What 'staying connected' costs you

Staying connected – to family, friends and the world at large – is vital, particularly while many communities are in lockdown or could be plunged into lockdown very quickly. But the costs add up.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce your monthly bills, it’s wise to regularly assess your internet, phone and streaming service costs.

Reviews.org estimates that over a lifetime, from age 18 to 82.5 (the average life expectancy in Australia), these services will cost about $140,000. The analysts say we will spend more than $78,000 on internet, $41,800 on mobile and $19,300 on streaming services over a lifetime.

And those monthly costs do not include the occasional new TV, laptop, tablet and smartphone.

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Reviews.org based its estimates on a survey of 1000 Australians plus data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions (ACCC).

It says the average Australian’s monthly telecommunication costs are: internet $80, mobile $45 and streaming $25. That’s $150 per month or $1800 per year on average. Given the average weekly income for Australians is $1996.60 for males and $1781.60 for females, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), that’s a week’s worth of work.

So how to cut those costs when you’re not earning the average weekly wage? Compare, compare, compare.

An internet service is a necessity for most people, but it pays to shop around, taking into account reliability, speed and a clear estimate of the volume of data used each month. The cheaper plans mean you’re likely to need to sacrifice something, such as data limits or internet speeds.

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Whistleout’s best internet deals for September were: SpinTel, $54 NBN Unlimited Plus (for unlimited data), Tangerine $44.90 Standard Speed Unlimited (cheapest) and SpinTel $69 NBN Unlimited Premium (fastest).

Switching to a cheaper mobile provider can also lower your monthly bills, as can combining individual accounts into a family plan. Switching and keeping your number has never been easier. And maybe put off getting a phone upgrade for an extra year or three.

Reliable comparisons can be found at reviews.org, Whistleout, Finder and Canstar Blue. Remember that big is not always best, check who has the best coverage in your area or in the regions you intend to travel to (when permitted) and try not to pay for too much more data than you generally use.

Read more: Which internet providers deliver the best speeds?

A range of streaming subscriptions now seems to be a must-have. But you could save $9675 in a lifetime by cutting out one (or more) of your streaming services to under $25. Or, with a little extra effort and planning, you could switch from one service to another every month to maximise your library options while only paying for one service at a time.

To guide your assessment of streaming services, Canstar Blue has rated the main contenders, with Netflix rated most highly and Foxtel ahead of only Apple TV.

Do you regularly assess these costs? How do you go about doing that? How important are streaming services to you? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

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Written by Janelle Ward



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