If you’re on a pay-as-you-go or limited data plan, you know that there’s nothing more frustrating than realising you’ve reached your data limit halfway through the month (and worse, that you’re already eating into your airtime at off-bundle rates). Cellular contracts offer loads of free minutes and SMS, but when it comes to data, they are either incredibly limited or unbelievably expensive. No matter what type of contract you’re on, you’re going to want to ensure that your data goes as far as possible.

The real question is how? With addictive social media sites, data-dependant messaging platforms and sneaky apps running in the background, limiting your data usage can seem almost impossible. Here are a few simple tips to ensure your data lasts the entire month:

Be Data Savvy

Take advantage of WiFi

To ensure that you’re not guzzling your data unnecessarily, make a habit of only using data-heavy applications when you’re connected to WiFi. Most major malls, popular coffee shops and restaurants offer at least a free WiFi voucher with a limited amount of data for you to use. Similarly, ensure you swap over to the WiFi when you’re home or at the office as internet packages usually give you better value on your data. To make sure you don’t drop the WiFi signal and use your cellular network unknowingly while at work or home (if you have wifi there), you can disable your cellular network in your settings and then put it on again when you leave the WiFi area.

Monitor your data usage

Both Android and IOS allow you to access a complete breakdown of your data usage by app. This allows you to monitor your data and see where you may be using the most, and it’ll shed light on where you are losing data without even knowing it. This handy feature can be found in your settings in either “Data Usage” or “Mobile Data”.

Resist the temptation to stream

Streaming a show on Netflix or Showmax for an hour can use up to around 2 GB of data—more data than some people have for an entire month. While standard quality videos or music streaming uses much less data, it’s still recommended to stream your favourite shows, music and YouTube videos at home on the WiFi and not on your smartphone. If you can’t go without your favourite show while on the go, then consider using a streaming service that allows you to download and play offline.

Buy data bundles

Out-of-bundle rates are unbelievably high, so it’s best to opt for a data bundle if you find you’re going through your data faster than you would like. You can either choose add-on bundles on an ad-hoc basis or opt for a recurring bundle—contact your service provider for the best possible options.

Tweak your settings

Disable autoplay

These days we can practically watch videos on any platform, many of which use a considerable amount of data as is. Rather watch only the videos you’re really prepared to pay for by disabling the autoplay feature on that app.

Take your phone off 4G

Today most of our phones support 4G, which is generally faster than most standard home internet lines, but it also means faster consumption of data which makes 3G a better choice for those wanting to save. On most smartphones, you can switch your 4G off under settings. This doesn’t mean apps use less data. You just won’t be able to stream, browse and download as quickly as you would on 4G. This will deter you from using your phone for things like music and videos.

Turn automatic updates and syncs off

One of the things that can really sneak up on you when it comes to data usage is automatic updates and syncs (set as a default on most smartphones). This is a terrible waste of data. Ensure that your phone is not updating apps and software using your precious data by changing the settings to only allow this when you are on the WiFi.

While you are in settings, you should also ensure that your email and app notifications are off, so that your phone isn’t constantly going online to refresh your various social media feeds and email. This is an easy fix on both Android (you can switch these off by going to Settings> Connections> Data Usage) and iPhone (Settings>Cellular>Cellular Data Usage).

Be very careful of roaming fees

Using your phone on roaming might be convenient when you’re travelling, but the cost of these international fees could shock you. Instead, keep your cellular data switched off when you travel and make use of WiFi hotspots (which can be found in almost any major city around the world). If you really want to ensure that you are always connected, rather buy a cheap pay-as-you-go package in the country you’re exploring and save roaming for absolute emergencies.

Delete unused apps

Having apps that you don’t use on your phone both takes up space and eats up data without you even knowing about it. While you may not be using all of the apps on your phone, they are constantly updating and costing you data. If you no longer use an app, delete it instead, and always make sure you close apps properly—pages running in the background are still using data!

At the end of the day, it’s a few small smart changes that can make the difference—implement these tips and you’ll soon start noticing how much further your data goes. If you would like to find out about other ways to cut down on your spending and maximise your savings, sign up for our newsletter. In it we offer many useful tips that can help you make your money go further.

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