I got frustrated by my cell phone recently. I’m on a shared 6gb plan that includes me, my wife, and my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law uses maybe 0.2gb a month so there’s no problem there. My wife uses the majority of the data with Spotify at work, Facebook, and facetime – a little over 3gb. I use about 2gb a month on random blogs, Twitter, and Quora. At the end of every month, we usually have just a little under 1gb of data left.
One day, while at work, I received a text from my provider that I’m at 75% of my monthly data. We were only 6 days into our monthly data allotment. A few hours later, I receive another text informing me that I’m at 90% and finally 100% of my data allotment. It turned out that my son had been downloading games on my wife’s phone while they were on a road trip. This slowed cellular internet speed down to 128kbps- that’s 128kbps on a good day.
It seemed like it took Twitter ages to load, and I could forget about seeing whatever gifs people had posted. I use my phone’s internet at my retail job to help customers, but I couldn’t because everything was loading so slow. I hate slow internet and I had 20 more days of it. But before I became more upset, I took a step back and ask why I was feeling that way.
I made my way through high school and my freshman year of college on 56kbps. I remember having to wait 2 minutes just to connect to the internet. Now, I was upset that it took a page 15 seconds to load. I thought about how far we had come and how fast we as a society had become dependant on smartphones to help us in our lives. Even though my phone had slowed way down, it was still allowing me to do things I couldn’t do 18 years ago. I also don’t need to carry around as many items to accomplish the same task as 18 years ago.
With that being said, I’ve created a list of how smartphones have helped us be more frugal. This list includes things that we couldn’t have done on the go or would have required something else to carry around. Without further ado, here’s my list of 13 ways smartphones have helped us be frugal.
Easy access to the shopping list
Yes, I know shopping list were simple to make in the year 2000. You just needed a small notepad and a pen. But, with smartphones, you don’t have to worry about carrying around a pen and paper. Plus, it’s so much easier to add and remove items from the list just by talking to your phone.
No need to carry a calculator
While you’ve got your shopping list open, you can also open your calculator app to keep track of your spending while you’re shopping. It’s also great for calculating tips. That’s one less item to carry around.
Make better shopping decisions
While your shopping, you have access to the internet on your phone. With that power, you are able to look up reviews on products and comparison shop on the fly. You’re able to get a price match quicker by showing a store that another retailer has a lower price. In the year 2000, you would have had to do all of that research at home and bring a printed copy.
See how much an item is going for your side hustle business
I don’t know about you, but I like to see what cool items I can find at yard sales and thrift shops. If I think I can make some money from a find at a yard sale, I’ll buy it and sell it on eBay. Before smartphones, I would have to already have knowledge of that item or I would have to take a chance and hope the item was worth some money. Now, I’m able to check the going price for an item instantly.
You always have access to a camera
This is a big one. How many people do you know back in the year 2000 that carried a camera around with them all the time? Today, our camera phones can help us avoid paying tons of money.
For example, when you’re renting a car, you can take a video of any damage that’s already on the car. If a rental agency tries to make you pay for damages you didn’t do, you have proof on your phone that the damage was already there.
You can also take a video all around your car before giving it up to a valet parking attendant. It’ll put your mind a rest if a valet agency tries to weasel their way out of paying for damages they caused.
You have instant access to the weather forecast
We used to have to make sure we catch the weather on tv or the newspaper. But, weather patterns can change. With our smartphones, we have access to weather by the minute. My favorite weather app is AccuWeather. I’ve literally had it show me the exact time rain was going to start and end.
Those weather apps come in handy when you need to set up a nice picnic and need to choose between sitting under the cherry blossoms or a canopy.
Spend less time being lost and more time where you want to be
I don’t know how much time and money I’ve wasted by being lost before I had GPS on my phone. First, it took me a while to realize I was lost. Then I’d have to pull over and ask for directions. If the person I asked didn’t know the directions, I’d have to go to the nearest gas station and buy a map. It would take me a while to figure out the map because I’m not a person that’s used to reading maps.
All of that running around wasted gas, time, and money. Now, I can ask Siri and she guides me step by step.
No leaving a restaurant in shame
Before smartphones, I would have to take a chance on new restaurants while on the go. While I admit that’s great for an adventurous type of person, it’s not so great for someone on a budget. I don’t want to be embarrassed by walking into a restaurant only to have to leave again because their prices are not in my budget.
With our smartphones, we can view menus and make dining decisions while en-route. Yelp is my favorite restaurant app to use while out of town. I’m able to see reviews and the price range of the meals.
Avoid paying more for gas then you have to
Do you remember needing gas and just stopping at the first gas station you saw? You got the gas, go a few blocks, and see gas for 30¢ cheaper at another station.
We can now use our smartphones to see gas prices all around us and make decisions accordingly.
Check your bank to see if you’re going to overdraft
There was a time when I used my debit card and I just prayed I didn’t have a pending withdrawal that could give me an overdraft fee. Smartphones allow us to check our bank balance instantly and see if we have anything pending. Some banks even let you deposit a check by scanning it with your phone.
Now, there’s no excuse for me to just leave a $3 check in the glovebox because I think driving to the bank for $3 isn’t worth it.
Bring back the right items with video chat
Before there were smartphones and my wife sent me shopping for something I’d never seen before, I’d just take a guess and hope it was the right thing. She could describe it on a cell phone, but there were times I did come back with the wrong item. She’d be so angry.
Now, when she sends me for something, I can contact her on Facetime and she can guide me to the right location.
Know how much your ride is going to cost
In the year 2000, I used cabs to get around. I had no idea what the trip price would be until I got to my destination and would sometimes have to scrounge for a few extra dollars. While I no longer need to use cabs, today passengers can get a pre-ride cost estimate using their Uber app. There are often Uber coupon codes you can use for a discount.
Harder to miss deadlines with reminders
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve paid a bill late just because I forgot it was due. There were times when I wrote reminders on wall calendars and still missed the due date. That resulted in a lot of late fees.
Now, since my smartphone is always with me, there’s no way for me to miss a reminder once I set it. I would have a make a conscious effort to forget important due dates.
Did I miss anything?
I’ve listed some ways smartphones have helped us save money and time. A lot of those things were possible before today’s smartphones but they required a lot more effort.
With that being said, this post was really just to remind you (and me) that we shouldn’t take today’s technology for granted. We’ve come a long way from those old Nokia bar phones in what is really just a few short years. How can you not marvel at how far technology has come? I mean, I can literally create a website using my cell phone! I look forward to seeing where technology will go in the future.
Now, I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out how smartphones have helped us save money, but I know that I’ve left a lot of things out. So, if you have anything to add to it, please let me know in the comments.