One of the easiest ways to waste money on technology these days actually has nothing to do with devices. Rather, it has to do with apps. These little digital programs – many of them free, at least on the surface – have become inexorably tied to our day-to-day lives. We rely on them to tell us the weather, help us stay organized, handle our communications, entertain us, and fulfill all sorts of additional functions. In some cases though, we also end up spending more than we mean to on them.
It’s hard to find an exact average amount that people spend on apps, because the discussion can be framed in various ways. However, a 2017 article citing a study focusing on the American market stated that within said market, the average iPhone user spent $63 on apps and in-app purchases in a year. And that number was up from $47 just one year prior. We can’t assume the same trajectory over time, but the general direction is clear – and keep in mind, this is an average. That means there are plenty of people out there spending hundreds of dollars each year on apps.
Now, some of these purchases might be perfectly necessary, enjoyable, or justified. However, many if not most mobile users would rather not be spending as much, which is why we’ve put together a few tips on how to cut back.
Use An App
Ironic though this idea may be, there are apps designed to help you spend less, typically by providing a comprehensive picture of your budget and spending habits. Some of these apps are free, and even if they cost a bit they can ultimately result in net savings simply by making you more aware of where else you’re spending on mobile programs. If nothing else, one of these apps might give you your own personal spending number (as opposed to the averages mentioned above), which can drive you to do a closer examination of your mobile habits. This can even set you up better for addressing some of the additional tips we’ll be covering below.
It’s very easy to look at the cost of an app – perhaps $0.99, or $2.99, or something similarly inconsequential – and shrug it off as “basically zero.” This can come into play in particular when downloading an app that’s redundant with another, just to try it out. For instance, if you have one nice weather app but you read a good review of another, you might pay for it just to see which one you like better. This is okay if you can afford it, or if it’s only on rare occasions, but these extra purchases can add up more quickly than you think, and you may find at the end of a given year that you’ve spent some $25 or $30 on apps that were basically duplicates of ones you already had.
Find Free Alternatives To Paid Games
Both paid games and free ones with in-app purchases are major sources for app-related expenses. They’re also fairly easy to avoid, given that users can often find free alternatives to games that cost money. For instance, many of the most popular arcade games – Minecraft, Plants vs. Zombies, etc. – are available through internet browsers.
Track Your Subscriptions
This is actually another area in which you can download a new app specifically to help you avoid spending too much on other ones (given that there are apps built specifically to track your subscriptions). The idea is that through various types of mobile apps it’s easy to start collecting subscription fees – $5.99 for a digital magazine here, $8.99 for a music streaming service there, etc. Alongside games, subscription costs have become some of the ones that add up the most for a lot of mobile users. And while you may well want to hold onto some of them, a lot of the costs can come from subscriptions you don’t realize you’re paying, or that you meant to cancel. Tracking subscriptions carefully can result in substantial savings.
Avoid Free Trials Whenever Possible
This last tip is closely related to the one about tracking subscriptions, because often a free trial leads to a recurring payment. To call it a “trick” might be a bit much, but let’s just say there are plenty of mobile programs out there that make a lot of money on offering free trials with the hopes that users will sign up, forget to cancel, and then wind up paying what’s essentially an invisible cost (giving that it happens through the phone, rather than by the direct use of a credit card, PayPal, etc.). So the tip here – though it requires some discipline – is to avoid free trials entirely, or at least be very careful about them when you sign up for them. Try instead to be decisive, and sign up only for those services you think you’re more likely to want to end up paying for than not.