Yes, Main Street Americans are taking a closer look at their household budgets in 2020, as the economy teeters toward recession and as millions of Americans have lost their jobs.
Nothing is off-limits, savings-wise – except with the possible exception of mobile phone bills.
According to a recent survey of 1,500 people from Ting Mobile, financial consumers aren’t considering their cell phone service when trying to save money, with only 22% intending to change their cell phone plan given the economic climate.
People who stand the most to gain from curbing phone bills aren’t taking a closer look. Of the small group (15%) who do not find mobile service essential, 52% earn less than $50,000 in annual household income.
Here are some other select, and eye-opening, takeaways from the Ting study:
Phone upgrade plans have changed in the wake of a difficult economy: 69% of survey respondents who initially planned to upgrade their devices this year are either delaying upgrade plans or buying a cheaper model.
People would rather pay for their phone up front than finance it: 62% bought outright, while 38% financed their phone purchase. Most people plan to stick with the same option the next time they get a new phone as well.
Financing is gaining traction among college students and millennials: 64% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 60% of 25 to 34-year-olds think this is a smart money move. Buyers under 25 are 20% more likely than other age groups to use financing methods outside of their mobile carrier, like credit cards, third-party financing (i.e. Affirm, Varo), and retailer financing (i.e. Best Buy, Amazon).
Phone trade-in programs are favorable among those who have financed their devices: 57% of people who financed their current phones think trade-in programs are worth the money, while 52% of people who bought their current device outright have never participated in a phone trade-in program.
It’s the 69% percent of phone users who won’t address their mobile phone bills that really stand out. They tell Ting that, given sudden change in the economic climate, they’ve altered their phone upgrade plans, according to Ting Mobile phone financing survey.
"Given the difficult financial situation that millions of people are finding themselves in since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's not surprising that the majority are reconsidering how they spend on mobile this year," said Andrew Moore-Crispin, director of content at Ting. "The results of our survey indicate that while people may be more conscious of how they are spending on new devices, they may also be missing bigger ways to save on mobile, like researching a different plan or carrier or looking more carefully at the financing options they choose for phone purchases.”
“Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average cell phone bill is $114, but we now have a whole world of alternatives to choose from so that your monthly bill could be far below that average."
Mobile phone bills have long been considered a "necessary evil" - a price to pay to go digital and carry the world in your pocket.
Still, that doesn't mean you should ignore the expanding opportunities for savings from your smartphone bills.
There's a good chunk of cash to be saved there (i.e., cutting services, bundling with family members, or switching providers, for starters) - all you have to do is take a closer look.