Talking tech since 2003

If you own a smartphone, you’re now in the majority — 56% of American adults do too, according to the Pew Research Center. However, with new models continually entering the marketplace and a non-stop barrage of TV and online advertising urging you to get the latest and greatest device, it can be all too easy to let your smartphone costs get out of control. However, if you step back to take a breather from the madness and use a little common sense, you can find that there are plenty of ways to save money on your mobile device. For advice on how to reduce the cost of your smartphone and data plan, read on.

1. Get a Discount on the Device

Even if your carrier offers an annual upgrade program, forego the urge to get the newest device and opt instead for a model a few generations back – you can save $100 or more by doing so. Check out a website like FatWallet and look for slightly older devices that may be available for free if you sign a long-term contract. Whether you’re upgrading or buying your first smartphone, last year’s model is more than capable of performing every function you need. Forget the Joneses and keep up with those monthly bills instead.

2. Take Advantage of Trade-In Programs

Finding a smartphone for free is difficult and you should be wary of any website that offers one, but you can certainly take advantage of trade-in programs to get products that are nearly free. If you trade in an older, working smartphone at Best Buy you may receive $100 which you can put toward a new iPhone. Choose the 5C and it’s free. Or, sell your used and unlocked iPhone 4S (64GB) at the Gazelle website and you get $195. If you use those funds to pick up the iPhone 5 for $200, that’s only a $5 out-of-pocket expense.

3. Save on Apps

When downloading apps, always look for free versions first and keep close watch over what your kids spend, too. Then, look for gift cards to the app store. They could be offered for a reduced price at Best Buy, Office Max, or through an eBay seller – check out FatWallet and get the low-down every time they go on sale. And don’t necessarily jump when you see a 10% discount. Wait until you see a $50 gift card on sale for $40, then pull the trigger.

4. Reconsider the Insurance

There are certainly situations in which insurance or an extended warranty make sense, but not necessarily for your smartphone. If you tend to be clumsy with your devices, a child has access to them, or if you simply want peace of mind, smartphone insurance is a good idea. In most other instances, it may not make financial sense. Weigh the cost of your premium against the likelihood of having to make a claim and the expense of replacing the device. When it comes to insurance, it always pays to do some evaluation before signing on the dotted line.

5. Protect Your Device

There are many ways to protect your smartphone. First, you should invest in a high quality protective cover – look on eBay and Amazon for the best prices and largest selection. Then, look into ways to protect your software as well. Use a passcode and activate the remote wipe feature that most devices come with so if your smartphone is ever lost or stolen, your personal information is protected.

6. Choose the Right Data Plan

If you currently own a smartphone, look at your data usage over the past three months and tailor your plan to it. If you’re a first timer, go to the website of your preferred carrier where you can likely find a usage calculator (the Wall Street Journal also a nifty cell phone plan calculator). Input your estimates and choose a plan based on those results. After a few months, see if you can drop down to a lower plan that costs less.

If you went with an older model smartphone to save yourself $100, and you selected a data plan $30 cheaper than your original choice, that’s almost $500 in annual savings. Make sure you put that money to good use. Set it aside in a separate account, and at the end of the year use it either to set up an IRA or make additional contributions to your 401k plan. Once you do yourself the favor of saving money on a smartphone, make sure it doesn’t go to waste on unnecessary purchases — invest it wisely.

What other ways do you know of to save on choosing and owning a smartphone?

About the author: Mitchell Hall is a tech enthusiast who loves using and writing about the latest gadgets and trends in the technology and mobile space.

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