What the phone? How to make your smartphone smarter..

Here’s a staggering stat: According to ASIC, the average Aussie family spends more on mobile phone bills than they do on childcare. If you’re a modern data-guzzling consumer like me, you’ll know how critical these nifty little (and not-so-little anymore) contraptions are now.

Us parents are hooked. The kiddies are hooked. The whole world is hooked.

stevepb / Pixabay

Think robot

Our phones are never far from us. They’re strapped to our hands and popped in our pockets permanently, as we go about our day. They’re thrown into handbags and backpacks the country over.

They’re with us every hour of every day, every week of the year.

Do you have phone FOMO?

We have phone FOMO too (Fear of missing out on our your phones.)

If you’ve ever lost your phone in the house, or left it at home after venturing out – you’ll understand the kind of withdrawal I’m talking about.

We so take our phones for granted. These little workhorses grind at the centre of our lives daily and we probably don’t give them enough love or credit.

They must feel so used, but then we are paying a pretty penny for the privilege of having them in our lives.

FirmBee / Pixabay

There’s great news for phone owners as a result of some market trends. These can slash your phone bill and put good dollars back into the family budget. Here are today’s tips on how you and your phone can live even more harmoniously together.

Don’t renew that phone contract

We all know the danger of the ole’ phone contract. I’ve been there. I know the sadness that comes with realising you are locked in and stuck with a too-expensive plan and with a tired old phone. This is always such a grave realisation. A lot of consumers have become wiser now. Personally, I’m a BYO phone person now because I learnt that lesson the hard way.

Here are a few ways you can stay out of a contract:

  1. Buy a phone outright and bring your own SIM
  2. Don’t renew your contact, keep the phone longer and then add your own SIM

Note: People are holding on to their phones for longer. The average iPhone is owned for 30 months now. This is up from 24 months in 2015.

Here’s the benefit of doing this:

Halve your payments with one super simple money-saving step! All phone companies offer SIM or prepaid plans – so this is super easy to do.

helloolly / Pixabay

Here’s what to do next

  1. Phone companies will call when your contract is up and encourage you to renew.
  2. Don’t say yes.
  3. Instead ask what your options are and whether you can move to a SIM Only or their Best Prepaid Plan.
Unsplash / Pixabay

Shop around

For extra points – shop around – the networks are all on a par now

There is huge competition between phone companies for your business. Most plans come with unlimited calls and SMS in Australia now. This is good and gives you one less thing to worry about.

The real focus is on how much data you get in your plan.

The prepaid SIM market is full of introductory offers, which give more data value. Smaller phone companies like Boost Mobile and Amaysim generally offer better data inclusions than bigger companies.

FirmBee / Pixabay

A common mistake

Many consumers choose Telstra because it is assumed they have better coverage.

In the past, Telstra was better but now other phone companies have caught up. Independent research shows Optus and Vodafone cover the same networks as Telstra (within a couple of percent anyway).

Clker-Free-Vector-Images / Pixabay

Parental controls

Here’s one standout addition to phone plans. At the end of last year, OVO Mobile introduced their ‘pocket money’ plan. For $10 a month, about the cost you’d want to pay for a first phone service, you get unlimited SMS (so your child can never run out – and not be in contact) and a small voice allowance.

The plan also comes with a 1 GB of 4G data, which is suitable for beginners.

Smart mobile phones are essentially internet connected computers so, cleverly, OVO’s plan comes with a parental lock facility. Sign up and you’ll get access to an app. You’ll be able to shut the phone off automatically, at the same time every night to avoid arguments. You can meter the time they have to play games on phones.

Finally, and importantly, those dark recesses of the internet are blacklisted. Impressionable minds can’t accidentally stray to unsuitable places on the web.

Pexels / Pixabay

Get entertained

Finally, for sports lovers and the like, there’s another new trend in phone plans. Some come with free entertainment options.

If you have AFL or NRL fans in your family, you’ll know all about it. Telstra offer free (on top of your plan) NRL & AFL seasonal game videos in the NRL and AFL seasons. Further, you won’t be charged for the data you use watching the games.

Optus has a similar scheme for the EPL, English premier League. Their plans allow unlimited streaming of a number of internet radio stations – including Pandora and Spotify – for example.

tpsdave / Pixabay

Get the goodness

These simple steps will drastically reduce your phone bill, while keeping everyone happy:

  • Get out of contracts
  • Don’t get sucked into getting a new phone that basically does the same as the one you’ve got.
  • Focus on the data you’re getting in a phone plan
  • Look at data you can get for free if you love entertainment
  • Be aware of the child-friendly options available
FirmBee / Pixabay

Win-win-win-win-win!!!