compare BEFORE purchasing
You’ve postponed it for as long as it was possible but you can’t wait any longer. You need to buy a new laptop. Yours is starting to develop a mind of its own, and you haven’t been able to upgrade the operating system in a long time. Ultimately, while some laptops can last over a decade, it’s fair to say that you should be looking to change your device every 4 to 6 years to keep up with the tech updates. But don’t buy without careful consideration. Most people tend to run cross-device comparisons to figure out which one is best suited to their needs and budget. But too many forget that they can compare eBay and Amazon in one place before committing to purchase. Indeed, you should also run a dual comparison, namely at a device level and at a shop level too. You might come across significant price advantages!
Don’t fall into the vanity purchase trap
The latest iPhones models went on sale across the globe on Friday, 21 September. Needless to say the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max have already attracted a lot of buyers and will continue to. Many smartphone users are also waiting for their previous contract to end so that they can be eligible for a phone upgrade and get their dream iPhone at a high price via their preferred mobile provider. There’s a natural shopping frenzy that might get hold of your reasonable self when a new device is released to the public. For many, it’s an addiction to the upgrade. You need to buy the latest upgraded model because it is, by definition, much better than what you’ve already bought. But is it really? If you’ve purchased the iPhone X when it was released, it’s now a relic in the Apple stores. Indeed, the model is not available for purchase anymore – that’s an upgrade that didn’t last long, to say the least!
Do you really need the new tech?
There’s so much tech available that it’s worth asking what you need and what you don’t need. You wouldn’t want to live without a smartphone – but that doesn’t mean you should buy the latest iPhone models! But one active and modern Millennial did the test for all of us to see. And the verdict is surprisingly positive: You can live without a smartphone and still manage your day-to-day existence. Indeed, when someone stole Wan Raitelli’s phone at a party, she first felt devastated until she realised it was only a device. But, without being a phone addict, she noticed that the absence of her trusted mobile made room for other things in her life. She could be more productive – less distracting notifications –, more present in the moment, and ultimately she could engage with people at a meaningful level. But Wan didn’t remove all tech from her life. She manages everything that needs to happen online through her laptop. The lesson here is that while you might need all your tech devices, you do need at least one to function!
New technology is expensive until it’s not new anymore
One of the most common criticisms about technology is that it’s costly. Getting a new phone can cost as much as a second-hand vehicle. There are more affordable options – you could get a Nokia 3310 – but it comes with significant handicaps – have you tried paying for your car park from a Nokia 3310? There’s no denying that if you want to make the most of the tech devices you buy, you need to be prepared to invest in quality. Take a look at the current VR headsets on the market. While prices have come down a little, you still need to spend almost $800 – or £613 – to get a quality entertainment device. You can, of course, wait for prices to drop on the most obsolete models.
You are a victim of the media
You don’t know you need a new tech gadget until the media tell you otherwise. Take a look at the latest fitness frenzy. The market for fitness trackers has grown dramatically over the past few of years. From wristbands to elegant and sophisticated watches, fitness trackers are everywhere. They can actively monitor your sleep cycles, your running routes and even the calories you spend. They’re so fashionable that most households own at least one tracker. And everything would be fine if you actually needed a fitness tracker; But you don’t. You can exercise without tracking your performance – unless you’re a professional athlete. You don’t need a device to remind you to drink water or to sleep. And more importantly, it’s just a bunch of numbers that will only stress you out. Look after yourself, not your wristband.
Tech finds new ways of disrupting your life
Ah, online ads. Who loves them? Nobody! They’re disruptive and irritating. But more importantly, there are more and more online ads that have made it impossible for users to engage with their laptop or smartphone devices. Disruptive, malicious ads can affect user experience and put you at risk. s While some say that online advertising is only fair if you want to enjoy a free Internet, this has opened a new opportunity for innovative businesses. You can pay to stop disrupting ads, such as you can get access to a premium YouTube platform that doesn’t interrupt your video, for instance.
There is such a thing as technology addiction. As recognised by psychologists, the increased integration of tech in everyday life has encouraged the apparition of a new emotional attachment: I need tech to be happy. There are considerable downsides to the excessive use of technology, from social isolation to a sedentary lifestyle. But when the withdrawal symptoms are too terrifying to face – fear of missing out on social media is a common one –, you often feel that you have no choice but to invest time and money into securing your tech access.
You thought you were saving money online…
So you’ve been checking online for the best price, and you’ve just entered your credit card details to finalise the purchase, and you might discover a few months down the line that your credit card has been used by someone else. While, thankfully, credit card companies are designed to deal with this eventuality, card skimming can lead to significantly high expenses.
From falling victim to a data breach to failing to check monthly occurrences, there are many ways in which tech can make a visible dent in your budget. Should you stop buying tech? Of course not! You need tech to survive in modern society. But you might want to skip on unnecessary purchases whenever possible or use the help of discount code websites to grab yourself some money off.