Your Facebook Addiction May Be Costing You Money

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase or sign up through my links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclaimer for more info.

Effortless Ways To Earn Money

  • Survey Junkie: Earn up to $50 per survey with one of the highest-paying survey sites on the web. Join Survey Junkie Now
  • Mistplay: Mistplay is a loyalty program that rewards gamers with free gift cards for playing fun mobile games. Get Mistplay (Android)
  • Fundrise: Fundrise is a very easy-to-use app that allows individuals to access crowd-funded real estate investing. This option is best for users who want to make money consistently and let their money make them money. Start Investing Now

Your Facebook addiction may be costing you money.

If there’s one thing Americans dislike most, it’s boundaries. Perhaps that might help to explain why the average American home is 1,000 square feet larger than it was in 1973, or why digital streaming services offering unlimited binging material such as Netflix and Hulu are so popular, or, more alarmingly, why we waste roughly $36.9 billion a year on unused cell phone data.

No wonder this country is submerged so deeply in debt.

Having learned the importance of establishing good financial habits and always looking for ways to trim the fat off our monthly bills, my wife and I set out to cut our cable service, cancel our food delivery service, and replace our expensive personal training sessions with $20/month gym memberships.

After several weeks of relentlessly shifting our lifestyle (and feeling much better about our growing wallets), there was one critical service we had yet to touch: our cell phone plan.

What Lies Beneath

Until recently, I assumed that everyone paid at least $50 per month to use their precious cell phones.


Want Free Money?

  • Aspiration: Want to get spotted a $150 for free? Simply sign up for Aspiration, and the free banking app will give you cash for free, you just relax while it gives you $150 just for opening a new debit card. There’s no catch. This bank account is legit and only takes two minutes to sign up for an account.

Pro tip: Surveys are quick, easy, and can pay you cash from the comfort of your home. No wonder they are so popular. Survey Junkie, Branded Surveys, Swagbucks, and InboxDollars are just a few of the best survey sites to make money.

Whenever I casually brought up the topic of pre-paid cell phone plans with friends and colleagues, I was always met with variations of the same remark: “$50? That’s all you pay?”, which roughly translates into

“Shut your quibbling piehole and just be grateful you’ve been given such a good deal.”

And so I continued to pay my flat-rate “bargain” fee every month with no intention of making a change. That was, until two months ago…

After seeing their ads plastered all over the city of Chicago, I decided to pay a visit to my local friendly Metro PCS provider (not PMS, as I had mistakenly told my wife on several occasions) to learn more about their deal that required the space of a billboard to display, which due to the constraints of your screen I cannot reproduce here. But it went something like this: $50 Period.

According to the clerk, most people were willing to pay extra for the unlimited plan. There were, apparently, other plans starting at $30 that offered just 2GB of data. 2GB? I scoffed silently.

Who could exert such restraint? I decided to do some investigative work right there in the store. I wanted to know just how much data I was using. It turned out, not much. To be more exact, during the previous month’s billing period, I had used just a measly 950MB.

That can’t be right, I thought. I pay for unlimited data. I download music. I listen to podcasts.

I asked my wife to look into her cell phone data usage as well. Expecting to hear a similar figure, I thought I had misheard her at first when she told me. How much was she using? A whopping 4.5GB! Digging deeper, we uncovered the primary suspect behind her excessive usage: Facebook.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think social media can be a great tool to connect with others and to gather information on topics that I find appealing. I have a Facebook account. And a Twitter account, for that matter.

But there is something insidious about the way we’ve begun to use social media, scrolling through our feeds to fill up the idle moments that punctuate our busy lives. According to Mark Zuckerberg, users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.

Perhaps my wife’s addiction is more common than I’d initially thought.

Breaking the Habit

In an effort to take charge of our spending habits, as we had done with other aspects of our life, we decided to look into alternative cell phone plan options.

There was Project Fi, a pre-paid service plan through Google that proved promising. Starting at $20/month for unlimited calls and text messaging with an additional fee of $10 per gigabyte, this was looking like a step in the right direction.

The only problem was, our phones weren’t compatible and the options were limited to the Pixel & Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X. None of these phones were reasonably priced, in my opinion, so we passed.

So, which plan did we go with?

After some deliberation, we decided that Republic Wireless was the best choice for us and our financial goals.

Through their basic plan, they offered unlimited calls and text messaging (an industry standard) plus one—yes, just one—GB of data for roughly $27 and some change after fees and taxes (so if you don’t live in Illinois, there’s a good chance your taxes will be less).

To make it even easier to conserve your data, they use an innovative hybrid calling technology that uses WiFi when it’s available and switches over to cellular when it’s not.

The Results of Our Data Conservation Efforts

Switching our service plan was more than just about saving money (although the extra $648 we now have to throw at our student loan debt is a big help), it was about setting self-imposed restrictions, a.k.a. discipline.

As with any other decision to further personal growth, our efforts were directed at answering the elusive question: when is enough enough? Why is it necessary to eat at a buffet when one plate of food should be sufficient?

In the last two months, my wife’s cell phone usage has plummeted to 600MB in one billing period. To throw in a bit of fun to the challenge, we’ve gamified our data savings to see who uses the least each month.

The winner gets a pass on dish-duty for a week. To compete I now find myself connecting my phone to any and all available WiFi hotspots, whether it’s at a coffee shop, at the library, or at the gym. This way, I’ve been able to use all my phone’s features for free.

And in addition to saving money, we’ve both discovered that those idle moments in life can hold more value than scrolling through your social media feed. Now those gaps are filled with meaningful conversations and a greater awareness of what’s going on around us.

All you have to do is look up.

GoDescription
acorns

Want Financial Wellness?
Acorns
Acorns is your guide to financial wellness. They’ll help you invest, save and spend smarter starting at just $1 per month. There’s no catch. This app is legit and only takes two minutes to sign up for an account.

LEARN MORE


Today's Best Offers

AppAt a glancedownload
chimeChime
★★★★★
Chime will spot you up to $200 if you accidentally overdraft. And even better: they won’t charge you a dime.
GET SPOTTED $200
Truebill reviewAxos
★★★★★
This free savings account delivers on its promise to save you money effortlessly. You can use it to get up to 6x the national average APY. It now pays to stash your cash in a savings account.
GET PAID TO SAVE

About the author

Matthew Jankiewicz
Matthew Jankiewicz holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago and is the founder of Finance Crusader. When not busy writing, you'll find him biking alongside Lake Shore Drive, reading at your local bookstore, or attending open mic comedy shows.

2 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

On a similar note...

Explore More On