Do you ever feel like your phone controls your life?
If you’re like the average American, you check your phone 52 times a day. And while that often starts with checking email, it’s easy to go down a virtual rabbit hole.
Whether it’s squandering time with real friends while scrolling social media, procrastinating a project in favor of a TV show binge or overspending with the click of an “order” button on Amazon, there’s no question that phone use can be problematic at times.
But on the flip side, mobile connectivity provides so many opportunities for learning, growth and progress. The right phone habits can improve life drastically!
When you minimize what’s not serving you and maximize the habits that yield results, you replace your phone as the master of your life. And your financial and overall well-being improves. Here are some ideas to guide you on your phone habits makeover:
Use Financial Tools
Credit.com’s interactive financial calculators can be instrumental in establishing your financial plan for the short-term and the long-term. And they’re all mobile-friendly and goal-friendly. When utilized, they can be a powerful tool in your financial arsenal.
- With a lifetime cost of debt calculator, you can see how much interest you will pay over your lifetime for your mortgage, auto loans and credit cards. Use a slider to experiment with outcomes and see how a different credit score affects your total cost of debt.
- With a house affordability calculator, you can determine what homes you can afford based on your down payment, annual income and monthly bills.
- And with a credit card payoff calculator, you can plan for how and when to pay off your credit cards based on credit card balance, APR and monthly payments for multiple cards. The calculator shows the total amount you’ll pay and the date you will be debt free if you follow the plan.
Try a Mobile Wallet
Remote physical connectivity with mobile phones is already a reality in many cases and complete system integration capabilities are imminent. Increased mobile wallet use is a major component of this leap forward. Apple Pay and Google Pay are the major players in mobile wallet use along with electronic payment methods Amazon Pay, Visa Checkout and PayPal. If your credit card companies and favorite merchants are supportive of electronic wallets, mobile wallet use can be a convenient way to manage all of your purchases from one source.
Consume Useful Content
Want to learn a new skill or acquire a certification to find better work? Online classes and live webinars are at your disposal. Want to stay up to date with world and local events? Online news report hubs and podcast commentaries are at your fingertips. Need to fix your leaky sink? Consult YouTube and save money by doing it yourself. Funny videos and celebrity gossip can be entertaining, but there’s a lot more high-quality content out there. Filter out the junk and seek for the gold!
Create and Contribute
Healthy digital citizenship requires give and take. If your phone use leaves you feeling empty, it may be that you need to create as well as consume media or information. Consider creating your own digital space with your writing, photos, observations and causes. This could be in the form of a blog, a social media account or even just the notes app on your phone. Comment on the next financial blog article you read (like this one!), share your thoughts on the latest book you read or curate a playlist of your favorite songs or podcast episodes.
Take Security Measures
Data breaches no longer come as a surprise and identity theft is a real threat. And if you have a cell phone, it’s possible your data is being monitored by your carrier. So how do you protect your identity and your assets?
- Avoid default texting apps like iMessage and social media messengers
- Install a browser that lets you browse the Internet anonymously
- Use a VPN to cloak your physical location
- Use encrypted apps to keep your information private
- Put a password on your phone and don’t give acquaintances access
- Set up password change alerts on your online accounts
- Employ 2-step verification where possible
When in doubt, call your financial institution to confirm email information, especially personal ID and password prompts.
Set Screentime Boundaries
Call it an obsession, a compulsion or an addiction, but it’s easy to get caught up in frequenting our notifications via phone. And most of us know from experience that it can threaten work-life balance and overall wellness.
The solution? Set screentime boundaries for yourself, then enforce them with your device settings and be accountable to someone close to you. If you have a multi-line family account, consider implementing screentime parental controls on your own phone too—even parents need guidelines sometimes!
Track Expenses and Gift Ideas
Over half of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Which is concerning, because many people have financial goals like a vacation, retirement, saving for college, buying a home or home renovations. So how can you get from where you are to where you want to be?
Use an expense tracking app to keep tabs on where you’re spending your money and to make your savings goals a reality. But be accountable to an actual person too, like a partner, roommate or financial advisor. There are also apps to track home finances specifically so home projects don’t bust your budget.
Finally, it can be easy to get carried away when you’re buying gifts for loved ones. Or worse—it can be easy to overspend when you find yourself rushing to get a present last minute. Jot down ideas for gifts when you see them so you’re not scrambling and overspending on holidays and birthdays.
Monitor Your Credit
With Credit.com’s mobile credit app for iPhone, it’s ridiculously convenient to stay on top of your credit. The Credit.com app offers the following:
- Access to your payment history and debt usage
- Credit information from Experian with free updates every two weeks
- A personalized dashboard with your date
- Five credit grades
- Highlights with items for you to keep an eye on
- Personalized advice from experts
Plus, you can see how you compare to others and find out which credit cards and loans you are most likely to qualify for. When you use the Credit.com app, you can start getting your credit score where you want it to be.
About the Author
Rebecca Graham, Content Management Specialist for BestCompany.com
Rebecca currently manages the mortgages blog for Best Company, an independent review site where companies don’t “pay to play” and consumers can access real customer reviews and education materials to help them make sound financial decisions. Her work on finances, real estate, home improvement and parenting can be found throughout the blogosphere. Rebecca unplugs from consumer culture on occasion to hike with her family.