Data Killing Your Cash? Here Are Some Ways to Fix It

Browse for longer with these MB-saving tips!

Data is expensive, right? And there can be nothing more frustrating than running out of it. Here are some tips to stop data consuming your cash – and getting the most use out of those MBs that you buy.

1 Check Your Phone’s Background Functions

Go into your settings and see what’s set to automatically updated – get rid of unnecessary updates that you can wait to do only when you’re on Wi-Fi. These usually include polling for Facebook updates, high-frequency e-mail inbox checks and automatic application updates.

And make sure your mobile data settings are such that your phone only automatically runs updates when it’s on Wi-Fi (not on data!). You can set whether apps update over 3G or Wi-Fi networks.

On Android phones, go to Google Settings -> Data Management and set your apps to update over Wi-Fi only.

On iOS, go into Settings -> iTunes & App Store. Here you will see some options including the option to use mobile data and if you turn it off, apps will only update on Wi-Fi.

There may still be some sneaky data usage by apps, though, so to be extra safe, on Android go to Settings -> Data Usage and tap the Restrict Background Data button. On an iPhone, go to Settings -> Cellular to set which apps are allowed to access data.

2 Delete Unused Apps

Remember that app that had to do with the diet you stuck to for a week? Or the one game you played once or twice because your mom’s friend told you it was a blast? Well, that app is still using your data by updating and connecting online. Uninstall apps you don’t need or use frequently.

3 Close Apps Correctly

Hitting your Back or Home button doesn’t necessarily close apps. Instead, make sure you forcibly close apps completely after use.

On an Android phone, that means launching your Recent Applications menu (this differs from phone to phone, but it could be a button that looks like a square or an icon that looks like two 90-degree angles). Now close any apps that appear on your screen.

On an iPhone, this probably means double-pushing your circular Home button and then swiping up on any apps that appear on your screen to properly kill them.

4 Be Wary of Using Your Phone as a Hot Spot

According to Antony Seeff, CEO of Tariffic, a company that helps people save money on their cellphone bills, when your phone settings are sorted out you should still be wary of using your phone as a hot spot. ‘It uses a lot more data than you realise. You use your phone as a hot spot for your laptop, for example, and then your laptop has auto-updates turned on automatically when it connects to Wi-Fi.’

5 Turn Off Autoplay on Social Media Apps


Instagram pre-loads photos and videos when you open the app. You can tap on the profile icon, then on the Options button in the upper right corner, scrolling down to Cellular Data Use, and selecting Use Less Data. Videos won’t load until you try to play them and photos a little bit slower. Everything might take a little longer.


Enabling Travel Mode will stop the automatic downloading of videos and means you’ll have to tap to load content while using mobile data. Tap in the top right-hand corner of your profile screen. Tap on Manage under Additional Services. Toggle Travel Mode on or off.

6 Use an App to Manage Your Data

  • Available on IOS, Windows and Android, FindFreeWifi is a locally produced app that helps you find free Wi-Fi (duh) and save data. The locations that are listed are nationwide.
  • Google has very recently released a data tracking app called Datally which is only available on Android. The app helps users determine which applications on their device use the most mobile data and tracks your usage to recommend ways to cut down on mobile data usage. The app can also display real-time data usage while an app is running.

7 Check You’re On the Right Phone Contract

According to Seeff, even if you save data like a pro, your real problem may be your cellphone package. ‘Most people are on the wrong packages and don’t have a clue what package to be on. Or don’t know what bundles to add. The biggest expense when it comes to data is that when they finish that data they go out of bundle and suddenly they’re paying exorbitant bundle rates. They’re paying up to R1 a megabyte as opposed to 15 cents a megabyte. Try understand how much you’re using and then try to be on a bundle to cover that data.’

8 Okay, Pre-paid vs Contract?

When it comes to prepaid vs contract, there’s no real clear winner. ‘There are pros and cons to both. Contracts are good if you’re on the right contract for your usage. It’s also good if you want to finance a phone or end up getting a bit of a discount. If you’re looking for a good way to manage your spending then pre-paid is quite a good idea,’ says Seeff.

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