Tips to Manage Your Digital Wants and Needs
Technology has changed the way we listen to music, watch movies and TV, go shopping and keep ourselves informed, occupied and entertained from the moment we wake up in the morning until we go to sleep at night. With that shift in lifestyle, you’ve probably also noticed some changes in your spending habits. It’s all too easy to spend much more than you planned with just a few taps or clicks. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s take a look at the ways you can manage your digital wants and needs.
Shopping on the fly is fast, fun and convenient. Probably a little too convenient for those of us trying to stick to a budget and reach financial goals. The trick to keeping it in check is making it harder to shop. Don’t save your payment information with individual retailers or in your phone. Having to stop and enter your payment information each time will cause you to slow down and evaluate whether you really need the latest and greatest Instagram-ad sensation or that cool gadget you see in your Facebook feed.
How did we ever wait for anything without games on our phone to keep us occupied? They’re fun, addictive and generally free. That is, until you have the option to make in-app purchases. Paying $1.99 for extra lives or buying a bundle of boosters for $4.99 might not seem like much. But do that several times a week and suddenly you’ve spent more than you planned or even dipped into funds that were set aside for bills or necessities. Again, not saving your payment information will make it harder to buy with a click. This is especially important if you give your phone to kids to keep them occupied. They can quickly rack up purchases before you realize they’ve done it.
While vinyl records are making a surprising comeback among Millennials and Gen Z, most of us these days get our new music via streaming services. And for the most part, it’s a great deal. You have access to thousands of songs and artists for a monthly fee. Just be aware of the number of streaming music services you have. Do a quick audit of your accounts to make sure you’re not still paying for services you tried out, but no longer need or use regularly.
Movies & TV
Remember when there was only Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video to choose from? Those days are long gone, as new streaming services seem to pop up every day. Subscribing to all of them would be cost prohibitive, not to mention you’d never have time to watch them all. Fortunately almost all of them have free trial periods (be sure to cancel before you’re billed). Try one or two services at a time to see what you and your family end up watching the most, then choose that as your primary streaming provider. If you love certain shows on HBO, Showtime or other premium channels, wait until the full season is available to binge, then subscribe and cancel the service when you finish. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to buy a full season and own it, rather than streaming it once. Including your streaming costs as part of your entertainment budget can help you manage them more efficiently.