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More and more people are using gigabyte after gigabyte in mobile data a month.

Do you enjoy getting a large cell phone bill? Do you like spending extra money to get extra data because you keep hitting the limit?  If you answered “NO” to any of these questions, then this article is for you!

Many cell phone companies realize how much data the average smartphone user burns through every month: Verizon offers a whopping 12 different tiered data plans, each with varying amounts of data allowed per month (one offers up to 100GB a month!). Similarly, T-Mobile recognizes the need for so much data, that they now only offer one mobile plan: Unlimited everything (called T-Mobile One) which includes unlimited talk and text, and 4G LTE data.

Before you switch to a more expensive data plan, you should take these steps to find out what your true average mobile data usage is a month.  You see, you can cut down on how much mobile data you use before you resort to upgrading your data plan.

Manage Additional Settings to Limit Data Usage

Some apps have additional options in their settings to limit data-gobbling tasks.  For example, in the Facebook app, you can choose to turn off auto-play of videos, or only auto-play when on Wi-Fi. In the Gmail app, you can adjust when it downloads new emails — you can turn off automatic sync, or limit the number of days of mail to sync.  If you use Google Chrome as your internet browser, there is a “Data Saver” feature that reduces data it uses by up to 35%! Most games that you’ve downloaded also have a setting that can turn off auto-updates and notifications.

Automatic app updates also eat up a considerable amount of data, and you might not even realize when it does i.  Both iPhone and Android phones have settings to either turn off automatic app updates, or at least only update when connected to Wi-Fi.  With each app update as big as a few hundred megabytes, it can all really add up, especially when the average person uses 25-30 apps a month.

Don’t Share Photos and Videos

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Well, at least not without Wi-Fi.  Downloading or posting photos and videos is a huge data waster.  You may not realize it, but every Snapchat you send, every image you post on Instagram, and every video you post to Facebook eats up a ton of your mobile data.  One minute of video shot at 1080p HD at 60fps alone will take up 200 megabytes of space – and don’t get us started on with 4k video available on the iPhone 6s.

If you want to transfer photos and video to another device, but you don’t have Wi-Fi or the appropriate cables, consider using the Bluetooth on your phone.  With Bluetooth, you can send large files fast and easy without using your data.

Put Your Music On Your Phone

Do you like to listen to music on your phone via YouTube, Spotify, or Pandora?  Do you have a workout playlist or station that you listen to on the way to work?  Well, STOP IT.  Streaming music (or music AND video on Youtube) eats up your hard-earned mobile data.  Using Bluetooth or cables, download music directly to your phone so you don’t have to use any internet data to listen to music.  

Use Wi-Fi as Much as Possible

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While not necessarily a new or revolutionary idea, there are a few things you should know to make the most of it and protect yourself.  Firstly, before connecting to any public, free wi-fi spot, you should realize that you need to protect your privacy.  As Techlicious.com explains,

“Using public WiFi isn’t unlike having a conversation in a public place: Others can overhear you. If you don’t take precautions, information your devices send over a public WiFi network goes out in clear text — and anyone else on the network could easily take a look at what you’re doing with just a few simple software tools.” (source)

Before connecting, consider using a VPN to connect securely.  If you don’t know how, ExpressVPN provides an easy guide “for dummies”. Secondly, find and take advantage of all the free Wi-Fi spots where you need them most: home, work, restaurants, etc. Use a WiFi finding app like WiFi Finder for Android or MapWiFi & Wi-Fi Finder for iOS to locate places where you won’t have to spend your own mobile data. For additional ways to protect yourself from the most common dangers of public WiFi networks, SecureThoughts provides some smart tips and tools to stay safe.

These are some of the first steps you need to take to reduce your mobile data usage.  Hopefully, you won’t have to spend more to increase your data cap when you can just reduce your data usage to begin with.  If you use too much water or electricity at home, you wouldn’t stop taking showers or get a smaller home as a first step — you’d look at ways to reduce your consumption, and your mobile data should be treated the same.  

What are some useful ways you’ve learned to reduce your mobile data usage?