Here's one thing we know for sure about what Americans spend on their smartphones: We spend way, way too much time looking at them.
According to a Deloitte report from 2016, Americans collectively check their phones more than 9 billion times a day — that's an average of 47 times a day for each person, and 82 times a day for 18-24 year-olds.
This sort of proliferation should hardly come as a surprise in an industry that shipped 334.9 million smartphones throughout the world in the first quarter of 2016 alone. But let's break down some numbers on a more micro level.
While your phone bill — an expense that could cost you more than $100 a month, reports ABC News — might be a regular part of your budget, your smartphone has a few more insidious money-making tactics up its sleeve. Here's what to look out for, and how to keep that money from slipping right out of your pocket.
Your Data Bill
To be clear, paying for smartphone data itself is no "secret" cost. If you have a smartphone, you're obviously going to need data. Overpaying for smartphone data, however, is a different story.
While it's true that the average American smartphone user eats up close to 3 gigabytes of data every month, a surprising one-third of users don't even use half a gig, reports ABC News. In addition to using numerous tips and tricks to trim your data usage, keep an eye on that bill or use a data-tracking app to see if downsizing your data plan is an option. You could end up saving hundreds of dollars per year.
Also, don't neglect alternative carriers. Compared to the big hitters such as AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, services such as Cricket, Boost and GoSmart can save you up to 50 percent on your data bill, according to ABC News.
Without a digital cornucopia of apps, smartphones aren't too smart at all. And surprisingly — as shiny as new apps are — you're statistically more likely to spend money on "free" apps you've already downloaded than you are on buying new brand-new apps.
We're talking about in-app purchases, of course, which are those sneaky, bite-sized purchases that hide behind free-to-download apps. In fact, smartphone users spend 24 percent more on in-app purchases than they do on apps themselves.
So how do you keep yourself from spending on in-app purchases, an average of $9.20 every 90 days for smartphone users? A little old-fashioned restraint is key, but you also can set your phone to always require your password when making in-app purchases. This simple step could be a lifesaver for parents with Candy Crush-addicted tykes.
The Insurance Question
At roughly $5 to $10 per month on top of your existing cellphone bill, protection plans cost you about $60 to $120 each year. But protecting your investment is smart, right?
It is indeed, but month-to-month insurance might not be the most cost-effective route. This is mostly true because of the dreaded deductible. Despite your monthly payment, your phone company is likely to charge you an additional $50 to $200 for each claim you file, reports CNET. To add insult to injury, you're usually limited to two claims every 12 months.
Let's say you shatter your screen after owning it for a year — a situation that about 50 percent of all smartphone owners have experienced, reports Digital Trends. With a mid-range protection plan of $8 monthly and a $200 deductible — which is what you'll probably be looking at unless you still rock a flip phone — you're out nearly $300 just to fix one issue.
All right, so you've wised up and ditched the protection plan. Considering that it costs about $129 to get your iPhone 7 screen repaired by Apple (out of warranty), you might have just saved yourself more than $150 for a single repair. You're off to a good start, but let's sweeten the deal by avoiding that $129 money sink altogether.
For a fraction of the repair cost, tempered glass screen protectors can take the hits instead of your phone's original glass. Better to be out about $7 than $130, isn't it?.
To prevent body damage — an expense that can run up to $350 for the iPhone 7 Plus — invest in a full-body case. You'll pay about $35 to $70 for peace of mind until it's time for your next upgrade.
The Accessories Trap
Whether it's a Micro USB or Apple's Lightning Cable, most smartphones need some sort of USB cable to charge their battery and transfer data. But don't be roped in by buzzwords that claim to improve your data transfer. Though charging cables can vary in effectiveness, data transfer via USB works the same for a $1 USB cable as it does for a $1,000 USB cable.
In terms of charging cables, don't fear generics to save money. CNET reported in 2015 that Wirecutter found that a $1.23 Monoprice cable turned out to be their preferred method of charging. You'll probably want to go with Apple-certified cables if you're an iPhone user. Even then, generics can be your friend — an Apple-certified AmazonBasics Lighting-to-USB cable is only $6.50 compared to the $19 Apple charges for its own version.
More Money-Saving Tips: How to Save Money on iPods and Apple Products
It's that time again — your two-year contract is about to expire, and it feels like Christmas has come early. Time to upgrade that smartphone to the shiniest new gadget on the market.
You're not alone in your tech-induced giddiness. On average, 51 percent of iPhone owners upgrade their device as soon as their contract allows it, while 40 percent of Android users do the same, according to a 2015 Gallup survey. And though the cost is usually divided over the course of monthly bills, new phone purchases are nothing to scoff at — the iPhone 7 (with a 4.7-inch display) starts at $32.41 a month with the upgrade program.
Instead of getting swept up in the fancy upgrades, take a minute to cool down. Waiting to upgrade your phone until it's actually necessary rather than hopping on tempting tech trends keeps that $700 safely in your checking account.
And when you do upgrade — responsibly, of course — don't just toss the old model in your sock drawer. Trade in your phone toward your next purchase, or sell your smartphone via eBay, Gazelle or NextWorth to put cash directly in your pocket.