How I’ve cut my data budget by two-thirds

June 25, 2018

There’s a new series on the blog, Boujee on a Budget, and this is its first post. It’s also the only post I have planned for Boujee on a Budget. Needless to say, I need to get the creative juices for this series going. With the South African economy going deeper and deeper into a black hole and having bought a car last November, my budget has become a bit constrained. I bet most of us are feeling the pinch. So I’ve been looking at ways to cut down (I’m not always successful, but alas at least I try).

Data prices in South Africa are ridiculously high, #DataMustFall It’s easier to find a unicorn than it is to find public WiFi that works #AlwaysOff. Taking a look at my data bill, I knew I could cut back on it. I was spending R400 to R500 a month on data, and this excluded my cellphone contract.

Despite having WiFi at home, there was a time when I was going through 4 to 5GB mobile data per month. I now use approximately 1GB per month (give or take a few days) and occasionally 2GB, if I can get those Vodacom double data deals for the month.

The most basic money saving tip would be to join one of the cheapest mobile networks. These would be Cell C and Telkom Mobile. but honestly, their coverage is not great. I work in a rural area, and when I was on Cell C my calls would always drop (and if they didn’t they were very scratchy), 200mb would last me a month because I would never get 3G coverage, even in parts of the city. I’ve had friends and former coworkers tell me that they lost signal with Telkom Mobile once they left the city/urban areas. So neither of the affordable networks are options for me. Also, I am less than a year into my contract with Vodacom so it’s not really an option to move from them, cause those hefty cancellation fees are not a vibe.

Nevertheless, I’ve successfully managed to cut down my data bill to a third of what I used to spend. Here’s how I did it.

I decided on an amount I’d use in a month and I’m sticking to it

I decided that 1GB would be my lucky number. Most months I use it up a few days short of the end of the month, but it’s not that big of a deal as at least its nowhere near as much as I used to use, which was 1Gb a week. My new limit per week is 250mb, or 35mb a day.

I restricted background apps and turned off mobile data for most apps

I restricted background apps and turned off mobile data for all of the apps I do not and should not use whilst not connected to WiFi. This alone has saved me so much money. I could not believe how much data background apps, or even regular apps use in the background.

I’d randomly find Google Services updating using my data to update? During my lunch break, I would play Cooking Fever on my phone, not knowing that I needed to use data to play the bloody game.

Also, why does my photo editing app need to connect to the internet?

So I only allow the important (and non-data depleting) apps to use my mobile. Unfortunately, I can’t bear to tear myself away from Instagram, which is still where most of my data usage lies.

I turned off videos, images and stopped streaming music

Vodacom has free Facebook. You can’t see the pics or videos on posts, but you can really all of the posts (which I’m not entirely sure is a good thing). I’m more of a Twitter person so to save on data on Twitter, I’ve turned off the media previews. I can only view images, videos and polls if I open the tweet. This is what my TL looks like, profile pictures are stored in the app’s cache so it doesn’t make much of a difference. Pictures are only loaded if I open the tweet, as with the last screenshot.

I’ve also stopped my WhatsApp from automatically downloading voice notes, images and videos. If you send me a bunch of voice notes and I don’t respond. This is why (and there’s a strong chance that by the time I connect to WiFi that I’ve forgotten to go back to your message so rather not send me a voice note).  Also, with WhatsApp groups, there’s that always that one person who sends 20 pictures at a time or a 15mb video to invite you to some party. They can send all they like, I’m not downloading it unless I’m connected to WiFi.

Listening to 3 hours of streaming audio on Deezer or Castbox is roughly 200mb. Which is now a week’s worth of data for me. So if I get sick of my music, I preplan and download new playlists or podcasts that I want to listen to on my daily commute.

My mail server checks for mail once every hour

Even though getting my mail on my phone is convenient. It easily drains my battery and my data. Which is why I changed my account settings so that my phone only checks for messages once every hour.

I make use of data deals

Vodacom often has data deals on its app. If there’s a double your data deal, I’ll buy it. If not I will only purchase 1GB. These deals often have time limits so double check before you purchase. The last time I visited my siblings (who do not have WiFi) in East London, I purchased 1Gb for R12 and I downloaded a few episodes of Pretty Little Liars on Showmax overtime and watched them at night or in the early morning.

I know this all seems so basic. It literally is basic. But doing this (and using my phone less) and saved me so much data. Which allows me to use the little data that I have on the important things, such such stalking people on their Instagram stories.

Featured image via

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