One of the greatest things about digital technology is that we have access to pretty much everything directly from our phones. Mobile banking is something only 20 years ago seemed impossible; the ability to receive a digital bank statement seemed unsafe. Now you can open accounts, trade stocks, buy clothes and even get mortgages from your mobile phone.
The issue with the availability of the Internet is that you can’t switch off from temptation as much as you once could. Online shopping, Internet gaming or even gambling is so accessible that money could be slipping away carelessly. Scrolling and surfing the web have become the new gym for our fingers and the $4 billion of revenue generated by the Australian digital advertising industry represents where we could all save some money.
You don’t have to be a genius to work out the correlation between a shrinking bank balance and increasing number of eBay deliveries. If this is you or anyone in your family then it’s time to tackle that digital addiction and how money could be saved buying online if a detox plan was followed. Some of us might choose to ship ourselves off to an island without Internet if we could, but that would most likely cost even more money, so the next best thing is the following 1-week digital detox program.
Day 1 – Monday
Goal: Discover where your money is being spent most
Your first day of detox requires you to review your use of technology and to try and ascertain where you use technology the most for non-business activities. Start by going through your day, does your daily commute consist of you sitting on your iPad or playing games on your mobile? Do you spend half an hour playing your favourite game before sleeping? Answer these questions to try and figure out what time you can reclaim from digital activities.
If you want to save money and replace this time with more purposeful activities, try picking up that book you keep telling everyone you’re going to read. Grab a newspaper on the commute to work or spend more time with the family, friends or flat mates in the evening.
Once you have found all the time that you spend online it’s time to begin working out how much they are costing you and where you can save money by restricting yourself. Open up your bank statement or any credit cards that you would use and check to see how much money is being spent on your digital habits. You might find that pair of sunglasses you bought because you received a promo email, or a dress that caught your eye from a Facebook advert. To ram the point home, take a screenshot or print out your statement to keep reminding yourself of the money your going to save each time you detox.
Day 2 – Tuesday
Goal: Unsubscribe from financially unhealthy emails
If you followed day 1 correctly then you should have a book or a newspaper accompanying you on your commute to work this morning and when you get to the office it’s time to eradicate more temptation. If you open up your work email and notice a few non-work related emails within, it’s time to start unsubscribing from that fashion email or those discounted flight emails. There is no benefit to dreaming about spending your money on a holiday if you haven’t finished earning it.
If you don’t know how to unsubscribe then open the advertisement email and scroll to the bottom and find the Unsubscribe link (all emails should have this legally). Don’t worry about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), because when you are ready to find deals you can check out the Buckscoop Deals board or visit the Vouchers page for discounted prices.
Day 3 – Wednesday
Goal: Remove temptation from your mobile phone
Your inbox is clean and your well on your way to saving money but now it gets a little harder . A laptop / desktop is something you have to walk away from at some point, but a mobile phone comes with you everywhere. If you love placing a bet every now and again on various sports, or you have a secret pleasure for mobile games e.g. Candy Crush, then unfortunately it’s time to remove those temptations too. Yes that’s right, delete that game, uninstall that app or do whatever is necessary to ensure you don’t get tempted to pay and play. If you don’t want to delete the game because of your scores then try visiting the notification centre and turning off notifications so you don’t get prompted frequently by the app to play. Turning off notifications is the best way to enjoy the game when you want to, not when it reminds you randomly that you could earn double points if you play now.
Day 4 – Thursday
Goal: Avoid using social media for 1 week
13.5 million Australians spend a large portion of their weekends tweeting, Facebook scrolling or hash-tagging on Instagram and although it’s a free activity to a certain extent, it makes us very vulnerable to advertising. Facebook is smart because if, for example, you announce a new relationship before Valentines Day, all of a sudden advertisements will pop up all over Facebook for gift ideas, chocolates and flowers etc. Today should be spent logging out of all your social media accounts on all devices and giving yourself a week’s break.
Day 5 – Friday
Goal: Gamblers must say No
Now your daily activities should be less crowded with advertisements and promotional offers turned off, your inbox is quieter and your mobile phones battery should certainly be lasting a little longer after less use. Instead of switching on your favourite game and thinking about the odds, try and kick back to simply enjoy the game, money doesn’t need to be spent on them winning or losing.
Day 6 – Saturday
Goal: Digital Free Day
You have reached the end of the working week and the weekend is in full motion. It’s time to turn off your devices and completely detach yourself from the digital world by severing 'the head of the beast' and switching off your Wi-Fi, unless of course you need it to watch Netflix. Aim to get out of the house, go for a walk, sit on the beach, play sport with your friends or simply binge watch your favourite series. Remember all of these efforts are there to save you from spending money online or being exposed to advertising.
Day 7 – Sunday
Goal: Engage with Family and Friends
If you followed all of the steps correctly then you would have hopefully realised how much time you spend on your devices and potentially how much time you could have free if you didn’t. Blocking yourself from temptation also restricted the amount of time you had to spend money, which should have hopefully shown you areas that you can save money every week. To finish off the week on a really positive note, call your friends and family that you haven’t spoken to in a while and have a meaningful conversation and arrange a time to physically meet them, you will find this much more rewarding than simply liking their status update.
Finally congratulate yourself on completing a full week of digital detox and if possible, try to make one non-work day a week a Sabbath where you choose not to use a single form of technology to surf the web.