Adventures in Tracking Phone Data Usage

In an effort to determine whether or not my current phone plan can be cut down (fact: it can), I am tracking my data usage over this month. When I opened my Settings, I saw that my usage was FIFTY GIGABYTES, and I am only halfway through the month! A very big reason for this is because I had a million apps open in the background, sucking data while I’m at work because I turn off the wifi (so I can check Instagram at school…busted). I also stream podcasts a lot, and that streaming uses so much data when I could be pre-downloading them while I’m on wifi.

Why am I so lackadaisical about this, you ask? Well, I have used Virgin Mobile my entire life, and while I really did think that their service worked for me, I bought a new phone last year upon dropping my phone in the toilet. When you switch a phone, you’re not grandfathered into your old plan. This becomes a lifestyle creep if you don’t pay attention to the costs associated with this. To achieve the same plan, I paid 20 more dollars a month, to a total of 54.00 a month for unlimited everything. My husband also has the same plan. So, we both pay 108.00 a month when it used to be 70. Virgin’s prices beats Verizon and ATT, but I am now aware of even lower cost options, thanks to Choose FI. Wondering if I could stomach a data limit of 5 gigs, I have decided to track my data usage to see if this is a good idea. I don’t want to be hit with data overage charges, and I also don’t want to be out climbing or something and forget to download route data on Mountain Project and be stuck because I hit my data cap (if I even get service). I could argue there are logical ways around all of this; e.g., being proactive rather than reactive.

I am not a ‘phone junkie,’ although I can get caught in the browsing trap like the best of them. I really like the idea of saving at least 20 dollars a month (and maybe more), amounting to at least 240.00 a year!

So, I’m resetting my usage today and determining how it goes when I turn off data usage completely and just turn it on when it’s absolutely necessary (example: I have to pull something up in my email while not in a wifi area, or needing more than just the gps function on Google Maps).

I’ll download music playlists I want to listen to from Spotify, and download my maps before heading out. I’ll also download and delete podcasts as I listen to them. And sorry, but no Instagram while waiting somewhere—will be using my Kindle instead!

Updates to come. Hopefully this helps me focus on other non-phone related things…like writing, painting, reading.

Have you switched your phone plan, or are you thinking about it, to save on monthly costs? Comment below!

Author: SB

After a year of self-reflection after a shift in focus on my career as a high school teacher, I've taken the time to examine a lot of things--mine and my husband's finances included. With over 600k in student loan and mortgage debt, we are working to pay it off and enjoy life along the way in our home of Colorado. The first step is choosing knowledge over ignorance, which is where this blog comes in. This blog is a place to share and learn, particularly about our path to financial independence. Thank you for stopping by!

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